Sunday, February 03, 2008

ART is NYC

In which the Hound recounts an all-to--brief, but action packed day-of-art in the city. Starting, chez Stephanie on Suffolk, and encompassing the Rivington/Stanton area of the Lower East Side, which is gentrifying faster than one's most generous ideas of gentrification might allow for. The Mars for example, entirely surrounded by luxury condos. Or, a Whole Foods on the Bowery, and a Starbuck's on Delancey! Average hotel price per night? $450.

The New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery. Makes funky old Dixon Place seem like circa 1979... On the upside, there are plenty of little art galleries springing up... Over the next week I'll talk about four: 31 Grand, Smith-Stewart, Freeze Frame, and The Fruit & Flower Deli. As well, a post on the New Museum, before heading up to Chelsea to see the big guns, the money pot, the mecca of modern art.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
31 Grand
143 Ludlow Street

This is a group show riffing on the idea of the hunter/hunted, the erotics of hunting, and the strangeness I suppose. The work certainly ran the spectrum, and while it was all engaging, it was certainly a stretch to see the connection to the theme at times. The dog in the previous post pictured under the gender challenging photo, seemed puzzled. This Hound was not. The tent in the above photo is from artist Orly Cogan, as is the tapestry below. Cogan is an artist who works with materials--love the coke-snorting lovers on the pillow case. A whole new level of embroidery--a gesture that reminds me of the amazing Canadian artist, Shary Boyle.
The tent was also smart: embroidered with many cats and dogs (raining that is...).
31 Grand used to be in Williamsburg and has recently relocated to the ever-hippening LES.

When You See Me Again It Won't Be Me
Smith Stewart
53 Stanton Street

Was a party, now the aftermath. Black matte square with torn chains and piercings, black tulle-like material hanging, scuff marks, traces of identity. On the floor a fashion magazine spread open and the faces of German artists/NYU graduates Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder with gender marked faces peering back at you. On two walls, blow-ups of those photos, tagged with studs and chains. Yes, there was a performance, humans interacting with a large abstract painting floating on what could be considered the fourth wall. "The artists wanted to be seen as an extension of the painting," one of the gallery representatives told us, "they came out and into the street. No one person was able to see the entire performance."

We saw only the aftermath of the performance and the energy was still there, scuffed and imperfect, an erotics of recent past, of gesturing toward a future now. The portraits are compelling. The idea of the performance, the phasing of the show, seems to be an aspect of the moment. People are allowing shows to build, and perhaps even to fall apart... The only part of this show that didn't work for me was the piercing of the photos themselves. I get it. I just don't think it added anything. If anything it made it less original.

You can see a short film of the performance here.

Freeze Frame
Thrust Projects
114 Bowery
It was a girl, girl, girl morning on the LES. A kind of gritty, boho, Berlin abstract kind of having fun in an aggressive way. The artists at Thrust Projects, a tiny gallery, technically in Chinatown, ranged in style and polish. There seemed to me a sense of late 80s pink in some of the work--you know that pink, that Madonna pink as opposed to the Talking Heads red and the Laurie Anderson orange?? The Hound's favorite was Carrie Moyer's Sap Green, 2007, (below courtesy of Thrust Projects).
Thinking about abstract art and how it is, or what makes it fresh. This show was billed as a group of young women who "break through" the boundaries of abstraction. Certainly the above painting does. Did they all? I'm not convinced. On the other hand I am convinced that something is happening with women and abstract art, and whatever it is I want to see it go further...much further. There was a show recently at Newzones in Calgary featuring a group of young female abstract painters too, and while on the whole it wasn't as exciting as I hoped, there is a freedom in this work, a playfulness that I want to see complicated--as Moyer does above, and as Joyce Kim does here with "Samurai Lesson." More please. More.


Fruit & Flower Deli
The oracle is in and clearly told our host Rodrigo, a Chilean/Swiss curator who arrived in NYC just over six months ago to take up residence on Stanton Street. The inaugural show was something by a group called International Festival, which had a show up for six weeks and then, as part of the ongoing show, left their mark on the ceiling of the gallery and paid the rent for the year. The show up now is by an artist named David Adamo, and consists of 8 bats in various states of being chewed, or torn apart, leaning (for the most part), upright against the walls of the small space, wood chips all around on the floor. Even before I saw the blanket thrown over a posse of arrows I was thinking of Brian Jungen's bats, but I'm not sure that is what Adamo had in mind. On the small, carpeted stage in the window a lone bow, of the violin variety, lay under a painting of a woman named, Rodrigo informed us, LuLu. All very odd? Yes, and completely genuine. A bag of bows, a twist of narrative, and deconstruction of sport, of violence, of cultural sovereignty? Any or all of the above. The next artist will be Tracy Nakiyama.

"Never open/ always welcome."
You don't need to come to Fruit and Flower Deli, unless you want to of course. You will always be welcome if you decide to come, and if you don’t you will never miss anything, or you just might miss something. Everything in Fruit and Flower Deli is constant, everything there was, was there, and still is. This is because Fruit and Flower Deli is a home, for the arts, and the love for the arts. It is a home also for me, I’m the Keeper, so I have no choice, or I do actually, I choose to stay, I chose to be chosen.
If you see Rodrigo there with his laptop, give a tap on the window. Or, if you can, suggest yourself to the oracle and maybe Rodrigo will simply look up. You never know what you'll miss...like attempts to levitate, or the weekly Sunday sermon.

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