Monsters and Memories: A Visit to Chelsea
In a further effort to rid Toni of a persistent headache, we headed for our monthly (or so) review of the Chelsea galleries, starting with a failed attempt to sip some take-out tea on the Chelsea piers. Francie Shaw, a recent immigrant from Philadelphia, showed us how to do this last summer, only yesterday it was far too windy and cold. But, lo and behold, with Toni's usual perfect timing, when we headed for our first stop- Mike Kelley's show at the Gagosian Gallery, we ran into Lee Ann Brown and Tony Torn, who were showing their friend Peter Culley around, who happens to have a blog I've long enjoyed, mosses from an old manse [click here]. Peter Culley told me he's heading up to U Maine soon, to be reading in Steve Evans' New Poets series. The Mike Kelley show is well worth seeing: ghostly clothes blow in the wind, revealing fondly remembered erotic fantasies, tv monitors feature phantom mystical, mythical, religious initiations, reminders abound of Holloween parties of yesteryear, the show is a feast of latent childhood anxieties and superstitions; I didn't realize how well the entire effect was working on me as I chatted with Peter about blogging (I realize I can over-enthuse about this, as any reader of this blog must know). When Peter was called away by Tony a to check out the show further, as I was searching around for Toni I got startled by my own shadow!
From there we headed for the Nancy Spero show at the Galerie Lelong (528 W. 26th Street). The show, titled Cri de Coeur [click here] is a must-see (fortunately it's open until December 3). Toni explained to me that the female figures, who I thought were praying, represented a "lamentation" or ritual morning. This piece is consistent with Spero's superb work since the 60's- political insight powerfully illuminated by means of feeling. As you enter the large room of the gallery, the collaged paintings are placed around the lower part of the wall like a fresco. As you look clockwise around the room, the paintings move from light to dark, in vibrant blues, greens and reds, getting darker and darker, possibly tracking the progression of mourning and loss- finally to a cinematic fade or blackout.
From the Lelong we headed for one of Toni's usual haunts, PaceWildenstein (534 W. 25th Street). Today is the last day for the Keith Tyson show, Geno Pheno, an interesting and diverse assembly. One piece in this show impressed and moved me greatly: *Cutting the Fungal Chord #776+1 (2005)*. This sculpture consists of a large enclosure with a figurative polyester sculpture housed within. The figure is holding up a large cracked mushoom with a cord. I regret I didn't have the time to write down some of the interesting poems embossed around the sides of this eight feet or so tall, polyhedrical enclosure. The piece was constructed with steel, medium density fiberboard, glass reinforced plyester, glass, synthetic milk and pump. There were 37 pieces in the show. Born in England in 1969, Tyson has exhibited at the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Venice Biennale and the Tate Modern.
From there we headed for Michael Feinberg Fine Art [click here] (526 West 26 Street) to see the Emilie Clark *Studies in Nature*, which also closes today. Emilie Clark's strikingly beautiful paintings in this show are based on the work of Mary Trout, a little known botanist friend of Charles Darwin's, which Emilie found out about in his correspondance. Mary Trout raised carnivorous plants as did Emilie to prepare for her painting in this show. The plants Emilie raised are also on exhibit in the gallery. Emilie photographed the plants and created the paintings from the drawings, which were also exhibited. Sorry to report on this show so late, because it was superb. We promise to get to her next one much earlier, and wouldn't miss it for the world. Emilie also carefully researched earlier classical paintings concerning carnivorous plants for this show.
On to the Paul Kasmin Gallery to see the latest Kenny Scharf show which was well worth a visit. My favorite in this show was his large *Time Flies When You're Having A Good Time* which seemed like a reference to the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. A huge car is headed for a huge clock and is painted against a star-studded cosmic background. Around the corner Scharf did a must-see installation in a small space. From floor to ceiling on all the walls you find a representation of *Scharf's Closet*. Toys, fans, radio chassis, odd pieces of discarded objects are hung merrily in disarray around the room; you are supplied with a few ancient bean bag chairs to stay as long as you like and watch the fans (as in the Mike Kelley show above) blow memories around in the wind.
Our last stop yesterday was an unexpected treat, given the understated title of the show *Looking at Words*. About 275!!! artists who have used words in their works are represented. There is an amazing number of incredible works in this absolutely must-see show, up until January 14th at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, 525 West 24th Street. Some of my favorites in the show included: Jackson Mac Low, Vito Acconci, Shusaku Arakawa, Max Ernst, Henri Chopin, John Cage, Henry Darger, Marcel Duchamp, Oyvinnd Fahlstgrom, Alfred Jensen, Ray Johnson, Jasper Johns, Anselm Kiefer, Christopher Knowles, Willem DeKooning, Barbara Kruger, d.a. levy, Robert Motherwell, Picabia, Picasso, Sigmar Polke, Liubov Popova, Richard Tuttle, Dieter Roth, Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Kurt Schwitters, Robert Smithson, Nancy Spero, Fred Tomaselli, Jess, Jacques Mahe de la Villegle, the list goes on. Almost 300 works worth seeing many times, tons of famous artists and many I had never seen before, including 5 great pieces by Marius de Zayas [click here], an amazing artist completely new to me. This show, on its own, is a short course in art history- including many of the works that presaged the growing vispo phenomenon.