Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ikea Everywhere.

Erik Benson

This painting seems to be everywhere I go. I posted about the first two times I saw it, and when I went to the Marie Walsh Sharpe open studios on Sunday ... WHOOMP (There it was.). Just to be clear. This is not a problem. I dug this painting from the gitgo and the pressure hasn't let up. It was great to see a full studio of paintings by the artist, Erik Benson. Plus, it was nice to meet him. Totally sweet guy. And I love the way the painting below collaborated with the flowers in the room. Below that is a close-up of another painting that made me realize one of the things I like about this work. It makes me feel like I'm looking in on a diorama which makes it more than a little sculptural, even though it's painted flat. Awesome.

Do ya think that my trip to the Marie Walsh Sharpe open studios was a successful one? Geez. 2009. It was a very good year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


There are five stages of grief. North. South. East. West. Down.

Prurient, Rose Pillar, 180 Page Hardcover Book with 11" Record.


The Departure

Sunday, I came across some beautiful and vaguely ominous paintings by Frank Webster when I went to the Marie Walsh Sharpe open studios. Specifically it was the painting with the plane in the sky that got me. It could have just been a plane in the sky or it could have been one of those planes in the sky on that morning. I was thinking that maybe it was a case of me projecting too much into a painting. I was thinking, "When will this even get out of my head?" Then, I saw the photo in the Times from this morning's unannounced flight meanderings over Lower Manhattan. Then I realized, "Oh, right. Never." Turns out the title of the painting is The Departure, which could move in either direction, meaning-wise. Life is weird. Painting is real.

The Departure (detail)

New York Times, photo, April 27, 2009.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Maps and Traditions.

Well, as predicted, when I went to see what Franklin Evans was up to in his Marie Walsh Sharpe studio I had one nice surprise after another. The first surprise was the new occupant of Sarah Peter's former studio, Eric Sall. Although I knew the name I didn't know the work. Apparently, a tradition of ass-kicking in that space has officially begun.

I don't know. Where to start with this one? I mean, what didn't I like about this work? I can't think of a single thing. I loved this work. The color. The way it moved. The surprising textures . . . Soft focus. Hard focus. Thick. Thin. Globby. Gone. It was like a Pixies song that I actually liked. I was happy that Sall was in one of the few studios without a stunning view of the river. Nothing to distract me when I got lost in this new map I had wandered into. Wasn't really interested in finding my way back. I was pretty happy there with the paint.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thomas Chimes, RIP.

Thomas Chimes, Faustroll Helmet

Faustroll Helmet is the one I never quite got over. I saw it in the 2007 retrospective at the PMA

Timothy Buckwalter appreciates.

Libby remembers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Down By The River.

Franklin Evans, fluteplayerinnevadatrees, 2008

Franklin Evans is one of those artists that I see occasionally at openings. We have some mutual friends. Here are two things that always happen when I see him. 1. I enjoy the hell out of our conversations. 2. I always dig his art if it's in the show. (Like here.) Big congrats to him for scoring a Marie Walsh Sharpe studio down in DUMBO this year. The program is having their open studios this weekend with the opening reception tonight from 5-9 tonight. I usually attend for one or two artists with whom I'm familiar, and then finding about five more that I find really interesting. If you like art and you live in NYC, attendance is almost mandatory. Go.

20 Jay Street, suite 720

friday, april 24, 5-9 OPENING RECEPTION
saturday, april 25, 2-6
sunday, april 26, 2-6

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Nan Goldin

Don't expect obedience, promise keeping, or rectitude
From me; I'm drunk. I've been famous for carrying
A wine pitcher around since the First Covenant of Adam.
--Hafez (trans. Robert Bly)

Sharon Core

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Low Posting.

Sorry about the dearthular posting lately, kids. Still fighting this weird cold thing over here. Low energy equals low posting. So you'll just have to put up with posts of stanzas from Hafez ghazals and other whatnots for a few more days. Love me anyway.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Assume Focus.

Assume Vivid Astro Focus . . .

Throbbing Gristle . . .

Just Like Honey.

You KNOW I wasn't feeling well this weekend if I missed the opening for Allison Edge at Like The Spice. Enjoy her work while the antibiotics kick in.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thank You.

Thomas Moran, Ancient Ruins, graphite and brown ink on paper, 1856

My hometown, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, came up #5 on a list of cool small towns on the CBS morning show the other day. I have to say, as much I was ready to flee the moment I graduated from high school, it was a pretty great place to grow up. One of the things that made it great was the small liberal arts college in the middle of it, Juniata. It provided a window that looked out beyond the county line. I never went into the small museum on campus when I lived there, but I always played on the steps when I was a kid. Jack Troy, master potter, has been doing wonderful work for years, but I knew of him because I had a crush on his daughter in 8th grade and he had a really cool license plate for his VW bus . . . "Gogh Van". It wasn't important for me to be exposed to art directly growing up. What was important was the idea of art. It was the idea that pulled me through, that pointed to something outside the boundaries. Sometimes that's all you need.

Jack Troy

I used to go with friends to drink vodka and Kool-Aid on a hilltop spot in the woods we called the College Farm. After I left it became the Peace Chapel, it was the first project Maya Lin did after the Viet Nam Memorial. I've posted about it before. It's pretty much one of my favorite spots in this world. "Cool" is right.

Maya Lin

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Message from 14th century Persia to the present-day mullahs in Afghanistan.

You puritans on the cold stone floor, you are not safe
From the tricks of God's zeal; the distance between the cloister
And the Zoroastrian tavern is not, after all, that great.

--Hafez, (born 1315 Shiraz-died 1390 Shiraz) (translation, Robert Bly) from The Angels Knocking on the Tavern Door: Thirty Poems of Hafez.

If you missed the article in the Times about Hamid Karzai's move to legalize marital rape for Shiites here it is.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Unbreak My Color.

Recently I heard from one of the Unbreak My Heart stars, Luke Whitlatch, and he sent pictures. Oh, hells yeah. Inversion rising. The pieces he had in my show left a lot of open canvas. The piece that he had in a group show at Rivington Arms last summer (above) was the most minimal thing I had seen him do. And now, this . . .

Whoa. Colors are bustin'! The first background, like copper shifting. And check that line escaping from the exploded corner. Whitlatch always finds an ecstatic and surprising balance I love.

The second second background has things moving into rust. And another bursting corner with more instability and decay between the background foreground. Love those two bars of burgundy holding things down in the bottom middle left. Luke Whitlatch, man. Still unbreaking my heart. Great stuff.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Into You Like A Train.

Look, I'm never gonna be without bias in regards to Louise Fishman. 1. Rosanna Bruno turned me on to her work, and Rosanna's never wrong. 2. Ms. Fishman said something very nice about the show I curated last year. But then again, y'all don't come here for my lack of bias, so . . .

This show RULES!!! And what did it make think of? One thing: Napalm Death. Napalm Death has been cranking out some of the fastest and most fierce Grindcore for 28 years. 28 years. That's, like, 150 in human years. The physical and psychic toll of doing this for that long is immeasurable, yet they've somehow always managed to keep it fresh and thrilling. They recently released one of the most brutal and politically charged records of their career.

Similarly, at the age of 70, Louise Fishman has delivered one of the most ferociously beautiful shows I've seen in a long time. Most of the paintings are large, but even the smaller pieces have a physical impact on the viewer. The freight train of this work runs straight from the artist's hand to the gallery walls and proceeds to careen right through you. You might see it coming around the bend, but that doesn't mean you're not going to feel it. Motion and color pull together to create a moment filled with both victory and struggle. This show makes all of Jerry Saltz' recent swipes at the "white cube" seem grasping and empty. You can keep your cave, J-man. Bring the paint like this and the walls disappear. It's just you, the painting, and all the attention in the world. An approaching locomotive will do that.

BONUS TRACK: Don't miss James Wagner's attentive and sweet reaction to this show.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Metal Friday.

Sometimes metal outdoes itself. The back cover of The Endless Blockade's Primitive would be one of those times. And just in time for the holidays.Heh.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

X On.

There was a woman being interviewed on the NYTimes show on NY1 this weekend (Hey, NY1. Maybe you'd want to put some info on your site.). She was of a certain age, and she was an architecture critic (I think.). She had seen the city go through a number of changes. In other words, she had the long view. With the proper qualifiers, she was talking about how she was always amazed at the crowd that tried to hold onto what the city was NOT anymore. It's in the city's nature to change. It's like language.

Mika Tajima

It made me think of X's taking over the old Dia space on 22nd Street. I was (and I don't think I'm the only one) a little bummed out by the move. Not so much because somebody was coming in and doing something with that space (I mean, seriously. YAAY!). No. It was more about the fact that it really meant that that that Dia was gone, daddy, gone. Gone away.

Dude to self: Get over it. I went for my first visit this past Saturday. Mika Tajima's built up and broken landscape was a lively introduction to the space. Angles and mangles make for some trippy viewing. And it's a nice play on the absence of Jorge Pardo.

And then, HELLO. Three floors of early Derek Jarman films. Too much for one visit, but that's OK. I'll go back. Again and again. When I saw some of the films at Elizabeth Dee the other month, I wanted nothing but more more and more. This is that and then some. A couple highlights . . . Seeing TG Psych Rally in Heaven. The rhythms of the work reminded me of Bryon Gysin's Dream Machine. Plus, it was great to hear TG's more abrasive soundtrack rubbing hard up against the Simon Fisher Turner soundtracks that were filling the rest of the room. Of course, that was a highlight as well: Simon Fisher Turner's music. Whew. So gorgeous, and so very generous. And this is gonna sound goofy, but I liked the placards. Enough info without keeping me from the art. Well done. One thing I noticed a couple times was reference to Jarman's running films at different speeds. It reminded me of Brian Eno's Discreet Music where he gave instructions to a string quartet to play Pachelbel's Canon at various tempos. The space felt so alive and jam packed with action and, well, love. An overwhelming embrace. Too much was not enough.

So, yeah. Dia is gone, but the space remains and has been unlocked by X. Let it rip.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect.

Utopia's There Goes My Inspiration is a funny song about being a sad artist. I've posted this sweet version by The Rubinoo's because the words are more discernible. Here's the original version by Utopia. And here's a nice live acoustic version by Utopia's bass player Kasim Sulton. Money verse . . .

Me and Gaugin used to party down
I was hung in the Louvre, I was Renoir's pal
Vincent van Gogh used to joke with me
Now they don't come 'round
It's all over town that the master's lost his touch
I'm so lost I can hardly hold a brush

Monday, April 06, 2009

2 to 1.

Look, kids! Two of my faves together. Another, apart.

Wade Guyton and Joyce Pensato in Petzel's smaller, next-door gallery.

And then, Cary Liebowitz at Printed Matter. Check the prices! $20 for a mug that's whole. $50 for one that's all busted up, but signed. Perfect. Too bad this wasn't included in Jennifer Dalton's caustically hilarious (or is it hilariously caustic?) show, The Reappraisal, at Winkleman. It could have played some kind of inverted heart role.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Mad Splatter.

Nuthin' but clear vinyl and red splattered goodness on this split 12" by The Endless Blockade / Hatred Surge. Crawling through the wreckage takes a lot of work, and these two bands are doing the heavy lifting. Crust. Grind. Doom. Noise. Cookin' on all four burners, this one.

Big ups to Jason at Chrome Peeler for the tip.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Inside The Torn Apart.

Loved this drawing by Christopher Reiger from the gitgo when I saw it in the back gallery at Denise Bibro Thursday night. The universe inside, all diagrammed out for your illumination.

Plus, it made me think of this logo from the Black Metal label, Cocainacopia, I'd come across the other day. Yes. They're badass satan worshippers. Their logo is a bunny.

And yeah. Another Napalm Death reference as a title. I can't stop myself.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Truth And Dare.

Saw an amazing show at DAC on Sunday, the Ruba Katrib-curated Ecstatic Truth with video artists Jannicke Låker and Julika Rudelius. Whew. Rock-solid, daring curation. Two great videos. And out.

still from Running Woman

Jannicke Låker's video, Running Woman, hits you as soon as you enter the room. It tracks a woman running at night, weeping from the center of some wild mix of desperation, exasperation, and grief. It's riveting footage that feels like it's never going to end. Not for the viewer, mind you. For the subject of the piece. A bright, large floral print dress carries the woman rushing away from and into the dark night. It's like an emotional drill being driven into your chest cavity. Relentless.

While Låker's video is let loose on the gallery's west wall, Julika Rudelius's Adrift is projected onto a constructed wall in the middle of the gallery. It is contained. Visually quiet in contrast to the other video, it is no less emotionally loud. People moving together in a space, maybe a bus. Maybe not. All are exhausted, practically falling asleep or in a state of full public dozing. Dead to the world or possibly dead in the world, but still moving through it. The emotional and spiritual exhaustion is palpable, and it feels like a mirror.

A word about Ruba Katrib's gutsy curation. DAC is a nice big room. It would have been easy to have put another video for each artist in it, but it would have diluted the crushing effects of the show. Kudos to Katrib for holding back and keeping the pressure on. Fucking brutal.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dead Tree Medium.

Photo: The Brooklyn Paper / Aisha Gawad

Olafur Eliasson’s New York City Waterfalls seems to be the art project that just keeps giving. Unfortunately, what it's giving is DEATH. Remember when The River Café was complaining about the projected damage the artwork was doing to its trees? Yeah. Well, "aboricide" is the word of the day over at The Brooklyn Paper today. Here's what the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation has to say about arborcide. Intentional or unintentional . . . you killed some trees, Olafur. Start plantin', dude.