Art Review

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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Trees with Personality

Moving_On_CC.jpgIcon - Mary Hrbacek
Creon Gallery

Anthropomorphic trees. Some of you have seen them: a shadowy form of a tree darkened by day’s end,looming like a spirit inhabited by a human soul. Or maybe you have seen a face in oddly contoured bark that exhibits the characteristics of a human face. The intent of Mary Hrbacek is to take some of these personifications and paint them as evocative portraits to show all living things as equally important and integral. By using trees, a form that can be found in all ages and cultures, Hrbacek creates a basis for a universal essence that weaves through all life forms. Read more »

Four One One

Baiz_Alone_I_Sing.jpgI recently had the opportunity to see a number of shows in Beacon and in Chelsea. These are the shows that inspired me to write my new colmn.

Hetty Baiz: This Very Body at the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York looks great in that space, which is somewhat angular, of mixed materials, multi-functional, and vertically oriented. Baiz's work (above), which is life-sized, mixed in media, and representative of lone figures, falls somewhere between the domesday look of Manuel Neri's eroded sculptures and the solitude of Nathan Oliveira's lone figures set against stark landscapes. With Baiz, we see a more profound infusion of an individual soul, a definite human presence, despite the fact that her subjects look as deflated as a balloon that lost its air. Read more »

Passive Aggressive

pink-menOne of the greatest things about New York City is how art is exhibited all around us, even on the third floor of the shuttered-looking New York Psychoanalytical Institute, where a small exhibition of mixed media works examines a loaded topic: "On Aggression."

Given how innate aggression is to humanity, the venue is appropriate. Exhibition notes remind us that aggression is as primordial as the sex drive, and the Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination has used the exhibition as a jumping off point for a series of interrelated panel discussions, the final one of which, "The Politics and Psychobiology of Sex and Violence," takes place on April 5th. Read more »

Midtown Madness

strangelove-1Strangelove is bizarre indeed, yet very successful. This installation by Michael Zansky takes full advantage of its unique location. Curated by D. Dominick Lombardi, it’s staged at The Lab, a gallery in a busy corner of midtown Manhattan. The viewer cannot enter the all-glass gallery but must view the piece from the street. This installation is minimally staged, consisting of four large circular lenses, actively reflecting street life, and an expressionless female mannequin dressed in business attire and slumped on top of a rotating pedestal. Read more »

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