Monday, January 09, 2006

Joy of craftsmanship in chelsea

Time again to get out and see some work before the closing of the shows. I am glad to have gotten out when I did, but sorry that I didn't post sooner as it means that some of the shows will have already closed.

So the top of the list, two shows that were fantastically good. One of which blew my socks off. (Isn't that a fun visual image?)

We started the day off well with the Cynthia Atwood show at Morgan Lehman. The works were sculptural works that investigate something between organic and bodily forms , rendered in precious and fine fabrics. The work elevates the forms to a more regal and celebrated place. The works were created with evident care and attention to detail. They were consuming and intriguing, easy to spend time investigating at length - tactile, somatic, organic, feral...

The blow my socks off work was Robert Jack at Josee Bienvenue. He was showing ink on paper and a few paintings. The artist has taken the obsession of mark making to an extreme. The drawings were obsessively created with the repetition of at most three forms of "marks" all small and repeated ad infinitum to create a larger whole that contained surface, depth and texture. We kept walking around the gallery saying, "hey come look at this!" "wow" and just generally feeling overwhelmed and impressed with the intensity of the work.

Caren Golden Fine Art had a fun show of plastic balls in the gallery and out in the environment by McKendree Key. Going to keep that gallery on my watch list as they have some interesting artists on their roster, Jonathon Calm, Seong Chun, Richard Klein, and Paul Henry Ramirez.

We saw some other shows, Shinique Smith at The Proposition. She created large bundles of clothing, investigating the disposable culture of the urban environment. Her earlier, more graffiti based works are more interesting, although I liked the piece in this show that worked with sculptural elements and graffiti on the wall. Some other works at Feature, ClampArt, Daniel Reich and Alexander & Bonin, but nothing worth noting.

Sunday we had plans to go see the galleries in Williamsburg. Which turned out to be fortuitous since the L Train wasn't running into Manhattan *sigh* again.

I want to note out front one really huge difference between Manhattan and Brooklyn (well Williamsburg in particular) galleries. The Williamsburg galleries are, well, friendly. No, its not really important when looking at art to have someone chatting you up, or have a dog or cat greet you at the door, but it sure is welcoming. Usually I am just looking to get in, look at the work and get out, and avoid all human (or animal) interaction. But the *vibe* in the WillyB galleries is to hang out, enjoy the work a bit longer, talk to people get to know something more about the artists, the gallery or the dealer, it definitely creates a better atmosphere if I were ever thinking to actually plop down a pile of money for some art. So Manhattan galleries, take note, friendliness might just bring out a wallet or two...

Having said that, the very generalized sense of the works in W. (the name just keeps getting shorter) is of work that is more experimental, and to its detriment, sometimes less well crafted. And so the quick rundown...

We met at the coffeeshop next to the Bedford Cheese Shop (there is some physical or chemical thing in my brain which keeps me from remembering the name of said coffee shop, but Bedford Cheese Shop is easy for me to remember!) and from there we started with the little gallery in the window, Realform Project, where Linda Byrne had installed replicas of birds nests made with those plastic six-pack things. She describes the work better than I do, so get the rundown here. Jack the Pelican was showing the work of Tim Folland, who creates disturbing and overwrought mechanisms for destroying paintings, the gallery becomes the memorial to the act. The strange thing was the evidence of and incredible amount of work which goes into the show. The videos and music are all manic, and certainly leave one feeling that coffee isn't all that necessary.

Black and White Gallery is a beautiful space, showing paintings by K. K. Kozik, which seem romantic and surreal. The outdoor space features an urban forest constructed by Sook Jin Jo. Whose drawings are really nice too.

We stopped by Momenta and Pierogi (the two old guards) on our way to see Hogar Collection (with the nice dog), and the interesting work of Adam Stennet, and his mice, at 31 Grand. Though I can't quite work out the fascination with the mice, and the video was strange and disturbing, the works are nonetheless beautiful and captivating. The mice are placed in somewhat tenuous positions that you realize they couldn't have gotten into without help from outside (Mr Stennet?) forces.

Crossed under the bridge and contemplated stopping for brunch at Williamsburg diner, but kept on to visit Outrageous Look, featuring a group show of works of strange and delirious landscapes. Some whimsical, others distraught, and some so completely disconnected from any sense of reality that they were really hard to get inside.

Through the bus depot and back under the bridge to get to KBP, and Ch'i, both very friendly galleries. KBP showing a strange installation of sculptures and fairies celebrating the female form, and Ch'i showing overly slick paintings and sculptures.

Went to get coffee at Oslo Coffee Co. on Roebling and stopped in at Gallery Boreas (who have an outpost in Reykjavik!) who show some interesting and diverse artists, but the current work by Peter Finnemore held no interest for anyone in my group. McCaig-Welles had gorgeous grey persian who stole the show. (All of this in a new building where once a chicken slaughterhouse stood - yeh, the neighborhood has changed).

The trek took us then back under the BQE over towards the Lorimer stop. Klaus Von Nichtssagend (worlds most difficult to say gallery name) featured a group show of drawings, the most intriguing of which was a drawing that was not actually part of the show, but was done by the charming young man at the desk, Matthew Chase. And adding the link in to Matthew's work I realize he is the artist who creates the boiled chewing gum and chewed paper pieces which I just love.

Our last stop was NutureArt, whose group show "Structuring Perception" included some good works in a sadly too small space to really enjoy them. Nevertheless its a great program that puts emerging curators and artists together to provide a venue for their experiments.

Which is a good note on which to end the day, since it sums up what I already said about W. galleries - experimental, a little rougher and mixed in the quality of work, but worth a trip out to see the shows...


Anonymous said...

maybe you should make use of the good vibe of wburg galleries and bother to read press release before you write your scattered brain prose ... with your "wows' and other deep interpretation .. why are you bothering.

esm said...

It's too bad this comment doesn't have a bit more information regarding the show about which I should 'read a press release' before going. I can't say as I know many people who do bother to read press releases before going to see shows at galleries, so I am not sure how that would have affected what were truly subjective opinions of the work. And to be honest, I only ever read artists statements and the ilk when I *already* like the work.
I have not claimed to be a professional critic, nor even a terribly good writer, but I would hope that someone who would write something like 'why would you bother' would have a some well presented argument to back up their comments.
I started this blog as a way to get better at writing about art, and share with those who might be interested some of the work that I find out in the new york art world. I don't write it from the point of view of a widely published art critic who is beholden to a mass audience (and whose views are also I am afraid subjective).
Please send me the press release about the work to which you are referring. I would gladly read it, but I have some doubts as to how that might improve my writing.