Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I'm on my way to Pittsburgh for a long weekend and I don't have enough time to give you the specifics about why the Joe Fig exhibition at Plus Ultra is so absolutely perfect. Interviews with artists and sculptures of their studios: Chuck Close, Amy Sillman, Ryan McGinness, Dana Schutz, Karin Davie, and many others. Look at my pics and then run out the door and see the show.

I was thrilled when the gallery extended the run because the flu knocked me out on what was going to have been the last weekend. Here's more good news: They've extended the show again so you can still see it this weekend. The intimacy of it all--visual and aural--will warm your heart and kick you in the head. I have a couple internal signifiers that go off when I'm in the presence of the mad goodness. Giddiness is one of them, and I have to tell you: I was practically shaking. Brilliant.

Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.

April and Eric: August 10, 2004

April and Eric: August 10, 2004

April and Eric: August 10, 2004

Ryan McGinness: March 23, 2006

Amy Sillman: January 6, 2006

Gregory Amenoff: March 28, 2006

Matthew Ritchie: September 5, 2003

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Iron Man.

You know. The usual. Serra practically realigns your molecular structure.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Nicole Eisenman at Leo Koenig

Stopped by to see Nicole Eisenman's show again on Friday afternoon for the first time since the opening. All the hubbub's been about the sprawling, ambitious two-paneled "Progress: Real and Imagined", but it was the smaller paintings in the back room that brought it home for me. They let me in.

The painting Mountain Man is so good--so real--that it's scary. It reminded me of that Ronnie Wood lyric, "I'm lost and I'm lonely./Lookin' hard for your love." Actually, the whole show made me think of the song. That, and Nietzche's assertion that "progress is an illusion." Yep. It's that kinda throwdown. Everything's on fire.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rosanna Bruno: Studio Visit.

I visited abstract painter Rosanna Bruno's studio in Long Island City a couple weeks ago. Not only did I find a CD collection that I wanted to pilfer, but I also found paintings that were as immediate as they were mystifying. Bruno's paintings are among some of the finest abstracts I've seen lately, along with the recent wonders of Amy Sillman and Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe.

Bruno's lines seem to trace the path of some unstoppable rhythm, every painting a new and complex song. Although de Kooning is an obvious influence, the painter I found myself thinking about most was Bonnard. Like the French master Bruno brings colors together that really shouldn't work and makes them sing their own strange, deep harmonies.

The initial incongruity of color is what tugs the viewer into Bruno's flow. Once in, the artist's command of both line and color constantly surprises and refuses to let go. The large paintings are especially physical in the way they interact with the body of the viewer. It was difficult to walk away from these paintings. They kept pulling me in, and I kept wanting more. It's a perfect, devastating balance.

A show of Bruno's smaller, more intimate paintings will be cutting an infectious groove at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY from May 25th through June 18th.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Today's article in the Times gave me a reason to endure the brutal city heat this summer: MoMA's CalArts film retrospective . Actually, I'd put up much worse to see any of the breakout films by the late Jack Goldstein. I wasn't familiar with his work until I read Jack Goldstein and the Cal Arts Mafia a couple years ago. For my money, it's one of the most insightful books out there about the making of art in the last 30 years.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I Repeat Myself When Under Stress. I Repeat Myself When Under Stress.

I posted this back in February around the time of all the Charlie Finch hubub. With all the recent discussions over at the Critical Edge at Arts Journal regarding the role of blogs in discussing the arts, I thought I'd repost it.

I'm grateful that this lively and entertaining conversation is taking place, but I stand by what I said 3 months ago: The influence portion of the debate is just catch-up and classification. As far as I'm concerned it is oh-so-very here already and there's not a lot to talk about. Of course, it is important to talk about how that power is used, and that's been the most fascinating part of the conversation.

Witness the fact that one of the curator's of the Whitney Biennial is obviously not only reading blogs, but she's also responding to them over at ArtFagCity. Also, there's an article in the NYTimes today about the online brouhaha concerning Stephin Merritt and Sasha Frere-Jones' reaction to him. The piece makes a point similar to the one I make below about the fact that, five years ago, these would have been private conversations amongst a small group of people. Not so much anymore. The future is, like, so yesterday.

From February . . .

There's been much discussion in artblogland over the last couple weeks about the importance and influence of blogs in the art world. Whatever. As far as I'm concerned, we're way past that conversation.

The influence is already there. It's just a matter of who is willing to exploit it. In the October 2005 issue of Art + Auction Sarah Douglas' disussed the issue of the increasing influence of art blogs in her "Dear Diary" column. Also, I've been receiving unsolicited (but very much welcome) invitations to private views and openings at A-list galleries. In other words, the money seems to be paying attention.

On the Smithsonian American Art Museum's blog, Eye Level, Kriston Capps noted that "Ultimately, I think artists will answer this question [re: the importance of blogs] by including (or not) hyperlinks in their resumes." To a certain extent I think he's right, but a variation of this is already happening. I've seen printouts of my own posts and those of other bloggers included in artist books at the front desks of many Chelsea and Williamsburg galleries.

Capps statement was in response to something that NYTimes critic Roberta Smith said when asked about blogs at a recent talk in DC. Capp reports, "But mark [Smith] up as a blog skeptic. He likened blogs to 'phone conversations,' as something 'stuck in the ether.'" I actually think that that's a pretty astute observation of what happens out here. However, I fail to see any negatives in either of Smith's classifications of the blogosphere.

Smith is correct in a narrow way in regard to blogs being like phone conversations. Being housed in a wire doesn't mean that phone conversations can't be really lively and smart, and the accessibility of blogs expands the possibility of how many people might be sharing that wire. The recent brouhaha about Charlie Finch is a good example of a conversation that would have been limited to party talk between a limited number of people a couple years ago. The other week that same discussion took place in front of thousands of people. And thanks to archives it's still out there, you know, in the ether.

Which, by the way, isn't a bad place to be stuck. There are a number of original voices stuck in the ether, and I've come to rely on them for insight, exhibition tips, and gossip. I'm still reading the Times, Modern Painters, October, Art Forum, Art + Auction, and I'm still visiting mainstream art websites. However, I'm also interested in what the artists have to say about their own art and others. I like hearing what goes on in the minds of collectors and gallerists. And I'm interested in hearing what other enthusiasts like me have to say about what they're seeing. These are voices that I might have only heard at a party or an opening before. In the end, art blogs provide me with more opportunities to get closer to the work. And that's all I really want. A blog's lack of permanence or official status is irrelevant to me. And increasingly, it seems as though it's irrelevant to a number of galleries and institutions.

Speaking of which, I'll be attending the press preview for the Whitney Biennial on Tuesday afternoon. Look for the pictures that night.

PS: For a quick lesson in how this has played out in other areas of the blogosphere check out Krixfort's brief history lesson.

PPS: Krixy digs deeper.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Empire of Dirt.

After seeing Nicole Eisenman's swath of a show on Saturday night, a breather was in order. Sunday afternoon, Nacho Labás' paintings at Outrageous Look in Williamsburg were just the palette cleansers I needed. While Eisenman's rumble celebrates paint, Labás ignores it. Both approaches make me happy, but Labás' work feels more like home.

Maybe it's the Pittsburgh in me, but I yearn for the rust. I can't help myself, and Labás delivers the decay and the beauty therein. The artist uses mixed media to create portraits of things falling apart. I have to say that the more abstract works are my favorite. The exhibition brings to mind the deserted and bleeding walls of industry in Pittsburgh or North Philly, while often referencing the oxidation paintings of Andy Warhol and William Anastasi.

I could stare at these controlled accidents for hours. While they accept the beauty of the present there's a sadness around what they've left behind, what they once were. That gives them a feeling of slow but palpable movement, like visual drones. Corrosion is both subtraction and addition. So, while there's a tension in these paintings that simulates dying buildings, in the end they mirror our own disappearing bodies. Hurt.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

For Those About To Rock . . .

We, of course, salute you. Jennifer Coates opens tomorrow night at Feigen. I saw this painting before it was finished when I did a studio visit with Coates back in February. Hell, it rocked then and it was only about three-quarters of the way there. It'll be great to see it off the milk crate and onto the wall.

Also, Nicole Eisenman opens at Koenig on Saturday night. And O boy, it looks like it's going to be good.


There's a new new post on my Creative Time blog about Doug Aitken's Broken Screen Happening. It was in a spectacularly decaying building on the Lower East Side, the old Essex Street Retail Market. The line was down the block. Many of the beautiful ones were there (Let's call it the Hermes Effect.). Things happened. Paint peeled. Adam Green was pissed. Where has his love gone?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Philly Pop.

Just two shots of a Lichtenstein sculpture I ran into in Philly on Friday.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Scott Walker's last record, Tilt, came out over ten years ago and I'm still getting over it. I listened to it the other day and it continues to open up and confound in unexpected ways.

His new record, The Drift, is released today by 4AD.

Meticulously crafted from inception to execution, Walker's songs are fearless, challenging, and huge. Apparently, The Drift is another step into the deep. The Observer gives a clumsy (almost inept) telling of of the singer/songwriter's history, and then gets around to conveying the devestating effects of the new record. Momus not only thinks that The Drift is better than Tilt, he's actually in fear for your life upon the listening. Trust me when I tell you that in this instance, Momus is not playing the role of the unreliable narrator.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Fucking Luminous.

Zoe Strauss' I-95 show in south Philly under I-95. Sheer heart attack. Absolutely massive. It was everything I want art to be.

Friday, May 05, 2006

So Far, So Good.

Really, really good. I know I'm starting to sound like a Teletubby when it comes to Gray-Kapernekas ("Againagainagain!"), but they just don't seem to know the meaning of failure. On the way home from the preview tonight I thought of the phrase "aggressive beauty" to describe the quartet of Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe paintings. That wasn't quite right though. Don't get me wrong. This is stunning work, but it doesn't come at you. It's way too self-assured to need to do that. This is a beauty that simply stands its ground, come what may. These paintings are immediately striking, then they somehow recede only to turn around and betray something deeper. Watching closely they moved with me, or was I moving with them? Doesn't matter. Either way it's a fabulous trip. My abstract heart was all atwitter . . . again.


Florin Hategan, detail from Target #1, 2005, Linocut, 36 x 48 inches
Just down the hall there was an opening at the International Print Center for a show selected and curated by Richard Tuttle. Obviously, we're in good hands here, and the excellent results are no surprise. Highlights were John Baldessari, Amy Worthen, Benjamin Edwards, and Florin Hategan. As a bonus to the bonus their was a nice array of prices for you collectors out there (I apologize for the temptation right here and now, Cesar.) But like I said, the quality: All top notch.

Bonus Knowledge

On the way home I noticed that the new Ashley Bickerton is opening on Saturday at Lehmann Maupin. I almost always like Bickerton's moves. Sheer pleasure. Take what you will from his work. Beauty? Check. Composition? Check. Mad art history references? Check. He is very much the man. Opens on Saturday.

I stopped in at the opening for the new Thomas Helbig paintings at Bortolo Midayan. Wow. Really, really boring. Especially in contrast to the thrills at G-K and the IPCNY. Sometimes with shows like this, I'm saved by drawings that might be hanging around. Not the case here. I'll give the show another shot, but for now that's my verdict.