Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Think of it like when you were a kid hiding in the clothes racks at Macy's


Rosanna Bruno is quite nice at producing canvases that make me wanna recite, "Here we go, loopty loo." Curator Brent Burket has his heart in my arena as Pluto Gallery does its best Toni Braxton impersonation, sans drag. My first review left off Ms. Bruno's work for the rocket scientist reason of I didn't take any photos of it, so mine brain was a bit absent minded. Either way, the ribbons of luscious color remind me of fabric swatches, and or a little boy trying to peek his way into a place he shouldn't be looking. Cool stuff.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Deja Vu at Betty Cuningham


(Above, Carmelite I, 2004)

The above sculptural work of Mia Westerlund Roosen is probably the pivotal moment of my reentry into the art world. For a year and a half after I viewed her Fall 2006 exhibition at Betty Cuningham Gallery, my mind went blank as to the artist's name, as well as to which gallery I saw the exhibit. I searched time and time again, asking acquaintances, "Who's this artist who works with giant ceramic structures, felt, and concrete in the gallery with the exposed wooden beam ceiling?" I was met with silence, or a nearly convincing response of "Rachel Whiteread" each and every time. So I took it upon myself to call all along 26th, 24th and 25th streets again to no avail. No one could ever point me in the right direction, though even speaking with the front desks Rachel Whiteread's name was mentioned far too numerous times to count. Sure, she's a great lady, but certainly not who I was looking for. Then, last fall, I found my thrill by accident while at Betty Cuningham when I took a peek through the back and saw her book lying there.

Westerlund Roosen's works have a decided flow; a pivoting, if you will, of bodies in perpetual motion, though hard edged bullwarks, all while capturing the fleet of foot in a methodical orbit. Right now, it's deja vu all over again, as my soul takes flight with sheer delight at seeing her new pieces. Below, is her new work, "Mettawee." Taking certain elements of Serra's Torqued elipses, and combining them with natural elements-- water flows atop the curved spools, a babbling brook, making a reconnection of body to the land. Westerlund Roosen sets up imagery that evokes an almost archaelogic aspect, if not spiritual connection to a long ago otherworldly realm. Some beautiful works, and the show is up now through December 6th. GO!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Scott Malbaurn at Janet Kurnatowski

Galeria Janet Kurnatowski has one of my favorite artists around, one Mr. Scott Malbaurn. Admittedly, this is a prejudiced review-- my own gallery has displayed his work, and I consider him a friend, but let me tell you this-- this guy can paint! There's lots of people out there working in the minimal/abstraction vein, but rarely are works so well made they'll likely last through earthquakes, floods, and truly stand the test of time. But in Scott's case, they will. They're also eye-poppingly gorgeous, silken soft, with sharp lines and geometric patterns carved out in such exacting lines you'll be floored. It's in Greenpoint, so be prepared for transportation issues, but I believe this is one show well worth going out of your way for.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Too many cooks in Coney Island's kitchen

Ahh, Coney Island-- tits, robots and weiners-- As Carly would sing, it's the stuff that dreams are made of.

Just got back from tonight's rabble rousin' meeting of the minds at the Municipal Art Society's first public symposium on the ever growing uncertain fate of Coney Island. They've launched a new website, Imagine Coney, whereupon anyone, anywhere, anytime can put their two cents in on how we can begin to restore the illustrious shine of yesteryear to the boardwalk. Alas, tonight's meeting featured lots of people crammed into the beautiful Brooklyn Academy of Music Cafe hoovering free beer and cheese, talking loudly on their cell phones, kvetching with their neighbors, all while Municipal Art Society representatives were trying to give a presentation. So much for open minds, and for staying on message.

There's still lots of bad blood between the old timers and the new timers -- i.e., the elephant in the room being the one true enemy-- that of Thor Equities. Unforunately for the well-meaning Municipal Art Society, which was doing a valiant effort at bridging the gap between the polar opposites, tonight's message of revitalization and a possible bright future of foot longs, vertigo-inducing death drops, and fried clams was met with a resounding chorus of "Daay toock arr jaahbs." (Best South Park Ep. Ever) Truthfully, it's not necessarily job loss, but an influx of the "new" that is scaring the long time residents who are trying to hold on to a memory, and a good one at that. But the open forum format with people waiting in the wings to ask a question (rarely) or comment (lots of those) "I love Coney. I've lived here all my life..." came about feeling like there's just too many cooks in the kitchen. And the sad fact of the matter is, all this is after the fact. Astroland is now a thing of the past. There's simply no turning back. But there were many interesting ideas put forth-- of which, yes, were ROBOT WRESTLING (AWWWW, yeah), a giant concert pavillion to lure the next Bonnaroo, and HUMAN PAC-MAN to tide us over until a permanent solution arises.

Unfortunately, for all the great ideas, one big thing is lacking-- how on earth are they going to get funding for any of this? Truthfully, this couldn't have come at a worse time. Corporate sponsors? I think thee not.

The funniest idea tonight came from one of the presenters who wants to restore the long-forgotten Shore Theater into the world's first Sing-A-Long venue. Sounds like a fantastic idea-- if you're hard of hearing.

In the meantime, below, check out the best idea submitted yet.

Trevor, I think you've got something there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gone, but not forgotten

(Mary Henderson, USS Cole, gouache on paper, 8 x 10)

When a show comes down, many of us simply file it away in our memory banks. But I say it's not time to forget just yet. Sure, a review or snippet (as this is) is always nicer when a show is up, but that shouldn't take away from what it was. Two quick shows I wanted to mention just closed-- Nicole Stager at Like the Spice Gallery in Brooklyn, and Mary Henderson at Lyons Wier-Ortt in Chelsea. Both artists do drastically different work (Henderson, a photorealist master; Stager, a photogram genius), but I enjoyed both their works equally.

I really love Henderson's work at top showcasing a navy soldier enjoying himself, and being quite an excellent camera mugger while on the job. These candid moments are ones to savor, and Henderson does a great job at humanizing those who sacrifice day in and day out. Some timely and topical images to appreciate post Veteran's Day, and boy, that girl can paint.

Stager's vibrant photograms made me crave some Now and Laters, or Starburst fruit chews. These glossy color explosions were soothing to my tired eyes filled with exhaustion. Like a full-on Red Bull caffeine upswing, I couldn't stop looking at their surfaces-- some deceptively including surprise collage (a piece of lace here, a string there). Besides color saturation, Stager has mastered the time lapse element so important to the photogram process, where you can even trace her fingerprints back to their initial point of contact with the photo paper. Check it out.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Worth a second look Lori Field at KTF Gallery

 A bit disappointed I never got around to posting these when the show was up last month in the back viewing gallery at Kinz, Tillou and Feigen, but artist Lori Field does some truly stunningly complex layered encaustics. I really can't say enough about them, except they're just gorgeous pieces. Field's works were on display during the Jennifer Coates show, which got the majority of press attention, but in all honesty, Field's work was the one that really got to me. These tiny works are just gems. Not to be overlooked. Check out more of Field's work on her website.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Breaking hearts left and right


NYC art scene blogging buddy Brent Burket (Heart As Arena) has done an outstanding job in his first curatorial outing at Pluto Gallery in Brooklyn with his group show, Unbreak My Heart. Truthfully, my own ice encrusted heart takes a hell of lot more than art to mend it, but still, there were numerous thaws to note.

First up, E.J. Hauser. Here is one artist who knows the power of a clean and smooth surface. In the late '90s, I used to quiz every artist I met at their open studios to see how they made their works so silken soft. No one I've ever encountered can come close to Ms. Hauser's high gloss sheen. You can literally see your reflection in them. I told the artist at the opening that I wish I could just lie on them. Straight from the artist's mouth on how the super-luxxe effect is created: "Enamel." So there you go. Get yourself some killer enamel paint, and buy some serious patience, because Ms. Hauser must have the patience of Job. Take a look at the detail in her wording. See how the different shades of white lettering literally pop out of the surface at you. I wonder how on earth the artist's hand holds steady enough that the letters all stay in line so straight? If I handwrite anything, it's either heading uphill or downhill. Major props to the Susan Sontag reference here. Great stuff. Loved it.

Next, Robert Schatz. Maybe it's the fact I've been obsessed with the Martin Ramirez exhibition at Ricco Maresca as of late, but Schatz's works really stood out as another skilled set comparison to the Mexican master. The depth of space that is explored is fantastic. I felt as if I was standing on the highest mountaintop in New Hampshire, gazing out at the scope of the horizon of the White Mountains lying before me. Schatz achieves his sinnewy lines through utilizing his fingers as part of his brushwork. There's so much at play here. The way it references different pathways, as well as the natural realm. Another interpretation could be wafts of billowing smoke going to and fro.

I felt the strongest work (if not of the individual artist, but also the entire show) was this piece-- a work on panel, as opposed to the other works on paper, which were still strong. You can really see how the edges of Schatz's loops push the paint out with the turn of each curve. The very nature of the panel piece really stood out at me, for here was true captive motion.

Luke Whitlach is a Los Angeles-based artist whose works can best be described as something that New York State should utilize in their next anti-smoking campaign. Instead of Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee and Cigarettes," Whitlatch's series should be titled "Coffins and Cigarettes." How else can you look at these other than as monumental cigarette butts, with foreshadowed coffin included. I love how the luxurious thick folds of the cotton duck canvas stand out in his work. It felt like a coccooning, if you will, or a protective measure. Much like a parent swaddling their newborn, so, too, does Whitlatch protect his babies. Great stuff. Take a look at this detail here. Smoking never felt so tempting to this anti-smoking Nazi.

Below are some other faves of the night.

Awash in streaming color-- Brooklyn Artist Beth Gilfilen.

The Disco Dance team of E.J. Hauser through strobe lighting....

2007-2008 Rome Prize Winning artist Kate Gilmore channels her inner society matron and Evil Knievel in her video performance Heartbreaker. I like to describe Kate as Carol Burnett, Johnny Knoxville, Anna Wintour, Susan Faludi, Bob the Builder and Gloria Steinem all wrapped up in a tight package. I always wonder why on earth she subjects herself to these crazy scenarios, but in this case, suffering for her art works. My fave part of the video wasn't the hacking away with the axe portion, but where the artist is forced to keep holding the work aloft for sheer protective measure. For she isn't just risking "heartbreak," but annihilation. Safety precautions be damned, Gilmore delivers, even if I wouldn't do this stuff if you paid me a million damn dollars.

The exhibition runs through January 19th, 2009, so no excuses for not attending if you find yourself in the Brooklyn Museum vicinity. It's a literal 7 minute hoofin'. Click here for directions.