Art Review

Nothing Old, Just Reimagined

salle_tennysonI was very excited to hear that Katherine Mulherin and John Pollard opened a gallery in Chelsea. I came to know John from my many trips to Richmond when I was doing crits and lectures for VCU. His Richmond gallery, ADA, has a roster of artists who often favor a hi-low mix of dark humor -- I was delighted to have a show of my paintings there in '08. Mulherin is maintaining her base gallery in Toronto, as she shifts her secondary L.A. emphasis to this new venture in N.Y.C. Her Toronto roster has similarities to what John looks for, especially with respect to palpable art-making skill, though Mulherin leans slightly more to the conceptual. Read more »

Mid-Day in Mid-Town


Victor Matthews: Alter Ego Paintings
Wendt Gallery, NYC

I am currently working on two curatorial projects. Nature Calls opens this July at SICA in Long Branch, NJ. The second show, which opens this December at Kim Foster Gallery in Chelsea, brought me to today's meeting at D.C. Moore Gallery in midtown. My goal was to discuss and select works by the incomparable Whitfield Lovell. After my successful tête-à-tête with Heidi Lange, I took a quick look at D.C. Moore’s current show of works by Katherine Bowling, an accomplished painter whose forte is to capture the small miracles that sunlight produces on such things as dewy grass and tree blossoms. Read more »

Divine Comedy: Drawings by R. Crumb & Roz Chast

r-crumbDivine Comedy: Drawings by R. Crumb & Roz Chast
Westport Arts Center
Curated by Helen Klisser During

"Mr. Natural in Death Valley" the great man (an ex-taxicab driver from Afghanistan) has been meditating in the desert for forty days! How does he do it!? This title, text, and the art that accompanied it were by R. Crumb. It was published in Zap Comix no.0, which for many of us comic book kids was our first fully illustrated link to the world of sex and drugs. I wasn't quite thirteen when that publication first came out in the fall of 1967, and, despite the fact that the sexual revolution was in full swing, us pre-teen suburbanites were more or less outsiders looking in. Hence, my window was formed in most part by the underground comic books -- I still prefer the word comix -- I read with my friends. Read more »

The Works of Peter Gazdag

out-peter-gazdagOur ancient ancestors adorned their civilizations with artwork telling us the story of peoples and ways of life from otherwise forgotten periods in human history. With the ever-growing gap between today’s art market and mainstream culture, if future generations were to uncover much of the contemporary art created over the past few decades, it’s debatable what it would communicate about us and our society. With all the movements and experiments, the basic thread of public accessibility seems to have been abandoned in the world of visual arts. Peter Gazdag is a Budapest-born artist dedicated to restoring humans to the art form as he explores new narrative techniques with canvas and paint. Read more »

Readings: Edward Hopper House Art Center, Nyack

Kay.Ramble.acrysmall_010The subject of the two-person show Readings is books and their meaningfulness to the artists that depict them. In Stanford Kay's paintings, books are sometimes stacked, sometimes shelved (as in "Ramble," left), and other times placed on tabletops in a non-static grid. The core format, the classic type from this body of work, is the shelved book (straight-on compositions) variously sized and colored (books seen with binding out set straight up and down along thin shelves), all veiled in color and wispy brush strokes. In "The Natural World," various representations of leaves are applied near the end of the painting process suggesting the outdoors, a vision sometimes imagined while reading novels set in gardens, valleys or forests.

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Compulsive Patterning

LW_UntitledLaura Watt's exhibit of obsessively patterned oil paintings and drawings is exquisite. Watt is a colorist who creates extremely detailed and meticulous works. She has taken '70s Op Art to a higher plane; it's just as intense, but her palette is toned down and her work shows the artist's hand.

Working within the tradition of abstraction, Watt has developed her own unique vocabulary. There is a subtle evolution in the show from the earliest painting in 2004 to the 2009 pieces. An early square painting titled "50402" dazzles in its tight highly defined geometric construction; one is mesmerized studying each detailed segment of the painting. Yet as Watt moves on she loosens up (a bit). Read more »

Bones and All

DB-knowlton72Dem Bones, Dem Bones is the catchy title -- derived from a traditional children's song -- for a diverse group show in which all the artists reference bones in some manner. The curator, Lydia Viscardi, has put together a stimulating exhibit which she subtitles The Expansive Theme of Mortality from the Sobering to the Celebratory, which covers it all. Six artists are featured with several works each, and at least thirty more are represented by one or two pieces. Read more »

Roy DeCarava R.I.P. 12/9/1919 - 10/27/2009

decarava.jpgRoy DeCarava, a Jamaican-American photographer, died on Tuesday, a month and a half shy of what would have been his 90th birthday. Three years ago, Garnette Cadogan wrote about DeCarava for CultureCatch in the context of a large DeCarava retrospective show.

While that occasion has passed, Mr. Cadogan's examination of DeCarava's greatness is still an acutely observed summary of the photographer's life and work. I would encourage everyone to click on the link above and read Mr. Cadogan's very fine article.

At left is one of DeCarava's many photographs of John Coltrane in action.

Igniting Art In Rhode Island

Moving_On_CC.jpgEveryday Ignition - Eveline Luppi Gallery Wickford, Rhode Island

There was something I never expected to see in any Rhode Island beach town - a gallery that offered something other than sail boats swaying in sunny, reflective seas, or beach scenes with cute kids attempting to make sand castles. When my wife Diane and I were in a shop in the harbor town of Wickford, we noticed a few small modernist paintings scattered about with credit labels from the Eveline Luppi Gallery. We both wondered if this meant legitimate contemporary art, so we decided to give it a shot. Read more »

All in White: Lennon: The New York Years

lennon-nycLennon: The New York Years
Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, NYC Annex

If Rock is a religion, then John Lennon is at least one of its highest ranking prophets, if not the messiah himself. Aside from the holy scripture of his music, Lennon also left behind relics, some of which are currently on display at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NYC Annex. For the devote follower of the Late Beatle, it is these relics which will make this exhibit worthwhile, whereas the average Sunday-Beatle fan stands a better chance of learning something new about one of rock ’n’ roll’s greatest martyrs. Read more »

The Faceless Masses Get Their Due: Holly Wilmeth

holly-wilmeth-fishVery few have pored over a face as does Antoine Roquentin in Sartre's Nausea:

I lean all my weight on the porcelain ledge, I draw my face closer until it touches the mirror. The eyes, nose and mouth disappear: nothing human is left. Brown wrinkles show on each side of the feverish swelled lips, crevices, mole holes. A silky white down covers the great slopes of the cheeks, two hairs protrude from the nostrils: it is a geological embossed map. And, in spite of everything, this lunar world is familiar to me. I cannot say I recognize the details. But the whole thing gives me an impression of something seen before which stupefies me: I slip quietly off to sleep. Read more »

Experimental Love

ghandi-sculptureHasnat Mehmood: I Love Miniature I
Debanjan Roy: Experiments with Truth

In recent years, the Asian artists who have dominated the Western museums and art market have been predominantly Chinese. But coming up from the rear now are a generation of young artists from the Indian subcontinent. Like their Chinese counterparts, their work is infused with contemporary preoccupations, particularly the clashes between their traditional civilization and a new, global, hi-tech society. Just as a new crop of Indian writers has brought modern India bursting onto the best seller lists, so the Indian and Pakistani artists now on show at the AICON Gallery present us with sometimes shocking reconsiderations of past and present in their native lands. Read more »

Things that Never Were and Are No More

frank-lloyd-wrightFrank Lloyd Wright
From Within Outward
Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim has chosen to celebrate its golden anniversary by paying an appropriate homage to its legendary architect. For the devoted Wright aficionado this current exhibit, Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward, constitutes the chance of a lifetime to see the original blueprints for projects left unbuilt and photos of those long since demolished. For those less familiar with Wright’s work, it will prove an intimidating crash course on one of the art form’s finest masters and can only whet the appetite for more. Read more »

You Can Look, But Please Touch

neto_6Ernesto Neto’s current installation in the Wade Thompson Drill Hall at the Park Avenue Armory is an ideal museum outing for children of all ages and adults who are willing to experience the wonder of being a child again. Neto’s anthropodino is an adventurous invitation to see, touch, and smell, spanning the epic height and width of its venue.

Bridging the gap between sculpture and architecture, this exhibit does away with the traditional “do not touch” rule that one expects when visiting a museum. Read more »

A Colorist's Mature Artistic Statement

m-hackett-artMelinda Hackett's stunning current exhibition of abstract watercolors and oil paintings at Charles Cowles Gallery in Chelsea displays a mature body of work combining her unique vocabulary of images with her skills as a colorist. The visual presentation of the work in the space evokes a display of ancient manuscripts or tapestries, possibly suggested by the framing of the watercolors with grey mats and matching frames. Yet on closer observation, the work seems very hip and contemporary. The paintings simultaneously suggest the future and the past. They reference everything from the solar system to nature to pop art, with the circle acting as the main theme.

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