Distribution Automatique

Monday, May 16

Art and Friends On A Serendipitous Sunday

Naps and strolls in Prospect Park on that lovely sunny Saturday (remember?)
prepared us well for the rigors of an art-filled Sunday in Queens. If you haven't
been out there lately, you must go soon! We began the day with a visit to our friend
Jean's gorgeous new studio-
Saturday was open studio day in this sunny,
beautifully designed collection of studios
at Jevenal Reis Studios- 43-01 22cd Street
(E or V train to 23rd St./Ely Ave.
#7 to 45th Road/Courthouse Square
G to Court Square)
(you take the same train to get to MOMA's PS 1
but after leaving the subway walk the opposite
direction to get to Jeval Reis Studios)-
walk north on 23rd Street (under the train
tracks) make a left on 44th Avenue
and right on 22 Street

Jean Foos

Images {click here}

In addition to work similar to the work you may view by clicking above,
Jean Foos has some exciting new work that includes printed fashion photos
which she has appropriated and painted over in her signature style.
You must see these witty and elegant works;
I hope she posts them on her site soon. Even better, we would love
to see them in a gallery & we wouldn't be at all suprised if a clever
curator saw this show and scooped them up!

From there we walked over to an opening at the Sculpture Center
for the grand opening of the Sculpture Center's new show
*Make It Now* a title with some double-edged meanings I thought
about a bit as we walked through this relatively recent site for new sculpture.
28 artists are shown here. The first floor is well worth the visit, even if only to
see the space if you haven't been here before. I should have been prepared
for the many synchroncities tha occurred on this Queens visit when I
realized that my favorite work in this show was by Charlie Foos!
This was a video he titled "Monument with Anthem". Probably it is the artist
who is sitting on a coin operated rocking horse in front of fairly delapidated
storefront. He is holding what is very likely a plastic or cardboard shield and
lance; an ancient cassette player sits on a pedestal playing Wagner's Sigfried Idyll
over and over- the tape skips and slows and speeds; the artist stares somewhat
glumly into the camera, while again and again he puts coins into the box so
that he can keep that wooden horse rocking. This work attraced me because
in addition to participating in the current plethora of works of art reflecting
and celebrating childhood (contemporary artists seemed determine to keep
their connection with their imaginations clear by holding on securely to those
fleeting freedoms -of thought and dream-of early life) this artist found a way
to gently laugh at himself and this trend towards cheap and simple materials,
toys and structures based on childhood pleasures. As I walked through the
show I marvelled at the almost total triumph of the artistic credos of such
contemporary giants as Richard Tuttle- whose philosophy of using inexpensive
materials in spontaneous and direct ways seems to now be pervasive among
younger artists- easily eclipsing the sculptural requirements of other ages demanding
such materials as marble, bronze and gleaming metals. The only exception to
this rule I have noted is in works like those of Timothy Hawkinson which require
extensive construction and use of electronic or electric machinery and gadgetry;
still, often in the case even of this work, artists like Charlie Foos stick to found
or discarded gadgets.

As we left the Sculpture Center lucky for us we ran into our friends, the poet
and art critic Connie Robins and her husband the sculptor Sal Romano.
Sal is known for his large sculptural installations employing metal constructions
and water. Recently at a visit to his studio I marvelled at a -for him- tiny work
which combined figurative and abstract elements, including a fish and triangles.
Sal and Connie decided to join us for a bit on our second visit to the giant
Greater New York 2005 show discussed below. On the way in we noticed that
a number of artists were carrying out large frames containing obviously recently ripped
paper with calligraphic type designs. As we entered the museum we ran into our
friend Jay Sanders, one of the curatorial assistants at the Maryann Boesky Gallery.
He and I chatted a bit about the current Sarah Sze show at Boesky (see sidebar)
and the fact that these ripped frames were used by a dance friend of his for a
performance that was ending at the very moment we walked in! Jay helped
Charles Bernstein curate the Poetry Plastique show we had the good fortune
to be part of in February 2001.

On this vist I remembered a number of works I saw the first time around and
really enjoyed. Sal also pointed out a couple that I had missed! Among these
was a hilarious peformance installation by Jamie Isenstein. Sal called me
over to an inset frame hung on the wall with what appeared to be a
plastic or molded hand inside. Sal said "Wait and watch." After a few moments
the hand moved! Then after awhile it moved again! We all discussed whether it
was real and hesitated awhile and then touched it. Surely this was the living hand
of a woman- obviously the artist. Hurrying over to the wall label I noticed it said
"2003 Performance Installation with picture frame, picture light and hand- or "Will Return"
sign." Ha-ha! What a piece. When we visited the neighboring room we saw the door
where the artist could be let in to sit. Sal wondered what she might be doing
in there- watching videos- drinking a coke- who knows? In another room Sal pointed
out a piece I had walked right by last week without noticing and walked right by
again on Sunday. Karyn Oliver has installed a false vertical column right next to
a real horizontal column on the ceiling of this gallery room. The column sits on top
of an antique brown wooden coffee table right in the center of the room. More
artistic hijinx and hilarity- excellent! Another double-take type work that I noticed
on the first visit but forgot take notes on is Courtney Smith's marvelous "Psyche
Complexo" (2003) owned by the artist and Roebling Hall. This impressive work
lists the following constituants: I wardrobe, 1 vanity with mirror, 1 stool with cushion,
2 side tables with mirrors, and new chrome plated hardware. In this piece, the furniture
is split in two and rehinged together creating a mysterious and claustrophobic effect,
indeed capable of well representing complex psychological states,
redolant with associations and "remembrance of things past." Another visit to
Aida Rulova's DVD projection with sound installation "It had no feelings" (2003)
convinced both Toni and I that this was among the best works. The altered voice
track repeats a story of what must have been a psychological trauma, repeated
again and again- the visual part shows faces hidden in light and the repeated
phrase "a bag over my head" suggests a terrifying experience. This is a must see and
hear! A return visit to Anna Conway's startling painting discussed and linked to
below revealed two tiny rowboats near the huge puppet head floating in the ocean.
We liked the painting on this visit even more. The DVD concerning the violinist mentioned
below was by King/Diaz de Leon and was filmed in digital video 2003-2004. We watched
the entire approximately 8 minute piece through in its entirety again! Two more
paintings definitely worth checking out:
Wade Guyton's {click here}
"untitled" 2005- a striking
constructivist style painting -inkjet on printed linen 39'x 37" and Lisi Raskin's "In
The Town Where I Was Born" (2004- Guild and Grayshkul Gallery)- a room full
of computer and electronic gadgetry is depicted mostly in bright yellows using
crayons and colored markers, another of the many memorable works
in this show echoing and recalling childhood. Another of the many excellent
projected DVD's in this show that must be mentioned is Nebojsa Seric Shoba's
eerie "Let There Be Light" depicting computer animations looking very much like
the creation of the world via mud slides. On the second floor don't forget to see
and listen to David Moreno's subtle 2004 electronic music in his work "Steremo*. The
piece is beautifully placed in front of a window with view of the sky and an old
adjacent brick building. The speakers, mounted on bending metal supports,
wave and bob as the music emerges giving the impression that you can physically
see the sounds. This is a theme in a good number of the pieces in this
show- various types of synesthesia. Throughout this show there are many pieces
placed so that you might discover them in surprising ways in this enormous
space with so many windows, corners, and stairways. Bethany Bristow's
aptly named "Insinutate" i(2005) is constructed of multiple site specific materials
including melted glass, feathers and corn syrup is placed inconspicuously on
a gallery window ledge in a hallway on the second floor. And, as we were leaving
the show I noticed again and remembered being stuck by on the first visit,
outside the gallery on a large ledge in front of a window, Bozidar Brazda's surprising
and frightening piece made out of a dummy lying down on the ledge and a parachute
lying nearby, blowing open and closing probably by means of a wind machine placed
nearby- this work suggested to me the breathless excitements- and severe risks-
of the artist who must jump into the unknown to achieve his or her discoveries-
and who, like all of us, must someday return to the ground beneath their feet after
their extravagant flights into the stratosphere of the imagination.

After this we headed downtown to our favorite restaurant the Orlin Cafe
on East 8th Street. And who walks by after a bit? Two poet friends, Mike
Scharf and Drew Gardner, We talked about the show (Drew decided
he did not want to read these notes before seeing ths show). We had
a chance to chat with Drew about movies, his workshop at the
Poetry Project and the fact that he is now working on putting together a CD
(hopefully to be heard soon on My Vocabulary) of my reading at the BPC with
Lee Anne Brown and Ange Mlinko and Drew's Poetics Orchestra. This
was indeed a serendipitous ending to our Sunday of Art- serendipity
which extended to quickly catching the Q home to Park Slope so
we could grab a quick bite and as quickly crash
into bed exhausted. Strangely, I dreamt
of a strikingly actual Paul Auster giving me advice about publishers!