Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bushwick Galleries Update

By Charles Kessler

Bushwick Art Galleries, Restaurants and Bars
This map, and detailed information to go with it, can be downloaded HERE and on the right sidebar.
Not one Bushwick gallery closed since my last update, two changed their names (Bogart Salon became ArtHelix, and Weeknights became Associated), and five new galleries opened — making an amazing total of forty-three galleries now. Here is a brief description of each of the new Bushwick galleries:

2 St. Nicholas Ave., #25 (at Jefferson), Brooklyn, NY 11237
(917) 623-8374 or (917) 805-7710 (Sometimes you need to call to be let in.)
Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 6 pm, and by appointment.
Auxiliary Projects installation view of Michelle Forsyth's  Letters to Kevin (courtesy of Auxiliary Projects via
Auxiliary Projects is a very small space run by two smart and talented artists, Jennifer Dalton & Jennifer McCoy. The gallery has a unique and admirable focus. They only do solo shows of artists that have been working for a long time but who are under-represented. And they are committed to showing some work in every exhibition that sells for under $300. They say that they want to “facilitate the production and distribution of art that can be owned by the non-wealthy, a kind of entry point into the art world.”

17-17 Troutman #258, Queens, NY 11385 (The numbers on Troutman change in Queens, the gallery isn’t as far away as the address suggests.)
(347) 460-7360 
Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 6 pm, and by appointment.
Harbor is another of Bushwick’s many artist-run galleries dedicated to exhibiting and supporting emerging artists. They are in the same building with three other galleries: Regina Rex, Parallel and Bull and Ram. 

92 St. Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn NY 11237 
(718) 578-3281
Hours: Friday, 1 — 5 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 6 pm, and by appointment.
Email Mary Judge at:
View of the storefront of Schema Projects
Scheme is dedicated exclusively to all forms of work on paper — the first gallery in Bushwick to do so. They share a storefront space with Blonde Art Books.

TSA (Tiger Strikes Asteroid)
44 Stewart Ave, #49, Brooklyn NY 11237 (above Flushing, near Wyckoff)
Phone: (347) 746-8041
Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 6 pm, and by appointment.
Artist members of TSA
TSA has ten members, all artists, and is related to Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Philadelphia. Their focus is on emerging artists.

1109 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221 
Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 6 pm, and by appointment.
They don’t have a phone number or email address listed — but they have a good Tumblr blog.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chelsea from 21st Street through 25th Street

By Charles Kessler

Maybe it’s to take advantage of all the collectors who came into New York for the art fairs, but there’s an exceptional amount of good shows to be seen in these five blocks. Foremost among them is
Helen Frankenthaler from 1950 - 1959, Gagosian Gallery, 522 West 21st Street (until April 13th).
Helen Frankenthaler, Untitled, 1951, oil on canvas, 56 ⅓ x 84 ½ inches.
This is the first time the work of this period has been shown as a group since my co-blogger and mentor Carl Belz’s 1981 exhibition at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis. (Belz’s catalog essay for that exhibition has been reprinted in the catalog for this exhibition.) The show is a revelation and should establish once and for all that Frankenthaler, despite being a generation younger, belongs along side Pollock, De Kooning, Still and the other great first-generation Abstract Expressionists of the 1950’s.

Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, Luhring Augustine (until March 23rd).
Installation view, Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, Luhring Augustine Gallery.
This 64-minute installation is composed of nine large videos of friends of the artist singing The Visitors, an old ABBA song. Each of Kjartansson's friends is shown on a separate screen, alone in one of the rooms of a beautiful old Hudson Valley farmhouse, each equipped to hear the others. At first they are setting up equipment or just waiting, but eventually one or two at a time start to sing or play an instrument. As they do so, people in the gallery walk around to watch the screens.

Eventually all of the friends sing and play both by themselves and improvising with the others. Toward the end, one screen after another goes dark, until the audience, gathering around the last screen, watches as all the friends leave the farmhouse singing together as they go for a frolicsome walk on a long field, their singing fading out as they walk farther and farther away. The work is sweet and surprisingly touching, perhaps made more so by the association of us as an audience/group with the group of friends in the video.
Installation view, Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, Luhring Augustine Gallery.
This show was packed when I went, even though Chelsea was pretty empty, so I guess word got out.
Update: Ben Davis has a good review here.

Andrea Rosen, Gallery 2, 544 West 24th Street (until March 23rd).
Like many of the big galleries in Chelsea, Andrea Rosen has expanded, opening a small but beautifully lit and proportioned space across the street from the main gallery. The show, what they’re calling a “shared installation,” is kind of lame though. Basically Olivier Mosset got approval from Lawrence Weiner and Jacob Kassay to hang a work by each on a wall Mosset painted yellow. Nice space though.

Two Feature Inc. artists are showing on 25th Street with other galleries: B. Wurtz at Metro Pictures (opens March 21st until April 27th) and Andrew Masullo at Mary Boone (until April 27th). Masullo looked better in the more intimate and less formal Feature Inc. space in the Lower East Side; the work gets lost in this vast space, and ganging them together makes no difference.
Installation view, Andrew Masullo at Mary Boone Gallery.
When are collectors going to wise up and buy the art of Feature Inc. gallery artists before they leave for Chelsea?

Al Held: Alphabet Paintings, Cheim & Read, 547 West 25th Street (until April 20th).
Installation view, Al Held, Alphabet Paintings, 1961–67, Cheim & Read Gallery.
I have a theory that, big as these paintings are, they’re felt to be even bigger because of their association with letters. I mean, that’s really big for a “D.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat at Gagosian, 555 West 24th Street (until April 6th).
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981, acrylic, oil stick and pencil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches
(© The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ADAGP, Paris, ARS, New York 2013).
Gagosian’s huge space is filled with this work, most of it quite large. (I would have shown an installation view, but Gagosian doesn't allow photography, and their website has become stingy about providing images.) The work is bursting with ideas and energy, but at the same time it started to look all the same. Weird.

Thomas Nozkowski, Recent Work, PACE,  508 West 25th Street (until March 23rd). I'm happy to report that the PACE website has vastly improved.
Installation view, Thomas Nozkowski, Recent Work, PACE Gallery.
I’ve written before about Nozkowski’s work — here most recently. Typically, my initial reaction to one of his shows is the opposite of what I had with the Basquiat exhibition. Because the paintings are all the same size, and they’re usually regularly lined up like soldiers (I wish he’d stop installing them like that), the work seems all alike. But I always end up being blown away by how much is going on — how many quirky surprises and beautiful riffs there are.
Thomas Nozkowski, untitled (9-9), 2012, oil on canvas on panel, 22 x 28 inches. 
Note, for example, how a vertical rectangle is formed on the right side of this painting (above) by cutting off the circles and by making the green slightly lighter; then look how the rectangle continues down turning blue and dissolving into the darker blue shape (which itself has some of the adjacent pink showing through, as if the pink continues under it). Here's a close-up detail:
Riffs and tricks in themselves mean nothing, of course, but Nozkowski uses them to set up delightful, intimate, self-contained worlds that are a joy to behold.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Once More With Helen

Helen Frankenthaler, Mountains and Seas, 1952, oil on canvas, 86 ⅝ x 117 ¼ inches (on loan to the National Gallery of Art, Washington).
By Carl Belz

(Writer’s note: The exhibition of Helen Frankenthaler paintings from the 1950s currently at the Gagosian Gallery on 21st Street naturally triggered memories of the Frankenthaler exhibition I did at the Rose Art Museum in 1981. I described the curatorial development of that exhibition in one of my Curatorial Flashbacks here on Left Bank a couple of years ago. What follows now is a brief description of my experience installing the exhibition, which turned out, not altogether surprisingly, to be a memorable collaboration with the artist herself. It was written in 1986 for a show celebrating the 10th anniversary of the museum’s patrons and friends program, which sponsored an annual major exhibition and included “Frankenthaler: The 1950s.” I have edited it slightly for the occasion.)
Helen Frankenthaler,  Jacob's Ladder, 1957, oil on canvas, 113 ⅜ x 69 ⅞ inches (MoMA, Gift of Hyman N. Glickstein. © 2013 Helen Frankenthaler / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York).
Helen Frankenthaler was a perfectionist. Her concern extended to every mark on every picture she made and to every detail of every significant project she engaged in relation to her work. Nathan Kolodner, a former student at Brandeis who became director of the Andre Emmerich Gallery, told me as much when we first discussed an exhibition of her 1950s work in the spring of 1980, and I learned it firsthand during the various stages that led to the completion of the show a year later. For me the culminating experience in the process was the installation of the 48 paintings and works on paper that comprised the exhibition, a selection of images that I had discussed at length with the artist, that I had visited in public and private collections throughout the northeast, and that I had come to feel I knew as well as the painter who made them. Armed with confidence, I spent a week arranging the pictures in advance of Helen’s arrival preceding the Saturday evening preview of the exhibition, though I didn’t actually hang them, for I anticipated she might suggest a few changes.

Helen Frankenthaler, Eden, 1956, (Photo: Robert McKeever/© 2013 Estate of Helen Frankenthaler/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York). 
We walked through the show together, Helen looking quietly at the pictures, remembering them, for in many cases she had not seen them in the flesh since they left her hand more than 20 years earlier. Certainly she had not seen them assembled as she was seeing them at that moment, and I began to realize that what I assumed was a triumph--the full spectrum of her first decade of achievement--was also her vulnerability, a laying bare of her initial urge in the direction of genuinely ambitious painting. She admitted as much, acknowledging the nervousness she had felt on her way to the museum, but she also said she was deeply satisfied with how everything looked, and she congratulated me for my knowledge of, and sensitivity to, the work, asking in conclusion if I would mind if we rearranged a few pictures.
Helen Frankenthaler, Mother Goose Melody, 1959, oil on canvas, 81 ¾ x 103 ½ inches (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis). 
During the next three hours we moved every picture at least once, many of them several times, and a show gradually emerged that I had not seen before. While I had tried to indicate subtly the work’s chronological development, Helen pretty much discarded that textbook approach. Treating the entire museum space like a stretch of raw canvas and each image like a gesture to be expressed within it, she created an environmental painting right there on the spot. And a wondrous painting it was, allowing each part to stand on its own but at the same time generating among those parts an internal rhythm that revealed each more fully. I received a lot of credit for that installation. That I could not accept it was fully compensated for by what I had learned in watching it happen.

Carl Belz is Director Emeritus of the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University.