September 2013 is like a Box of Chocolates

One of the reasons that I returned to the East Village so soon was that my previous August art stomp with David Carbone ran longer than expected and we did not get to visit The Sweet Life, a local candy store on Hester Street. So before David and I headed off to see what the art world had to offer, my sweet tooth had to be placated with chocolate cherries and licorice Scotty dogs. What we found after David slapped me out of my diabetic coma was much like the selection at The Sweet Life, extremely surprising and varied.

Speaking of treats, Marlboro Gallery on Broome Street (yeah, you heard me right) has its inaugural show up, entitled Pizza Time, September 8 - October 6, a show dedicated to one of New York’s unofficial edible staples. Beside some great wallpaper works by John Baldessari and a debatable work, "Untitled Circle"by Willem de Kooning, there were some very well-balanced and fabulously lush paintings by Catherine Ahearn. See "Untitled (pizza 3)" 2011, mixed media.

Moving right along on Broome Street, we also stopped in at White Box, where Hyman Bloom's Paintings and Drawings 1940-2005 has been held over until September 23 -- this show focuses on Bloom's late work, in this case portraits of rabbis. This is an unusual show for White Box, but we were glad to see it; -- one could argue that Bloom is one of the more important American painters. This focus by White Box on late works was a very precise look at the romantic-mystical side of Lower East Side culture (see "Jew with Torah"). David felt that the show was like "being present at a shamanistic calling up of the lost Rabbis of Europe; if a curator set the best of them against Bacon's Popes, Bacon might well look wanly camp."

Almost a week later, David and I made it to Chelsea, where our first stop was Margaret Thatcher Projects to see the Nan Swid exhibition In Formation (September 19- October 19). Truthfully I was very excited to take David to Thatcher Projects because I love, love, love this show. Swid has assembled various handmade or appropriated books and objects that are richly coated in encaustic, good enough to eat. It also speaks to so many things I find missing in today's art, including the surface detail as well as each section having its own contrasting identity. See "NY 6," (2013, encaustic on mixed media, 70 x 37.5 x 2.5 inches). David thought that "these post-minimal works recalled the pointed indifference to archivally stabile objects shared in the early monochrome works of Rauschenberg and Kline’s black and white paintings, where he used cheap house paint." "Each piece foregrounds the death of its objects and seems to celebrate cultural loss, even as we look, the browning pages of these books are slowly burning. An interesting about-face for an artist who used to collaborate with architects, don't you think?" I agreed.

Across the street at Von Lintel Gallery is Rosemarie Fiore's Smoke Paintings (September 5 - October 19). I like that Fiore's pictures are not only expressive and lyrical but exactly what they say they are, as in "Smoke Painting #35" (colored smoke firework residue on paper [above]). David thought they had "the baroque extravagance of late Rosenquist paintings." I thought they certainly had the vibrant pallet. Moreover, Fiore is a good addition to the Von Lintel program of artists who work with varied and interesting techniques.

At David’s suggestion and my happiness we then headed over to D.C. Moore to see Barbara Takenaga's New Work (September 5 - October 5). Takenaga's work is vibrant and reminiscent of the Gutai painters of 1950s Japan or the Op artists of the 1960s, as in the show’s signature work, "Lines of Force (Red), (acrylic on wood panel [top of page]). Exquisitely crafted and as obsessive as a Kusama, we agreed that this show was full of new and varied inventions for Takenaga. At one point David turned to me with a smile and said, "These cosmic images turn the music of the spheres into the giddy tones of a calliope." So I said, "Oh Stop!"

For our last stop on this particular tour, we turned on impulse to Ameringer, McEnery, Yohe gallery, where some of Gene Davis's signature works are on view from September 5 to October 12. The show features some of his stellar candy-colored stripes, but if you step up to the canvas, one can see how these linear masterworks are hand-painted and stained so lovingly, as in "Yellow Jacket" (1969, acrylic on canvas 107 ¼ x 220 inches [above]). As if popping a few chocolate-covered cherries into our mouths, David and I basked in the hedonistic optimism of the 1960s before going out into the late afternoon sun. Looking forward to pumpkins and candy corn in October when David and I set out again! - Elizabeth Stevens with David Carbone

Ms. Stevens has been in Art and Antiques for 30 years, from representing her family's auction house in Cincinnati to Import Director at Hedley's New York in the early '90s to Salander O' Reilly Galleries, organizing art fairs and traveling exhibitions for more than 12 years. She is the former director of Yellow Bird Gallery in Newburgh, NY as well as the former Exhibitions Curator for the Thomas Cole House. She is now the owner of Elizabeth Stevens & Co. with offices in New York, New Jersey, and soon Florida.

Mr. Carbone is a painter, a critic, a curator and an educator. He has shown nationally in galleries and museums; written for Modern Painters and The Sienese Shredder anthologies, among other publications; occasionally appeared on NPR's Morning Edition with David D'Arcy between 1992-2005; and curated selected retrospectives. He is currently the director of graduate studies in studio arts at the University at Albany, where he teaches painting.

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