Distribution Automatique

Monday, May 12

The Chelsea Girls

From time to time Toni Simon and Susan Bee, who are two of my favorite artists, have a field trip to Chelsea and lately i've been invited along. Susan's recent show at the A.I.R. was gorgeous, and Toni had helped her to mount it. By the way, I am the proud owner of four of Susan's paintings, two of which hang in my office and two here at home. A recent painting of a tiny fox in its mother fox' s arms, "Foxy Lady" is on the cover of Adrienne Rich's recent book *Fox: Poems: 1998-2000.* A small note graces the photo: "From the collection of Nick Piombino and Toni Simon!"The whole time we were getting ready Toni was sure we would be late, but when we got there Susan had just arrived. We were off to a quick pace immediately, and within a few hours we were many pounds lighter and had visited about 25 galleries. I'm not going to discuss all of these visits, but I think you would enjoy going through a virtual tour with these two.Someday I will be able to provide you with some images along with this kind of discussion, but for now you will have to settle with some quotes and a few descriptions. Within minutes, it seems, we had been to 10 galleries at least and in an out-of-breath, hoarse voice I whispered the word "coffee' which must have sunk in few galleries later because we were taken to a wonderful take out place, but before I had the coffee in my mouth Susan was halfway across the street again, so I grabbed my cup and followed. (I had been up all night blogging as usual). I'm not going list all the galleries we visited Saturday but I'm going to list my very favorite shows. Going with Susan to the galleries is like having a great workout with a gym trainer when you are feeling flabby; lately I've been feeling visually flabby and lazy (Susan helped curate the * Poetry Plastique* show, along with Charles Bernstein and Jay Sanders, that showed 8 of my photocollages at the Boesky Gallery early in 2001.)

My #1 favorite artist has a new show in Chelsea, Tony Oursler. Small, squat alien gnomes are constructed out of globes on the floor by videos being projected onto them. A sound track in the background adds a touch that sent me into charming elswhere where I could overhear their hilarious conversations. (When we ran into our filmaker and poet friend Abby Child, who is a friend of Tony Oursler's, she offered a quick feminist critique that gave me more than one thing to think about as we continued through the rest of the day; Abby has ideas about "bad boys" and "heroic males" that I find worthwhile and fascinating, but also make me a little bit squirmy. This show is at Metro Pictures, 519 West 24th Street.(5/6-6/6)

You should absolutely not miss Fred Thomaselli's beautiful paintings at the James Cohan Gallery, 533 West 26th Street, 5/9-6/21. These are a must! The notes read:"Tomaselli's new works are richly layered collage and painted surfaces incorporating plant life as well as images from anatomical illustrations, magazines and nature guides. The paintings draw on such varied influences at Tibetan Thangkas, Indian miniatures and the 16th Century Italian artist Guiseppe Arcimboldo. Similar in spirit to Tomaselli's earlier work which referenced the relationshiop between the sub-culture of psycedelia and utopianism, these new painting expand the dialogue into a fictive landscape where figures populate a frenzied, cosmic and worldly universe." Go soon so there will be a chance to see it again!

An awesome artist who is amazingly new to me, according to Susan we should have known of her before, is wonderful Julie Heffernan. Susan agreed that there is a pre-Raphealist quality to these three works. They are paintings of women as mythic idealized beings, such a mermaids, bathed in faded, gorgeous colors. White Box, 525 West 26th St, May 1-24. Also in this show has one work by Lisa Yuskavage whose painting I always enjoy very much- opening on Tuesday at Marianne Boesky.

Another must see is Frank Stella's new metal sculptures which are gorgeous, very graceful, and huge with an art deco feel, color and style. Definitely do not miss this show called "Bamboo" at Paul Kasmin, 293 10th Avenue, May 8-July 4.

I don't think there was complete agreement about Luc Tuymans but I loved these huge paintings depicting grays and blues painted very lightly and gently with elongated shapes in white and pink breaking through like openings in a cloudscape. A huge lovely postcard is available to take home. David Zwirner, 525 West 19th St, April 24- May 21. I think it was here that Toni ran into the sculptor Riva Potoff who is a friend of our friend, the sculptor Sal Romano.

Max Gimblett's beautiful drawings are well worth seeing at Margaret Thatcher Projects, 511 West 25th Street, May 1-31. Max Gimblett has done collaborative books with Robert Creeley and John Yau.

Amy Silliman's paintings at Brent Sikkema, 330 West 22cd Street, through May 24, Dorothy Attie at P.P.O.W., 555 West 22cd St, May 1-June 7, Lucio Pozzi at the Marvelli Gallery 526 W. 266h Street May 1-June 7 and Louise Fishman, Cheim and Read, 547 W. 25th St, through May 24th, all should be seen, if you want to get that special Susan Bee boost I am talking about.

Although there wasn't complete agreement about the following artists, we visited these and you might try to include them if you are not yet exhausted (you can easily afford to skip the gym the day you go). Allen Ruppersberg at Gorney Bravin + Lee, 534 W 26th St, through May 31, which is a homage to Allen Ginsberg's "Wichita Sutra"; Francesco Clemente at Gagosian, 555 West 24th St, May 10-June 21; Ursula von Rydingsvard at Galerie Lelong, 528 W 28th St, May 8-June14 (loved these, that include a huge wooden cabinet which opens and closes on its own creakingly; this show is reminiscent of the Andy Goldworthy shown here last month -Toni and I also saw the Goldsworthy movie at the Film Forum, and, like so many others have become real fans) and Larry Clark at the Lurhring Augustine Gallery, 531 West 24th St, through June 28.

My recent preoccupation with Kafka, which may have been kicked off by a fine show about him at the Jewish Museum not long ago, perhaps explains why I loved Catherine Chalmers' show at the Rare Gallery, 521 West 26 St, May 8-June 7. The show is titled "American Cockroach" and at least one painting, the one on the postcard you can take home, shows the little critters literally in a larger than life pose, looking as graceful as gazelles, in front of their blurry shadows.

Well, my feet were tired but my spirits were soaring as Susan headed home and Toni and I headed down to Mogodor on East 8th Street for some wonderful lamb couscous, after which I headed over to St Mark's bookstore and bought *All Poets Welcome:The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 60's* by Daniel Kane (U Calif Press, 2003) which was recommended to us by Bernadette Mayer- later, we looked at it we realized she had mentioned yours truly as being part of her workshop in early 70's in the chapter on "Bernadette Mayer and 'Language' in the Poetry Project"; *Push The Mule* by John Godfrey (The Figures, 2001)-we had spent a half an hour chatting with John on 8th St on the way to Mogodor, and learned some things about his family history that we didn't know before, including the fact that his father was an Epicopal priest; *From the Warring Factions* by Ammiel Alcalay (Beyond Baroque, 2003), a gorgeous little book that I received a review of by Joe Safdie, that I may soon post if he gives me permission and Jack Kerouak's *Book of Haikus* (Penguin, 2003) another irrisistible small but very packed book.

Thanks, again Susan Bee for the fabulous gallery tour. I think I'm about ready to face those collages again! I might even unpack that new video camera...though Toni's volunteered to read the book and learn to work this thing... Why am I so technologically challenged? Keep meaning, in that regard, to reread the 60's classic on this topic *Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.*