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.


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