Finishing up the most recent NYC gallery crawl

I’ve been completely remiss in getting this info to you in any kind of timely manner, for that I apologize. I have just had too much in my “little world” that needed attending to. Thanks for coming back to read the blog.

Douglas Witmer at the Painting Center.
I think by now you know I really like Douglas’s work so I’m not going to spend too much time about surface, process nor Douglas’s approach that essentially allows his paintings to sit in the world as what they are – paintings not representations of paintings or a desire for these objects to be something they are not. I find this approach really refreshing. It’s also a good thing that these are engaging and memorable artworks.

Douglas says “I want to believe that the relationship of painting values inquiry over conclusion.” I agree with this and believe that his works might just be doing this.

My two favorites from his show, Field + Stream, were Say So and Is and Isn’t. Especially Is and Isn’t with its field of deep blue that you can just sink into. The visual above is from the installation of both Say So and Is and Isn’t.

This show closed the day after I saw it, sorry about that.

Don Voisine at McKenzie Fine Art
It seems like everyone is writing about this show, so I’m not going to present any groundbreaking ideas here – I just want to say what a soild and well executed show this is. The few moments I spent with the gallery staff showing me additional works was also time well spent.

Voisine gets far too much mileage with what appears on first glance to be a jazz like riff on Russian Constructivism, which is a really unfair thing to say as the longer you spend with the work the voices of others quickly fade into the background and you are left with an artist making smart works that go beyond the traditional geometric sphere of approaches that so many artists have – and he becomes a crafty painter pulling surprises out of very seemingly mundane things.

For further reading on this great show, check out Joanne Mattera’s and Steven Alexanders blog’s.

LANDSCAPE AS GRID, Lloyd Martin and Johnnie Winona Ross at Stephen Heller.
I entered this show with a set of expectations pre-built in I know both of these artists work very well and the leit motif of the show suited them perfectly. Johnnie Ross’s work has parts of a landscape aesthetic this comes through in his titles and verbal dialog, however to call him a landscape painter doesn’t quite work for me. Although the impulse is there but, only through the dialog of his work not so much in reading the work alone. Admittedly I see more of the post minimal painters in his work and tend to shy away from the landscape readings – although they are there, quietly in the background.

Lloyd Martin’s work fits this perfectly, his gridded abstraction works with the rhythms of the urban environment and recalls some of the high points of early 1960’s abstraction while staying away from looking dated and stale, the painterliness of his work is engaging and allows the viewer to stay with the work to find unexpected surprises inside the gridded picture plane.

Gordon Moore at Betty Cuningham.
Gordon Moore’s work is new to me, however I was instantly taken with his paintings and paper works that mine an approach that is based not on reduction but of a restricted palette and approach. these paintings with the dissolving grid and neutral colors, have disparate parts that eventually relate to and reinforce the whole image. This connectedness seems to be the lynchpin that holds these artworks together. What becomes very apparent as you spend some time with the work is the expansive vocabulary that seems to come from the work. No matter how restricted that vocabulary may seem from a casual glance.

Highly recommended.

PUBLIC/PRIVATE at Arlington Arts Center

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3822229&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1

Jeffry Cudlin has put together a thought provoking show built on a premise of Arts relationship with life as we live it. All of the artists have developed works that are built with objects and items that are in our day-to-day life experience.

My highlights of the show:
Anissa Mack, My Sister’s Diary. Every week, new copies of redacted pages from the artist’s sister’s journal are posted onto this public bulletin board outside of the arts center. What I really like about this is the handwriting of the journal pages are different and the same all at the same time – it has an authenticity that is really engaging.

Mandy Burrow, creates tableau that are made and meant to be seen in her subjects’ living spaces. The installations could be just about anything, but the artist claims a collaboration with the intended subject. I believe this, but miss what might be a certain unspoken eccentricity to the installations. They seem almost too in order. However they are rich in detail and pathos.

Christian Moeller, Mojo. A curious video of a theater spotlight follows random passer-bys’ as the move through the beam. This is both amusing and weirdly big brother-ish. I feel it asks more questions than it answers and at the same time, the questions are barely whispered by the art – while only coming to the forefront upon further thought about the work.

All in all the show puts forth an idea of art not always thought about or seen. If fact I’m sure you could point at some of the “major art critics” of our time (and years gone by) and see their disdain for this sort of thinking. It’s a curious place to visualize a group of art works from, and to be most successful, I think it requires viewers to think about the show afterwords and question a notion or two about what they expect from the art in our time.

Currently in galleries in Chelsea and the Bowery

Hiroshi Sugimoto – 7 days 7 nights at Gagosian
In what was probably the biggest surprise to me, this is probably the most intense and rewarding show currently up right now. In the past, I have never been the biggest fan of Sugimoto – he seemed a little easy, and the images seemed a bit boring – I really thought it was the case of the emperor’s new clothes. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrong in my life.

Here’s the easy part, it’s a show of 14 photos. Upon entering the gallery you see seven photos in a line in a pristine white room. Everything is equally spaced it is literally like looking at one line of a calendar. The images are close to identical and frankly at this point I went in and studied the images, they reveal themselves slowly and force the viewer to spend some time with the image to get anything out of it. Then a guard led me into a totally black room, I took a corner and saw another line of seven. The night photos are shown in the black room are displayed almost the same way that Avedon showed the miners in the American West show here at the Corcoran in the early eighties, while the two shows have almost nothing in common they have almost everything in common. Eventually your eyes adjust and the images are popping off the wall. Its almost violent how much info your getting from the images. I started to notice that the images were revealing themselves in subtle ways I wasn’t expecting, the blacks and grays are so close that when they finally show the differences between each other it is just amazing.

A question I had leaving the gallery was who is able to print these? I mean your talking about some serious tonal differences that I don’t think anyone can calibrate these in a standard darkroom environment, the printing of these alone is masterwork, while the installation is genius. Combined it makes for a very special gallery experience.

I know very little of the official approach of the work, however, ideas of time, motion and stillness become the guideposts of the work in its entirety.

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Ligurian Sea, Saviore, 1993
Gelatin silver print
47 x 58 3/4 inches unframed (119.4 x 149.2 cm)
Ed. of 5

Imi Knoebel at Mary Boone
Have I ever said that the Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea is like a church? It’s just an amazing structure, that certain shows kind of get swallowed up in that great space. This is not one of them.

As a friend of Blinky Palermo, Knoebel currently has an exhibition up at Dia:Beacon of works of his from the late sixties that are dedicated to Palermo, however the new work being show at Boone is really interesting These continue to explore his interest in picture space, support and color. The presentation is just amazing and the images themselves quiet but demanding of your attention.

Imi Knoebel, installation view

Worth Noting: Andrew Moore currently has a pair of amazing photographs up at Yancey Richardson. Although not an exhibit the two images by themselves are very close. Currently hung is new work showing the decay of the american rust belt, the images are sublime and tinged with a warmth that is hard to dislike. These were up in the back area, I hope they are still there if you get a chance to go.

Andrew Moore is also the Producer/Director of Photography of one of my favorite art biographies How To Paint A Bunny, a feature about the life of Ray Johnson.

Jim Dine – Hot Dream (52 Books) at Pace
I know that Jim Dine has ben focusing on his poetry quite a little bit, and upon looking at the current show, I think it’s the best thing he could ever have done. This show is like someone took his mind opened it up, dumped it on the floor and threw it all over the place. You have everything in this show it’s all there, all over the place and it’s all right. Those magnificent drawing of tools he did in the seventies are here, as are photos and sculptures of the recent “Pinocchio” works, as well as Santa Claus and every little bit of detritus floating around his brain. It is a brilliant and magnificent show. It’s also messy and fucked up and even stronger because of it.

It’s almost unbelievable as well, especially when you consider that it is showing at Pace, not a smaller, but larger risk taking type space.

The work on display means less to me than watching dine take over this space and change it to match the psychographic mood of what he does and possibly how he works. The show is fascinating and inspiring. I wonder if we might be moving into an era where only successful artists will be able to take these kind of risks in a commercial space – I want to see even bigger risks being taken with even bigger approaches getting even better results. This is not the show of an artist who is slowing down, but of an artist that is still looking with his eyes, heart, and mind – and then thinking about it to new and unexpected results.

Jim Dine, installation view

Peter Dayton – Black Boards, White Chicks, part II at Salon 94 Freemans
One complaint – what a pain in the ass to find this gallery. I had mapped it and still needed directions.

Other than that the show is a knockout. Peter Dayton has been on my hit list for the last few months and when I received word that this show would consist mostly of his amazing Black Stella paintings, well, I wanted to go. For those late to the party, here is what Dayton does; (in a nut shell) He plays the high culture/low culture game better than anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s that simple.

The Black Stella paintings play with shared images of Frank Stella’s “Black” paintings of the fifties through a filter of the california finish fetish movement of the sixties. Although these have one more layer attached – they look almost exactly like a Stacey Peralta Warp Tail Skateboard deck that was manufactured by Gordon & Smith in the late seventies/early eighties. I should know because every little hessian rocker type kid I knew had one – even me. In fact I had two because my first one got ran over by a car and was snapped in half.

Back to the work, earlier Dayton’s that I’ve seen play with color field painting – usually early Kenneth Noland (his stripes before the targets and chevrons), but these, with the Frank Stella “logo” on the top of the board mimic every important signifier that the real boards had, while using the geometric approach that Stella used. The idea is just so well executed it is hard not to be thrilled with the work. It is a show that asks a little bit from the viewer but returns more than asked with a smart approach and
pristine execution along with smart aleck humor thrown in for good measure.

Bonus Play: A great little story told to me in a gallery that day.
I was talking to a friend at a gallery about how bad the Diebenkorn show recently at the Phillips was – and we were bummed because we both really like his work but this was just student stuff that probably was best to be shown as a piece of two for guidance in a larger show as opposed to an entire show of immature works he did while pursuing his masters.

Here’s the story I was told. It is similar, but kind of worse.

She was at a show and the curator pulls out this painting from a flat file, that even in the best of times is laced with every bad Aryan stereotype you can think of. it’s a blond haired, blue eyed mother in traditional german garb (think sound of music here) with a daughter in front, same kind of features, etc. while in the background it’s the alps on the cleanest day that there ever was. Both of the figures are staring up and out to the bright future only illustrated in images like that. She turns to the curator and says “what is this?” The curator without missing a beat says. “It’s a Franz Kline”.

Facebook

I never thought that I would write about facebook – but what the hell. Over the holiday my college class (Corcoran School of Art) discovered each other on facebook when a couple of people started posting photos of our time together. I’ve never been one to be too sentimental, I almost religiously skip reunions, etc but when these photographs were placed in front of me, it sent me into a tizzy of compulsively and incessantly thinking about things from when I was in school. To be frank, the thinking about myself was not too kind. I guess it’s easy to see your failings when they are behind you, and view others as being more in control, attractive, whatever adjective you might use. I would probably guess that we were all kind of fucked up, but I think I’m near the top of that list. It’s very probable that I still am.

For the most part I’m camera shy, so I didn’t think that there were too many pictures of me around – well one surfaced yesterday and although the shirt I’m wearing in it is about the greatest shirt ever known to man (for the record, that shirt is a white, van huesen, 100% cotton, with a tab collar – yes, I wear it better than Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones and even better than Dylan did on the cover of Blonde on Blonde), In the photo, I look either bitter or unhappy (maybe both), so I went home and rummaged around my old negatives and found a couple of things.

I realized I was even more pretentious than I thought I was. So in an act of stupidity, enjoy. Please don’t ask for me to scan all 36 shots – I could barely deal with the few I did scan. I think I’m still wearing that shirt as well. I still need to find a somewhat friendly photo of me also.

I also stumbled over a few photographs of the collages I was doing in school – I scanned them also. I will be back in the present tomorrow or so.

Two for one in Philadelphia November 8

I hope you’ll join me Saturday November 8, from 4-6pm for an open/close reception event at Green Line Art Projects in Philadelphia.

It’s a two for one kind of deal – my show is going down while John Tallmans’ work is going up.

Here are the details from Douglas at Green Line…

Closing will be Matthew Langley’s “Recent Paperworks” exhibition.  It’s your last chance to see this DC artist’s terrific geometric paintings.  Matthew will be there, too.  So stop by to meet him!  Opening will be “Contemporary Two-Dimensional Art Objects For Home or Office by John Tallman.”  Tallman is a Philly-area native, now based in Chattanooga by way of Korea.  Tallman will exhibit a brand new series of colored resin coated paper pieces specifically created for this show.