Sunday, October 16, 2005

"All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

Pardon the cliched misquote, but it really works here. For six months I'd been anticipating Jeremy Blake's opening of a show of new work (in collaboration with another fave, David Berman) at Feigen. When I found out that it was the same day (October 7) as the Teresita Fernandez opening at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia I was dismayed to say the least. It was decision time.

I chose to go to Philly, and saying that I had no regrets would be an understatement. (That is no commentary on Blake. He's one of my favorite artists and I went to see his latest bit of wonder the day after my Philly trip. Whew. One of the best shows in town right now. Easy.). Besides getting to have lunch with my uber pal Oona, and hanging out with the rock 'n' roll queens of Fallonandrosof, I saw a lot of art that made me jump up and down without embarassment on the street. I kid you not. Roberta and Libby will bear witness to this.

Plenty of ground was covered and all of it was good. In Private Hands: 200 Years of American Painting and the Vik Muniz shows at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The aforementioned Fernandez show at the FWM. Some nice work at Vox Populi. And I wound up the day with two fiesty shows at Space 1026 and The Black Floor Gallery.

OK. Right here I have to admit to being a little wiped out from all the 12 hour days at work lately, so I'm going to take it easy on myself in regards to the text. I'll make up for it with a bunch of pics.

First up was the Vik Muniz at PAFA. I loved this show. I would have made the trip to see this show. It's that good. Here are the pics.

The In Private Hands: 200 Years of American Painting show is good. Spotty, but good. Some of the paintings are so good that they make up for any of the lesser paintings. Here's a litany of the goodness in no particular order: Bierstadt, Cole, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Pollock, Basquiat, Salle, Fischl, O'Keefe, Cassatt, Sargeant, Bierstad, de Kooning, Guston.

OK. A few faves. The Bierstadt is one of the first knockouts. One of Warhol's Sixteen Jackies predictably crushes. The Jackie series is special to me. At the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh it was this series of Jackies that really kicked off my love of art. I always feel nothing but pity for people like Tom Wolfe when I see a Warhol that's this good. And then there was the Basquiat. Well. Forget about it. Paintings that make cry me tell me all I need to know about them.

Teresita Fernández's opening at the Fabric Workshop and Museum was next. I've waxed poetic about this place before. I cannot recommend a visit to the FWM highly enough. It seems that when artists work with the FWM they're always stretched a bit. In an introduction to the piece, Fernández was very generous in her praise of the Fabric Workshop in relation to how working with them shaped the work. And the work is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Ironically, the circle of fire reminded me a little bit of Robert Irwin's Homage to the Square in regards to the way that others in the room effect the way the work behaves. Walking closely around the perimeter and looking down into the circle it looks as if it's raining fire in an old silent film. There's no other way to describe it. That's exactly what it looks like. The more time I spent with the piece the more stunning it became. However, there is one little distracting thing, but I won't mention it here. You might not notice it. You might not. Pretend that I didn't even say that. But, man. Details. Teresita, take a lesson from Sabrina (see below).

After the Fabric Workshop we went on to a group show at Vox Populi in the same building at the FWM. There was some nice stuff, but the standouts for me were Eva Wylie's silk screens on the wall and Nami Yamamoto's pattern pieces. Yamamoto's works looked like they were made of those old candy buttons that used to come on strips of paper. All white buttons connected with thin lines of color drawn on the wall. Sweet.

Before I had to hop on the train to come home we went to two fiesty galleries, Space 1026 and Black Floor Gallery. These two galleries made me think of what I had always hoped that Williamsburg would become, and what I think the 'Burgers art clique police always secretly hoped it wouldn't. It's like the youth quake without the trust funds, pretention, and sense of entitlement. Whatever. They got what they wanted, and so did I. It just takes a train trip to Philly to get it. Of course, that's not completely true. There's always Joymore in Williamsburg and Little Cakes wherever they land. Here comes a digression . . .

This isn't a diss on the Williamsburg galleries. There are a number of galleries there that I love and visit regularly. They are what they are. Just because I never found what I hoped to find in Willamsburg doesn't mean that it's bad. It's just that I had always hoped to find more 2003 Blackout street party there, and less high school hallway*.

There's a certain openness in Space 1026 and Black Floor galleries that just pulled me apart. It felt like a true community which is a welcoming thing, both to those already inside as well as to those entering. That that can still be found anywhere makes me happy. It felt encouraging to both the artists and the viewers without that sense of forced entitlement and assumed outcome. Forget the script. If "successful" things happen: great. They have been wished for, of course, but not presumed. In the meantime take risks with what you're doing and what you're seeing and we'll go from there. Refreshing.

As I mentioned before, the two galleries that give me a similar feeling in NYC are Joymore and Little Cakes. I knew about the connections that Joymore had to that gallery because of some of the artists in the excellent Precious Moments show this summer. So, it was a nice surprise when I recently found out from Hanna at Little Cakes that she knew some of the Space 1026 founders from RISD.

Digression over.

Space 1026's main space had been overtaken by Nick Paparone and Jamie Dillon. OK. First of all, give me party gifts to take home from anything and I'm your pal. Give me an object to take home from your art opening that is as goofy as it is touching and I'll be your fan. Their installation, set at the top of Mt. Everest, has a playful fakeness with some solid beauty backing it up. The line of repeated images around the backing wall anchors it all. I had stopped by the gallery earlier in the day and they had cautioned me that the piece wasn't complete yet, but I was still taken in by it. They took my picture in front of the peak and placed it in one of their EVEREST cards. When I went back to the opening with Roberta and Libby that evening there wasn't that much that had changed, but they had tweaked a couple of things that just made things POP. I was knocked out. These guys knew how to see, and more importantly how to translate that vision to others. Rockin'. No pun intended, but speaking of which . . . not only was there appropriately sweeping classical music playing as you ascended the steps to the gallery, there were also my kind of prayer flags lining the stairwell's ceiling. Yes, in a stroke of brilliance they had printed the words to the seminal metal song, Man on the Silver Mountain, by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Oh, the times I sang THAT into a hairbrush. "Lift my spirit higher" is right.

Total Space 1026 digression. I snuck a peak at some odd drawings by Caitlin Emma Perkins while I was walking through the work space. Sick. More please.

After 1026 we walked over to Black Floor Gallery to see Sabrina Lessard's "Close Your Eyes, This Will Take Some Time." The work is as witty and direct as the title. I'm always impressed by the fearlessness that it takes to fill a big space with one thing, one simple thing. If you make that choice you better get it right. Not a problem here. In her homage to sleep Lessard makes something hard look soft. Her black bed is made of resin, gypsum and fiberglass, and polymer. It's so realistic that it creates an anxious yearning in the viewer to touch it, and to touch what it represents. To fill the space around the bed she adds a sound work that, texturally, reminded me of Momus' space-cleansing work at Zach Feurer's gallery this summer. It's dark and soft, just like sleep. And like sleep, we can't really touch this piece; not in the way we'd like. Maybe in our dreams.

Get on the train.

*Thanks for that phrase, Scott.


krixfort said...

your reviews of FWM, Space 1026 and Black Floor have intrigued me, making me think I need to venture south.

Thanks again for opening this up to someone who is not so connected to what is happening. It is appreciated.

Heart As Arena said...

My pleasure krixfort. I highly recommend the trek south. Another goodie is the ICA. I've seen some killer shows there over the last few years.

And, of course, I recommend consulting the ever-amazing Roberta and Libby at fallonandrosof before making the trip. If there's something worth seeing in Philadelphia they'll have a post about it.