Friday, October 4, 2013

Art Roundup – The Lower East Side

By Charles Kessler

Three of my favorite LES galleries moved to new spaces this month, and they all have shows worth tracking down.

Invisible Exports, 89 Eldridge Street just south of Grand Street, Cary Leibowitz (until October 13th). 
This space isn't as convenient as their old one which was in the Orchard Street gallery row, although there are still plenty of galleries within a block or two. The new space is somewhat bigger and wider, but it's still too small for me to get a good photograph – at least with my iphone.
Cary Leibowitz, So Funny/It Just Occurred To Me/I Haven't Thought About Suicide In Weeks, 2013, Latex on wood panel, 48.25 x 29 inches.
In the early 1990s, Leibowitz went by the moniker "Candy Ass," and he still uses the saccharine colors of those days – in this show, not only are his canvases bubble-gum pink, but so are the walls of the gallery. For more about Leibowitz's art, see a well-written essay by co-owner Risa Needleman here.

On Stellar Rays, 1 Rivington Street (second floor) just east of Bowery, John Houck (until October 27th).
Installation view of John Houck photographs at On Stellar Rays gallery (until October 27th).
On Stellar Rays (check the gallery website for the origin of their strange name) moved to the second-floor space that used to be the Sue Scott Gallery. It's lighter and bigger than their Orchard Street one, and it's closer to all the galleries clustered around the New Museum.
John Houck, Left: Baby Shoes, Never Worn, 2013, archival pigment print, 27-3/4 by 20-3/4 inches; Right: Pointing Device, 2013, archival pigment print, 46-1/2 by 33-1/2 inches.
John Houck makes photos of colored papers and objects, then folds and collages the photos, and re-photographs them. He goes through this process of folding and collaging photos and re-photographing them multiple times. The end result looks like a Photorealistic painting. I guess you could say art has come full circle, and Houck is making photorealistic photographs. But unlike most Photorealism (and most photography for that matter), Houck's photos have the quiet orderliness of a Morandi and the sensual warmth and glowing color of a Sargent watercolor.

Canada, 333 Broome Street between Chrystie and Bowery, Joanna Milinowska (until October 20th).
It took about a year to renovate their new space, including four months just to get plans from their structural engineer. And I can understand why. They made major structural changes to an old building in a part of New York where it's not uncommon for buildings to fall down. The main space is in the back and it's relatively big and high for a LES gallery; and there's another, smaller space in the front, so there's some flexibility.
Installation view, Joanna Malinowska's A Hawk from a Handsaw, CANADA Gallery. 

But I must confess I'm disappointed; I'm not sure why in particular.There's something oddly ungainly about the space. Maybe it's too high, I don't know. Whatever it is, it's made worse by having the office overlook the gallery, like a guard station. And even though one of the four owners came down to greet us, and couldn't have been nicer (as they always are), it now feels more like an unapproachable Chelsea gallery than a typically congenial LES gallery. I'm NOT saying the gallery isn't congenial anymore – I just think the new architecture doesn't feel that way. Maybe that will change as they get used to the space and make it their own.

In other LES news, Marlborough, a quintessential uptown gallery, opened a branch in the same building as CANADA: Marlborough Broome Street, 331 Broome Street. Unlike other big-time galleries that opened in the LES (Sperone Westwater and Lehnmann Maupin for example), Marlborough's space is more typical of the LES in size and informality.
Installation view, Pizza Time, Marlborough Broome Street Gallery.
And their inaugural show, Pizza Time (until October 6th), is funny, funky, clever and well-researched. Who knew so many artists did work about pizza! Here's the list: Cory Arcangel & Michael Frumin, Catharine Ahearn, Uri Aran, Darren Bader, John Baldessari, Will Boone, Chris Bradley, Willem de Kooning, Michelle Devereux, Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe, Samara Golden, Oto Gillen, Drew Heitzler, Martin Kippenberger, Andrew Kuo, Nate Lowman, Tony Matelli, Claes Oldenburg, John Riepenhoff, Reena Spaulings, Spencer Sweeney, and Mateo Tannatt.

Finally, Steven Harvey, 208 Forsyth Street, has a one of the best shows in the LES as far as I'm concerned: Katherine Bradford: Small Ships. 
Panoramic installation view of Katherine Bradford's "Small Ships" at Steven Harvey Gallery (until October 13th).
In spite of the primitive look of the work, Bradford is a skilled, veteran artist who knows her way around color, texture and drawing. The primitive feel adds to the immediacy and tactility of the work. For more on Bradford, see fellow blogger Kyle Gallup's post on Bradford's show at Ed Thorp last year. This exhibition closes October 13th – try not to miss it.

Here's a walking tour that will take you by all the galleries mentioned here plus many more along the route – especially on Orchard Street. It's about 1½ miles.

A.  New Museum of Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery (at Prince).

B.  Steven Harvey Fine Arts, 208 Forsyth St. (near Houston St.).

C.  Houston St. and Orchard St.

D.  Canal St. and Orchard St.

E.  Invisible Exports, 89 Eldridge St. (near Grand St.).

F.  Canada & Marlborough Galleries, 333 Broome St. (between Chrystie and Bowery).

G.  On Stellar Rays, 1 Rivington St. (and Bowery).

Footnote: Another good gallery, Bureau, will be opening in a new space at 178 Norfolk Street (just below Houston) on October 6th.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Charles, I like your 'photorealistic photo's' and description of John Houck's work. The photographs have stayed with me--but I agree that Kathy Bradford's show took the day.

About Canada--the scale of the sculptures and that they did not seem to relate to each other in a clear way was problematic for me. I think that's one of the reasons the space felt a bit strange.

BTW I went to the show at Peter Freeman Gallery this past week. Loved James Castle's work but didn't really relate to the David Adamo's(termite mounds in the other gallery) work here either. Went to the review panel with Roberta Smith last night which included discussion on this show--was interesting and worth listening to at