Saturday, March 21, 2009
Unlike Chelsea, the LES is an interesting, quirky, historic neighborhood where even just walking around is a great way to spend a day. Also, unlike Chelsea, the dealers are usually friendly and more open to talking about the work. Most important, the LES galleries are exhibiting some of the most vital art in the city.
In order to be inclusive, I have considerably expanded the traditional boundaries of the Lower East Side. As a result, it became necessary to break the area into clusters because it's really too much to reasonably cover all at once. Maps are difficult to follow and not the most efficient way to cover a lot of sites, but I provided them here to help you get your bearings.
Most galleries are open Wednesday - Saturday, 12 - 6, and many are also open Sundays; but if you're schlepping down to see a particular show it's a good idea to call first to confirm. Links to the gallery websites are provided here, and ArtCat is a great source of current listings and reviews.
Galleries are still popping up like mushrooms (and closing just as fast). I've tried my best to be inclusive and current, but I'm sure I've made plenty of mistakes. Please post comments about changes you think necessary, and I'll try to update this guide on a regular basis.
Beginning just south of the southwest corner of Houston and Bowery:
A. Feature Inc, 276 Bowery
Continue south on Bowery:
B. BLT Gallery, 270 Bowery - 2nd floor
Continue on Bowery to Prince and cross to the other side of Bowery to:
C. The New Museum, 235 Bowery (at Prince)
Continue south on Bowery, past Rivington to:
D. DCKT Contemporary (ground floor)
Janos Gat Gallery (3rd floor - ring bell to enter),
Across Bowery on Spring about a half a block in on the left is:
E. Jen Bekman Gallery, 6 Spring St
Go back across Bowery toward the New Museum, but turn right on Rivington:
F. Sue Scott Gallery, 1 Rivington St (2nd floor - ring bell)
Continue east on Rivington St:
G. Thierry Goldberg Gallery, 5 Rivington St
Continue east on Rivington St:
H. Eleven Rivington Gallery, 11 Rivington St
Cross Rivington St and walk into the historic Freeman Alley:
I. Salon 94, 1 Freeman Alley
Return to Rivington Street and continue walking a little ways east. Turn left at Chrystie St to:
K. Lehman Maupin Gallery, 201 Chrystie St
From here it's an easy walk to the galleries East of Chrystie.
A. Half Gallery, 208 Forsyth St
Continue south on Forsyth one block and turn left on Stanton to 53 Stanton St:
B. Luxe Gallery, http://www.luxegallery.net/
Scaramouche Gallery c/o Fruit & Flower Deli, http://www.scaramoucheart.com/
Smith-Stewart Gallery, http://www.smith-stewart.com/main.html
C. Fusion Arts, 57 Stanton St
Continue on Stanton to the end of the block, turn right on Eldridge and right again on Rivington:
D. Kumukumu Gallery, 42 Rivington St
Reverse direction and take your first right on Eldridge to:
E. Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, 163 Eldridge St (down a few steps)
Go back on Eldridge to Rivington, turn right, cross Allen Street and take the next right on Orchard
F. On Stella Rays Gallery, 133 Orchard St
Reverse direction and go back to Rivington and go right on Rivington to:
G. Museum 52, 95 Rivington St (They may be closed)
Continue on Rivington and turn right on Essex, it’s a short distance in
H. Cuchifritos Gallery, 128 Essex St (in Essex Market)
Go back to Rivington and continue walking to:
I. Gallery 128 and Sloan Gallery, 128 Rivington St
Continue east on Rivington St about a block and a half
J. ABC No Rio, 156 Rivington St
Reverse direction on Rivington St and turn right at Suffolk St; turn right again in one block to Stanton St
K. NY Studio Gallery, 154 Stanton St
A little further east on Stanton St
L. Gallery Satori, 164 Stanton St
Continue a little bit on Stanton St; turn left at Clinton St
M. Collette Blanchard, 26 Clinton St
Continue on Clinton St
N. Greene Contemporary, 9 Clinton St (Up a few outside stairs)
Continue north on Clinton St; turn left at E Houston St
O. Participant Gallery, 253 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
It's easy to continue from here to the galleries above Houston.
B. Heist Gallery, 27 Essex St
Continue north on Essex St:
C. Number 35 Gallery, 39 Essex St
Continue north on Essex St:
D. e-flux, 41 Essex St (Next exhibition opens April 8th).
My friends wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t include two great food places.
Continue on Essex to the end of the block to Grand Street and go right to:
Kossar’s, 367 Grand Street for great bialys
Donut Plant, 379 Grand Street for the best donuts you’ll ever eat.
Reverse direction on Essex St cross Canal St. and continue left on Canal to E Broadway:
E. La Viola Bank Gallery, 179 E Broadway
Continue on E. Broadway to:
F. Ernest Rubenstein Gallery at The Educational Alliance, 197 E. Broadway (You will need to sign in and show ID)
Go back west on E Broadway to Rutgers (Essex Street) and turn left. It's about 1/2 block in on Rutgers, the gallery is not marked -- look for a red awning. Ring the second floor bell. The door to the gallery on the second floor is also unmarked.
F. Reena Spaulings (Don’t be confused by the official 165 E. Broadway address)
Continue on Rutgers St a few feet, turn right at Henry St:
G. Dispatch Gallery, 127 Henry St
Go back to Rutgers (Essex) and turn left, walk a couple of blocks, cross Canal and turn left on Canal, walk two blocks and turn right on Orchard St:
H. Invisible-Exports Gallery, 14 Orchard St
Continue north on Orchard St:
I. Lisa Cooley Gallery, 34 Orchard St
Continue north on Orchard St:
J. Miguel Abreu Gallery, 36 Orchard St
Continue north on the other side of Orchard St:
K. Michali Fine Art, 45 Orchard St
L. Rachel Uffner Gallery, 47 Orchard St
Continue a couple of blocks on the other Orchard St:
M. Bridge Gallery, 98 Orchard St
Reverse direction on Orchard St., cross Broome and it's just to the right:
N. Small A Projects, 261 Broome St
Continue on Broome St past Allen St; turn right at Eldridge St:
O. Woodward Gallery, 133 Eldridge St
A little further on Eldridge:
P. LMAK Projects, 139 Eldridge St (opens April 4th)
Go back to Broome on Eldridge:
Q. Simon Preston Gallery, 301 Broome St
Continue west on Broome St, cross Roosevelt Park and turn right on Christie St:
R. envoy enterprises, 131 Chrystie St
Reverse direction on Chrystie St and turn right at Broome St:
S. White Box Gallery and Anonymous Gallery, 329 Broome St
Continue on Broome St past Bowery, turn left at Elizabeth St:
T. Christopher Henry Gallery, 127 Elizabeth St
Somewhat out of the way but definitely worth it:
continue south on Elizabeth, turn left at Grand St and turn right at Chrystie St. Walk one and a half blocks south on Chrystie. The building looks like an office building or residence, and you need to walk down a long corridor to the back.
U. Canada Gallery, 55 Chrystie St
Beginning on 1st Street just east of 2nd ave.
A. Audio Visual Arts (AVA), 34 E 1st St,, (917) 604-8856
Continue west on First Street, cross Bowery, go right and a quick left to Bleecker Street, walk two blocks to:
B. Zurcher Studio, 33 Bleecker St,
Continue walking west on Bleecker one more block and turn right on Lafayette and turn right again on Bond Street to:
C. Bond Gallery, 33 Bond St, (212) 228-0901
Go back to Lafayette and continue up one block to Great Jones Street, turn right to:
D. Aicon Gallery, 35 Great Jones St,
Friday, March 20, 2009
A dash more color downtown--the mural is complete! Now let's just hope no one tags it... For more info about this and future projects in the works check out my soon-to-be-released (this weekend?) article on the Jersey City Independent website.
So what's this "Independent" you ask? It's the newest addition to Jersey City news media, covering local issues with a critical eye and giving art affairs the attention they deserve. Check it out, especially if you're sick of the Journal's omnipresent shrieking three-inch tabloid font.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I bought a one week timeshare in Lisa Kirk's maison des cartes (House of Cards) at Invisible-Exports, 14 A Orchard Street until March 29th. It's not one of those rip-off, trendy time-shares in the Caribbean -- it's even worse. It's a broken down shanty built with found materials that, after the show, will be transferred to the Brooklyn Navy Yard (what they're calling "an exclusive gated community").
The gallery has been transformed into a real estate sales office complete with a high-pressure sales staff who perform, if that's the word, from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (I was worked on -- or, more accurately, worked over -- by Susan London who could not have been more perfect in the role).
For the low, low price of $199.99 (which can be paid off in easy monthly payments of only $20 per month -- less than going to the movies), I get the right to use this maison des cartes for one week. In keeping with the provocative theme I chose the week of Sukkos, when observant Jews construct booths or huts that are supposed to be reminiscent of the type of huts the ancient Israelites lived during their wandering in the desert. Is there anyone not yet offended?
This is Marie Antoinette playing homeless squatter. It's radical chic at its most appalling. (For those too young to know what Radical chic is, the phrase comes from an article by Tom Wolfe, first published in June of 1970 in New York Magazine, about a party that Leonard Bernstein and his socialite friends held in his Park Avenue apartment for the radical Black Panther Party. (And if you don't know who Leonard Bernstein was fuggetaboutit). After that party the Black Panthers lost all credibility as a threat).
This is one of our culture's most effective survival mechanisms -- co-opting and hence enervating challenges or threats. And this is why artists cringe when their work is presented as cool and trendy -- it takes the guts out of it. Artists from Warhol to Koons have made this their subject matter and Lisa Kirk is pushing it even further here.
Also in the gallery is an underground (literally -- it's in the basement) installation of Kirk’s earlier work -- her fragrance Revolution. The packaging for Revolution is a bronzed pipe bomb (which can be upgraded to silver, gold or even platinum). Be sure to check out her totally perverse TV commercial promoting Revolution.
If you're in the neighborhood, stop by Hudson County Arts Supply to see the first mural of a new public arts initiative take shape. Local artist Ron English, New Jersey native (and now resident West-coaster) Bigfoot, and fellow street artist Jason Maloney are working collaboratively today and tomorrow to cover the side of the store with an original work of art.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Monuments Along The Pacific
(Incidents of Auto- Travel in Greater LA,in and around the CAA, February 2009)
I touched down in LAX around midnight. Bleary eyed, I collected myself to the SuperShuttle. Peripherally, a buckskinned and fringed model- type mounted into her boyfriend's baby Hummer. Across the street, the cool night air condensed around the Bob Hope USO club. I threw my bag into the shuttle for the ride downtown. Already at the Convention Center there, had been one and a half afternoons of papers delivered on such topics as "Rearranging Abstraction" and issues of "Historicizing the Present". The first two days of sessions at the 97th College Art Association were already history.
The telephone pole trunks of palm trees punctuated the lateral landscape of Westchester. Some of the trees appeared to be over sixty feet tall, strange chimney sweep, mop top ,and Suess- like. I mused on the effects of Global Warming and the intrigues of water wars. Al Gore and Jack Nicholson performed a pas de deux in my pop political subconcious. Downtown there were no palms, the buildings more resembled most other American city downtowns. There was the architecture of neoclassical glory and Deco in the late Teens and Twenties,evidence of a brief commerce and housing bump with World War II, then a steady decline from the late Fifties to the early nineties. As in Dallas, the site of the 96th CAA conference, much of what was downtown LA was demolished and redeveloped to feature a convention center. The varied and competitive interplay of downtown commerce has become condensed into a conceptual center, blank slate, hosting spot. A conventional center.
I de-shuttled at the Ritz Milner on Flower Street. This hotel dating back to the Twenties had retained a patina of shabby chic. Ghosts of assignation and despair, dreams in the Golden City. West's" Day of the Locust" meets Valentino's "The Shiek". A traveling Pakistani garment merchant greeted me warmly from the lounge's puffy 1980's chairs which appeared to be copies of 1930's originals. There was a grand piano in the foyer. A sense of historical continuity comforted me. There are instances when even an attempt at stylistic continuity can achieve a fleeting glamour. The hotel was cheap and almost real, two things to not take for granted in LA.
The following morning I met an artist from NJ, Margaret Murphy, for coffee and rode with her on the Dash bus to the Staples Convention Center. A mental post-it note was, at that interval, pasted on the work station in my mind. Artists and art history scholars and academics were in there "delivering papers". The desultory paper boy I was at 11 emerged from my memory together with the half -hearted copy attendants I had sometimes experienced at Staples in the past. A perfect nonlinear, illogical link became established in my mind between rhetorical content and form. I had also recently been reading Marshall McLuan's "Guttenberg Galaxy" which makes similar leaps in claims to the enervating quality of the printed word. Fore- armed against paper pedantics and academic sophistry with these realizations, I took to the Sessions with ardent, if not exactly open-minded, curiosity.
I peeked in to "Disrupting Reality: Pictorial Illusion in Early Modern Art" in a cavernous, dimly lit shoe box filled with row upon row of hotel chairs pointed to a high dais lit with enlarged images and diagrams. There is a part of me attracted to the sheerly ritualistic aspect of the sessions. Simultaneous discussions of "Altars, Relics and Ascetics" and "Diasporic Boundaries" competed for my attention, lady and the tiger -like.
I met up later with Margaret Murphy and the art historian and curator Aileen Wang. Aileen had a rented car and we resolved to see the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades the following day. The outer landscape of southern California had, since I was a child been literally representative of locations of 1970's TV cop show locations and car chases from Dragnet, to Mod Squad, to Police Woman. You can squash this together with Topanga Canyon burnout sybarites, Manson, The Beach Boys, The Buffalo Springfield, The Doors and the Byrds, Esalon, and the insistent natural disasters that remind all of this messed up ball of humanity that life is just a mudslide or wildfire away from being blasted out of the constant dream state that one finds oneself in in these climes.
We reached the Getty Villa by midday, the weather pleasingly warm for this easterner's usual February. The Villa is one of those sites visited by Umberto Ecco in his Travels in Hyperreality. Regarding the Getty Villa and other such fabrications of historical sites he says:
"For the prime aim of these wild Xanadus (as of every Xanadu) is not so much to live there, but to make posterity think how exceptional the people who did live there must have been. And, frankly, exceptional gifts would be required -- steady nerves and a great love of the past or the future -- to stay in these rooms, to make love, to have a pee, eat a hamburger, read the newspaper, button your fly. These eclectic reconstructions are governed by a great remorse for the wealth that was acquired by methods less noble than the architecture that crowns them"
Yea, Umberto. There is something overweeningly didactic about the presentation of what is a remarkable, (although of sometimes dubious provenance) collection of antiquities in such a forced, simulacra of a Pompeiin villa. I felt as if we were those tiny figures walking through a Thomas Cole painting of the Cycle of Empire. I longed to get back to the garden of the ocean that made a vee through the Eucalyptus trees.
Malibu is the name of a Chevy but also the dis-fabled coastal community that stretches about 20 miles up the coast. Images of Joan Didion in a Stingray and Joan Baez in her beach house pass by our inner eye like wraiths of the old dream of California.
"Here we beheld the Monuments of the The Bunker, The Culvert, The Mud Banks, The Pilings." Richard Neutra inspired modernist boxes perched above the rocks and the waves like neurotic and anesthetized starlets on teetering spike heels. Some conjured launching pads for suicidal swan dives into the Pacific. The end of the earth at the Pacific can be rough. It occurred to me that the newness of the West Coast is looking old. In the close foreground, a Short- Billed Dowitcher picks at a morsel on the beach. Close by , Midori Yashimoto, a curator and art historian, gets drenched by a wave.
That evening we had a Thai dinner in Culver City with Jacki Apple, an early curator of Franklin Furnace and later participant in the early Feminist art scene in LA. Nearby was the Museum of Art , Architecture and Design, and the Museum of Jurassic Technology whose website tag line is: "guided along as it were by a chain of flowers into the mysteries of life."
We never made it to the Tar Pits.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Restaurants and bars open up their spaces to artists not because they're feeling altruistic, but because special events are a great way to pack a room on an otherwise normal night. They're out to make a buck, and hey, I don't think anything's wrong with that. But what I do take issue with is the uneven display and treatment artists' work gets from venue to venue because of apparent disinterest. I could barely even see the paintings on display at Hard Grove: they were squashed across from the bar, hung over a curtain, and stuck so high up that I kept running into people trying to get a good look (I never really did). Other venues are often guilty of the same transgression, which just isn't respectful to the artists showing work in the space, nor to the people who have come to see them. It is a trade after all, and these businesses wouldn't have been advertised citywide (and in that handy JC Fridays brochure!) had they not had artwork to show.
So if you're an artist who's interested in bringing work out for JC Fridays, take some control over how your art is hung and where you can put your statement; and if you're a participating business, don't forget that without these artists and their work you wouldn't have sold all that extra booze.
Props to the Stockinette and LITM for consistent, courteous display of artworks and artist info, and to 58, Arthouse, and the JC museum (via some condos because they don't have the money to keep the museum open at night??) for representing the more artistic side of these Fridays.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Since I wrote about Picasso's poetry, I've been thinking about his Les Demoiselles* at MOMA and the radical phenomenological change in the relationship between art and viewer this painting established.
One’s relationship to traditional easel painting is like an observer looking through a window into an imaginary space -- a space comparable to the fourth wall in theater. It's an imaginary space comfortably separate from our own. In the Renaissance and Baroque, even when the depicted space continued real space (Leonardo's Last Supper for example) we know we are looking in at a different, more perfect world -- a world separate from our own. Being absorbed in that world, even if the subject matter is charged with emotion or highly dramatic, is a private and intimate experience.
Modern Art since Les Demoiselles aggressively addresses us in our own space. Art is now part of our world (btw, one of the fundamental points of Marcel Duchamp's Readymades). Significantly, early studies for Les Demoiselles show Picasso originally included a sailor and a medical student in the brothel with the prostitutes. Eliminating them meant the relationship is not among the figures inside the painting but between the painting and the viewer.
Like the fruit in the botttom of the painting, the prostitutes indifferently display their bodies, looking neither at us nor at each other, but instead stare blankly out into our space. By the action of our looking at them, we are made uncomfortable participants instead of passive and detached voyeurs.
This is a tough, nasty painting (and that's a good thing). There is not an inch that we can relax in -- it just keeps coming at you, thrusting things forward into our own space with a raw violence that is still unnerving more than 100 years later.
I know this is basic stuff, and of course this is a gross over-simplification -- the history of art is much richer and more complicated than this. And also this has nothing to do with the quality of the the art. I'm just pointing out a change in the phenomenological relationship between art and viewer that I think is vital to understanding Picasso's radical import.
* Picasso always referred to the painting as "The Brothel," but his dealer softened it to "The Young Ladies of Avignon." Typical!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
After spending the last five days session-hopping at the College Art Association conference in LA and trying to understand how this behemoth of theoretical knowledge treats the study of contemporary art, I'll be frank: academia has some major issues. This was my first CAA conference and, recently out of grad school and struggling to find my own publish-able blend of art history and journalism, I'll admit that I was floored by the thought of attending critical panels and debating with my former professors on the nature of art. I was warned by colleagues not to expect too much, but I was still almost giddy with anticipation as I made my way to the convention center and anxiously poured over the binder of session abstracts.
I came back, loaded with books, but disappointed. The College Art Association--the organization for scholars, professors, and teaching artists--had very little to say when it came to actual contemporary production. In fact, no one could even define the discipline (considered 1945-present in most colleges and 1960-present in others), let alone offer a proactive opinion on how the study of this "mystery topic" should be approached. Panelists on "Historicizing the Present..." and "What is Contemporary Art History" seemed to be more interested in talking about their own work than proposing solutions for the philosophical dilemmas involved in studying contemporary art--or answering the main question posed.
Within the canon then, contemporary art history is basically whatever the academic makes of it, and that frustrates me. I have read enough articles on Stella and 1950's pop artists to last me a long while, and have been waiting for something more, something different, something new to come out of academia. Instead of re-hashing the classics, why aren't art historians studying living artists, or taking risks writing about talented individuals who haven't been "made" yet? For me, contemporary study begins with an analysis of what's being produced now and culminates with putting this new method of working within the context of the larger discipline of art history. Analysis on current issues has to be different than those of the past, but that doesn't make it any less worthy of scholarly debate.
I wish those within academia would start taking risks, putting ideas out there that are different from the accepted (and anticipated) norms, instead of leaving the press to have its way with contemporary art while refusing to criticize fellow members of the academic club. I want to hear statements worth defending and historians really thinking about what it means to be a modern academic studying events that aren't yet--and may never be--historic.
I don't think this is revolutionary, yet creating a standard definition of contemporary art history as well as one for studies that are truly grounded in the present (they are, perhaps, two separate topics), doesn't seem to be on the horizon for the CAA: no one seems willing enough to challenge or potentially offend.
Photo: Marylin Stockstad's happy 80-something birthday cookie, given out at the conference bookfair. Cuteness from the reigning Queen of Art History 101.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
|Picasso, Study of Feet, 1943, Oil on newspaper (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)|
|Picasso, annotated poem manuscript, December 24, 1935|
In some ways this show (astoundingly, all but two of the 79 works in the show are from Yale's own collection) is a retrospective because Picasso was involved with language his entire career.
We've grown to expect breathtaking expressive range, inventiveness and mastery with Picasso retrospectives and this show is no different. There's a large, powerful 1906 drawing of a head of a woman (bought by Marcel Duchamp in 1927!) done in an archaic primitive style that led to Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. There are drawings done in the early 1930's made up entirely of 3" or 4" lines with dots on either end (where the hell did he get that idea)? They have Seated Woman, April 26, 1936, a good-sized painting with acidic colors that eerily resonate with each other. There's a series of lithographs done with his fiingerprints. And there's his large, famous First Steps, 1943, a painting of a mother sweetly guiding her baby's first steps. The whole painting seems to tilt and toddle like the baby.
My favorite work in the show is a shockingly rough, 1943 study of feet done on a full page of newspaper. I'm a great fan of Picasso's later work. I know, I know, but I love the casual, raw quality of the later work. This would be worthy of any Neo-Expressionist of the 1980's.
And then there's poetry! Most of Picasso's closest friends were poets (Stein and Apollinaire, of course, but also Max Jacob, Andre Salmon and later the Surrealist poets). He illustrated dozens of books (collaborations really), wrote two full plays and, from the mid-1930's until 1959, wrote hundreds of poems including a year, beginning in April, 1935, that he devoted himself solely to poetry. (BTW, when he resumed painting in April, 1936, he made almost a painting a day that month).
I'm not qualified to judge poetry but Andre Breton admired Picasso's poetry and he and other Surrealist poets published it and wrote about it in a special 1935 edition of Cahiers d'art. Clive Bell and the French literature scholar, Peter Read also admired and discussed the work. Here's what the publisher, poet, translator, Jerome Rothenberg had to say in A Pre-Face to Picasso:
It was in early 1935, then, that Picasso (then fifty-four years old) began to write what we will present here as his poetry - a writing that continued, sometimes as a daily offering, until the summer of 1959. In the now standard Picasso myth, the onset of the poetry is said to have coincided with a devastating marital crisis (a financially risky divorce, to be more exact), because of which his output as a painter halted for the first time in his life. Writing - as a form of poetry using, largely, the medium of prose - became his alternative outlet. The flow of words begins abruptly ("privately" his biographer PatrickO'Brian tells us) on 18 april XXXV while in retreat at Boisgeloup . (He would lose the country place the next year in a legal settlement.) The pace is rapid, violent, pushing and twisting from one image to another, not bothering with punctuation, often defying syntax, expressive of a way of writing/languaging that he had never tried before:
if I should go outside the wolves would come to eat out of my hand just as my room would seem to be outside of me my other earnings would go off around the world smashed into smithereens