Jul 092024
 

“Jeff Way In His Tribeca Loft”, 2023; “Turtle Owl Death Mask”,2018 and  “Egyptian Violet Gorilla Mask”, 2017

Kimiko Fujimura “Party-3 (Party at Peter’s), 1990, and “Kimiko Fujimura in her Chinatown Loft”, 2023

For his current exhibition, Loft Law, on view at Westwood Gallery, documentary photographer and filmmaker Joshua Charow photographed artists living and working in the remaining spaces still protected by Loft Law in NYC. The well-crafted portraits offer a chance to see how the artists have made these spaces home over the years.

The gallery has also included artwork by eleven of the artists featured in the photos- Carmen Cicero, Loretta Dunkelman, Betsy Kaufman, Kimiko Fujimura, Joseph Marioni, Carolyn Oberst, Marsha Pels, Gilda Pervin, Steve Silver, Mike Sullivan, and Jeff Way.

From the gallery-

In 1982, Article 7-C of the Multiple Dwelling Law, also known as the Loft Law, was passed in New York City. The law gave protection and rent stabilization to people living illegally in manufacturing and commercially zoned lofts. Hidden behind this legislation were thousands of artists who needed a live/work environment at an affordable rent. These artists protected by the Loft Law changed the trajectory of New York’s cultural landscape.

Three years ago, Charow found a map of the remaining buildings with Loft Law protection. He rang hundreds of doorbells to find and photograph over 75 Loft Law tenants across the city to document the last of these incredible spaces and the creative individuals who made them home. Charow’s interest in the Loft Law and the vanishing history of New York stemmed from his early teenage years when he became immersed in a subculture called ‘Urban Exploring,’ the practice of illegally climbing skyscrapers, bridges, and abandoned subway stations. One of the rooftops he visited was an old factory building in South Williamsburg, where a tenant explained to Charow about the building’s remaining tenants under Loft Law protection.

The photos are a living visual document of the expansive spaces: old flophouses on the Bowery, garment factories in Tribeca and SoHo, glass factories in Greenpoint, and even a former ice cream factory in DUMBO. From the 19th to the 20th century, many buildings in NYC, including SoHo, were manufacturing centers for items from sewing machines to textiles to printing houses. The massive light-filled loft spaces with high ceilings were left empty when these businesses vacated in the mid-1900s and moved to other areas outside of New York City. The industrial-zoned lofts were not legal to live in, as they did not meet the building requirements for residential use, and oftentimes were completely raw spaces without a kitchen, shower, plumbing, or even heat. However, artists were attracted to these large spaces where they could work and create at any hour of the day. At the end of the 1970s, loft living started gaining attention in the media and the wealthy started to become attracted to this lifestyle. Soon landlords began to evict the artist tenants in favor of a wealthier clientele. A group of artists formed the Lower Manhattan Loft Tenants and spent years lobbying in Albany to gain legal protections and rent stabilization. At the time the Loft Law was first passed, there were tens of thousands of artists living in lofts across the city. Today, only a few hundred artists protected under the original 1982 Loft Law remain. This exhibition marks one of the first documentary insights into this vanishing history.

The majority of Charow’s images depict painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, and filmmakers captured amidst their industrial loft spaces. Notable portraits include experimental music and film artists Phillip (Phill) Niblock (1933-2024) and Katherine Liberovskaya (b. 1961); Phill was instrumental in the avant-garde music and film scene from the 1960s to the present. Visuals artists include 97-year-old abstract and figurative expressionist Carmen Cicero (b. 1926), who has works in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and Whitney Museum; Kimiko Fujimura (b. 1932), who in 1965 was selected as “Japan’s Top 5 Female Painters in Contemporary Art” by Geijutsu-Shincho, a Japanese monthly art magazine; minimalist painter Loretta Dunkelman (b. 1937), a co-founder of the all-female artists cooperative A.I.R. Gallery; and Gilda Pervin (b. 1933), whose studio occupies the top floor of a 1790s Quaker building linked to the Underground Railroad and happens to be the old studio space of famed sculptor Eva Hesse, who worked there from 1965-70. Also included is Chuck DeLaney, co-founder of the Lower Manhattan Loft Tenants, an early activist group that was responsible for the lobbying and passing of the Loft Law.

This exhibition closes on 7/13/24.

Dec 122023
 


Heiress Gallery in St. Pete is currently showing Melissa Spitz’s solo show You Have Nothing to Worry About, a moving portrait of her mother’s mental illness and substance abuse.

From the gallery about the exhibition-

In her solo exhibition at HEIRESS, Spitz presents medium-to large-format prints of her iconic images. The works are installed in a chaotic environment, scattered amongst the detritus of familial tragedy: her mother is found in the context of hundreds of pills and pill bottles, a glimpse into the chaos that Spitz and her family have dealt with for many years. Thousands of 4×6 glossy photos are scattered on a table in the center of the space and invites gallery visitors to attempt to make sense of the nostalgia that they hold. In addition to photographs, Spitz has included new sculptural works including ten enameled hammers titled, You Are the Nail, which encourages an examination of the over-reliance of pharmaceutical solutions in the United States. Spitz’s work freezes moments of chaos in time, to be dissected and understood by the artist after the fact. The majority of her most intimate traumatic life experiences are captured through her lens, and finds a second life in the digital sphere on Instagram, to a community of over 50 thousand followers, which blurs the lines between catharsis and entertainment.

From the artist about the exhibition-

Since 2009, I have been making photographs of my mentally ill, substance-abusing mother. Her diagnoses change frequently-from alcoholism to dissociative identity disorder–and my relationship with her has been fraught with animosity for as long as I can remember. I am fully aware that my mother thrives on being the center of attention and that, at times, our portrait sessions encouraged her erratic behavior.

The photographs are simultaneously upsetting and encouraging; honest and theatrical; loving and hateful. By turning the camera toward my mother and my relationship with her, I capture her behavior as an echo of my own emotional response. The images function like an on going conversation.

The series in installation form encourages an examination of the role prescription drugs play in the United States. Aiming to prompt discussions on the cultural, social, and individual implications of an overreliance on pharmaceutical solutions. Through visual metaphors and imagery, You Have Nothing to Worry about continues to raise awareness about the need for a balanced and holistic approach to health and well-being. While acknowledging the limitations and potential pitfalls of relying solely on prescription medications.

The immersive exhibition functions as a thought-provoking commentary on the pervasive and complex issue of prescription drug culture in America. Through the meticulous arrangement of pill bottles, pills, photographs, and family ephemera, I seek to engage viewers in a dialogue about the consequences of our society’s reliance on pharmaceutical drugs.

The Vanity, pictured above, which includes family notes and photos, adds even more depth to the family’s struggles.

From the artist-

I have always been interested in sculptural installations and photography. Sandy Skoglund, Jeff Wall and Carrie Mae Weems are a few big names who have directly inspired me. The obsessive nature of details and experience only add to telling a story and I’ve been eager to find a way to participate. This vanity belonged to my great-aunt Sophie and has been in my bedroom my whole life, it went to college and graduate school with me, and my brother has been storing it since I moved to New York. This exhibition presented the perfect opportunity to utilize it. Informed by actual experiences, The Vanity, showcases family ephemera, letters from my mom, pill bottles, scattered pills, lipsticks and flickering candles. The mirror allows viewers to reflect on their own shared familiarity.

Spitz also created You Are The Nail, pictured below, for the exhibition.

Her description of the work-

I’m not sure when I first heard the phrase “when your only tool is a hammer, you begin to see everything as a nail” but it was used regarding my mom being over medicated and her prescriptions mixing, sending her into another psychotic episode. It wasn’t the doctors’ fault, or mom’s or the pharmacist but the drugs, they were to blame. I was frustrated and angry and confused, but too young to understand that doctors received kickbacks for writing certain prescriptions and that patients like my mom were a goldmine. I do want to be clear that I know anti-psychotic medications have saved people’s lives and mom would not be able to function normally without a carefully balanced mix of mood stabilizers, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills. But all too quickly do I find doctors in almost any capacity pushing drugs on me…I was alarmed to learn that the United States pharmaceutical industry generates over 110 bilion dollars of revenue each year.

You are the Nail is a series of ten hammers representing the ten most prescribed anti-psychotic / antidepressant pharmaceutical drugs in the United States. Several of which my mom is prescribed. Informed by Abraham Maslow’s theory of over reliance, you are the nail visually depicts our mental health field’s greatest tool, prescription drugs. The hammers are titled, Zoloft, Lexapro, Trazadone, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, Seroquel, Celexa, Vensir and Abilify.

This exhibition closes 1/13/24.

Mar 282023
 

“Oil Bunkering #9, Niger Delta, Nigeria”, 2016

“Gold Tailings #1, Doornkop Gold Mine, Johannesburg, South Africa”, 2018,

“Salt Ponds #1, Near Fatick, Senegal”, 2019

“Salt Ponds #1, Near Fatick, Senegal”, 2019 (detail)

“Uranium Tailings #13, Husab Uranium Mine, Namibia”, 2018

Edward Burtynsky’s photographs are visually arresting and often made more so by the need to look closer to discover what exactly is being captured. Some look like paintings at first glance before you realize there are roads or other man made structures contained within them.

From the Sundaram Tagore’s press release-

Since the early 1980s, Edward Burtynsky has been photographing industrial landscapes across the globe, documenting in remarkable detail the human imprint on the planet through terraforming, extraction, urbanization and deforestation. For African Studies, premiering in New York simultaneously at Sundaram Tagore Gallery and Howard Greenberg Gallery, he focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, traveling to Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Madagascar and Tanzania between 2015 and 2020.

Burtynsky’s interest in Africa was sparked 20 years ago while he was working on his landmark 2004 photographic project China, which explores the country’s rapid globalization and the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. The series, and subsequent award-winning documentary film by Jennifer Baichwal, Manufactured Landscapes (2006), chronicle China’s transformation into the world’s leading manufacturer and depository for its waste. Burtynsky witnessed firsthand the immense environmental—and by extension, human—cost of development, and he predicted Africa would be the next, and perhaps the last, region to undergo major industrial expansion.

Presented in large-format photographs, African Studies conveys the fragility of the natural world, bringing together images of lush, undisturbed landscapes and environments irretrievably altered by industry. The series was largely photographed from aerial perspectives, a viewpoint that distills the continent’s diverse topography into graphic patterns and gradients of sumptuous color. The resulting effect seemingly transforms the marks of human infrastructure into painterly abstract compositions. In these images, as in all his work, Burtynsky skillfully integrates critical reporting with sublime visual aesthetics creating a harmonious balance between content and form.

“With this project I hope to continue raising awareness about the cost of growing our civilization without the necessary consideration for sustainable industrial practices and the dire need for implementing globally organized governmental initiatives and binding international legislations in order to protect present and future generations from what stands to be forever lost,” Burtynsky said.

Also on view in another section of the gallery are works from his series, Natural Order. The photographs were taken in Grey County, Ontario, during the lockdown in the spring of 2020.

This quote from Burtynsky was on the wall nearby in regards to the series-

“From the frigid sleep of winter to the fecund urgency of spring, these images are an affirmation of the complexity, wonder and resilience of the natural order in all things. I find myself gazing into an infinity of apparent chaos, but through that selective contemplation, an order emerges an enduring order that remains intact regardless of our own human fate.”

This exhibition closes 4/1 at Sundaram Tagore Gallery and 4/22 at Howard Greenberg Gallery.

 

Mar 092023
 

It’s the last few days to see Jean-François Bouchard’s Exile from Babylon at Arsenal Contemporary in NYC. The film in the back room of the gallery gives you a chance to see the people who are missing from the photos. Alone or in groups, they drift between the three screens among the vast open space of the desert.

From the press release-

For this new body of work, the Canadian artist documented a squatters’ camp in California. Driven by homelessness, drug addiction or libertarianism, some Americans choose to reject modern society – Babylon as they call it – to form unlikely communities of squatters and wanderers seeking collective refuge. On a decommissioned military base in the desert, the community photographed by Bouchard lives without any form of local government and without any basic services such as running water, electricity, or garbage removal. On inhospitable grounds, they established themselves in shanties, makeshift tents, shipping containers, crumbling recreational vehicles, and even dens dug into the ground.

For Exile from Babylon, Bouchard has elected to represent the community’s grueling reality metaphorically through a series of still life photographs of trees. Each is adorned with garbage and debris that were either thrown at them or carried through the harsh desert winds. Collectively, these surreal postapocalyptic scenes testify to vast disparities that exist in our modern societies and the quest of fascinating characters for a sense of fulfillment derived through absolute freedom and how it is acquired at a great personal sacrifice.

This exhibition closes 3/11/23