June 2004 Archives

When critics run wild

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No, this isn't a post about Dale Peck. It's about a review in the NY Observer by Mario Naves of our friend Susan Wanklyn's show at Cheryl Pelavin. I think it's hilarious -- the heart sinks! And it's never bad to have your review next to one about Robert Ryman.

Notwithstanding its virtues, Ms. Wanklyn’s art points to a problem common to artists who have come of age since the rise of Conceptualism: a disconnect between form and content. You remember that old saw—well, it’s been so thoroughly trounced upon by deconstructionists, postmodernists and nihilists of one stripe or another that it’s time to take the saw out of the closet, run a damp cloth over it and look at it anew. The legacy of Conceptual art is not a culture bereft of artistic talent, but a culture that is merely talent.

The scene is full of painters and sculptors with impressive technical skill who have, in essence, nowhere to go with it. So they paint about something, burdening the work with Meaning. The ambition to imbue color or space or shape with meaning—to grace form with a full-bodied and independent life—is alien to a generation conditioned to believe that art is an adjunct to something else. Ms. Wanklyn has done some fine paintings in the past; she’s likely to right herself in the future. But when her snarled doodles reveal themselves as stick figures of riders on horses, the eye cringes and the heart sinks.


Susan Wanklyn Action Figure #7 (2004) 9 x 11.5 inches, Casein on Paper


That was quick. There is a new, and timely, Get Your War On up now.



Empty Studio, 70 Washington Street, DUMBO

The area under the Manhattan Bridge overpass is being condominium-ized, and art spaces are on the move. Smack Mellon will soon leave its fragrant gallery in an old spice factory for other quarters. The many studios in 70 Washington Street are emptying out. During this transition, an arts group called TAG Projects, run by Derick Melander, Tim Kent and John Silvis, is using one vacated space for a very short-run exhibition, with Peter Corrie as curator.
-- From Holland Cotter's review of 'Death to the Fascist Insect That Preys on the Life of the People'

The show, which we saw today (its last day) was great. Watch TAG Projects for future cool things. I think James will be writing up something soon.

Oops. I forgot my blog disappears if I don't post for a week. Busy, plus technical difficulties at home - A/C, wiring, two computers failing, cell phone problems...

Last chance stuff for today (a couple end tomorrow), by neighborhood:


Death to the fascist insect that preys on the life of the people
Gallery 800 • 70 Washington Street, Suite 800
(That's a quote from the Symbionese Liberation Army, in case you're fuzzy on fringe political movements.)

Sunrise Sunset - group show curated by Amanda Church and Courtney J. Martin
Smack Mellon
Closes Sunday


OK, America!

Susan Wanklyn
Cheryl Pelavin
This closes today. Ignore the gallery web page which says it ran April-May. Bad cut and past job I assume. See here for more on Susan.

East Village

Rowdy Remix
ATM Gallery
Group show that includes Jules de Balincourt, Brian Belott, and Tom Sanford. Closes tomorrow.


Carrie Yamaoka
Debs & Co.
Her best show ever, and the last day of existence for this gallery. We saw the show already, so I don't know if we'll make it by there for the last day. Tell Choire and Nick we said hello.


Untitled 1959

After meeting a friend at Savoy, we went by this show at Peter Blum in Soho. It was odd to walk into such a quiet, beautiful exhibition from an 85-degree day on Wooster Street. It's up through September 25.

We saw some good stuff last Saturday. Unfortunately, it was the last day for some of it. I'm a bad art journalist!

In no particular order:


Tony Feher, Untitled
nine mylar bags and push pins

Tony Feher at D'Amelio Terras: Lovely show, up through July 2nd. He is doing some new things with hanging works beyond what I have seen before. The potato chip bags above had holes made by a hole puncher in them. It was fun to see everyone light up with a smile as they walked into the gallery. James took some photographs of the show that will probably show up on his site.



Lars Fisk, End Table
Cast rubber, steel, bamboo, ed. of 3

Lars Fisk at Taxter & Spengemann: this is one of the less-known galleries in Chelsea that should be on everyone's list. We first met Pascal Spengemann a few years ago at Scope Art Fair, representing his gallery in Vermont! Lars Fisk plays with fake chinoiserie and other aspects of fetishized "foreignness." The show has closed.

The next show at the gallery looks great. The image below doesn't convey the glow and color of this painting, which we saw in the gallery:


Anna Schachte, Freedom Festival Plaza Parkinglot
Oil on canvas, 70" x 70"


You don't need me to tell you that the Amy Cutler show, now closed, at Leslie Tonkonow, was brilliant. Plenty of people have mentioned it as a great show. I think she has hit a new artistic level in her work.



Tal R, Palace imorgen
oil , paper collage on canvas 78 3/4 x 78 3/4

Tal R at LFL Gallery, up through June 19th. The artist is Danish/Israeli (!), but in a way the work looks like it could be an African artist. Great use of color, and smart use of collage in a way that looks like painting.


I forgot to mention we also saw Eric Doeringer selling his bootlegs on 24th Street. We bought a "Jack Pierson" letter piece that said "STAY". His Christian Holstad, Laura Owens, and David Reed pieces looked tempting as well.

Playpen @ The Drawing Center

This looks like one of the best summer shows I've heard about, at The Drawing Center:

Playpen: Selections Summer 2004 June 17 – July 24, 2004 Opening Reception: Wednesday, June 16, 6:00–8:00 pm "Playpen" is a process-based exhibition that encourages experimentation with the boundaries of space, drawing, and the role of the institution. Each of the artists represented has created a project specifically for the exhibition. Often depending on direct interaction with the audience for their ultimate meaning, the works in "Playpen" cross the restricted line between the sanctity of objects and the temporality of performative events.

The artists featured in "Playpen" are: David Brody (Brooklyn, NY), Voebe de Gruyter (Brussels, Belgium), Charles Goldman (Brooklyn, NY), Alina Viola Grumiller (New York, NY), Valerie Hegarty (Brooklyn, NY), Geoff Lupo (Brooklyn, NY), Edward Monovich (Summit, NJ), neuroTransmitter (New York, NY), Red76 (Portland, OR and Chicago, IL), Gedi Sibony (Brooklyn, NY), Austin Thomas (Brooklyn, NY), and Alex Villar (New York City).

I did Charles Goldman's web site, and I'm a huge fan. We heard about the show when we were visitng Valerie Hegarty's studio at Smack Mellon a couple of nights ago.

Speaking of summer shows, "Sommer Show" at Lehmann Maupin is really incredible. If I could afford it, I would have bought one of Eliezer Sonnenschein's fantastic paintings -- see Sommer Contempory Art's site for images.

Art openings calendar

I'm going to start publishing our list of recommended art openings on the web, via iCal and my .Mac account.

Go here to see it. Those blessed few with a Mac and OS X can subcribe to it if you wish.


Update: Go to ArtCal for the new web-based version.

Plenty of Art tonight

Things to attend:

Lehmann Maupin's summer show, titled "Sommer Show", features work from Sommer Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv. (Get it?) We met Irit Mayer-Sommer a couple of years ago at the Armory Show, and she shows some very interesting work (including a Bedouin photographer named Ahlam Shibil). We have several Gil Shani works, both photography and drawing, we bought from her.

After that we'll head to DUMBO, for Smack Mellon's Open Studios from 6-9. There is also a group show curated by Amanda Church and Courtney J. Martin up now.

Triangle Studios has an open studio reception and benefit silent auction from 6-10 tonight. There are some good names in the silent auction, including Andy Yoder and David Humphrey.


Terrorism incidents may be at the highest point in 20 years.

The State Department is scrambling to revise its annual report on global terrorism to acknowledge that it understated the number of deadly attacks in 2003, amid charges that the document is inaccurate and was politically manipulated by the Bush administration.

When the most recent "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report was issued April 29, senior Bush administration officials immediately hailed it as objective proof that they were winning the war on terrorism. The report is considered the authoritative yardstick of the prevalence of terrorist activity around the world.

"Indeed, you will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight" against global terrorism, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said during a celebratory rollout of the report.

But on Tuesday, State Department officials said they underreported the number of terrorist attacks in the tally for 2003, and added that they expected to release an updated version soon.

Several U.S. officials and terrorism experts familiar with that revision effort said the new report will show that the number of significant terrorist incidents increased last year, perhaps to its highest level in 20 years.

Bloggy takes Los Angeles


James and I are headed to the west coast! I'm going to the Open Source Conference in Portland, OR at the end of July, and then we'll be in Los Angeles the first week of August.

I've never been to LA, if you can believe it. We aren't going to spend a huge amount of time going to see art, but I know we'll hit Terence Koh's show at Peres Projects and the Made in Mexico show at the Hammer.

Cool hotel, restaurant, architectural, whatever recommendations are welcome.

Museum Mile

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Tomorrow is Museum Mile Day - 9 museums along Fifth Avenue open for free, 6-9pm, and the avenue closed to traffic. It's one of my favorite art things in NYC. Great crowd, great vibe.

The Metropolitan has August Sander, the Byzantium show, the show of 18th century French fashion and furniture, and more. The Goethe Institute always has some interesting stuff too. Oddly, the Neue Galerie web site says that their expressionism show closes today.

P.S. I turn 38 tomorrow. Condolences may be put in the comments.

Good stuff I've seen lately

OK. Not going to talk about dead presidents or war anymore for a bit. I may not even read the news except for arts coverage for a while.

Recently seen work of note:

Vicki Sher at Jessica Murray Projects. The show ends June 13. I don't think this image, or the other on the web site, do her work justice. They are beautiful, disturbing pencil and watercolor works.


Vicki Sher, Kristin, 2004
graphite, colored pencil and watercolor on paper, 13 1/2 x 18 1/4"

While you're at the gallery, you might want to ask to see the prints that Brady Dollarhide has been working on. They're great. Also, check out the latest work by Jackie Gendel. She's making some interesting wax and oil (and maybe graphite?) works. I've been watching her work since seeing it in a group show at White Columns.



Joy Garnett, Air Strip (2003) 44 x 84 inches. Oil on canvas.

There is a group show called Active Duty, described as

Armed Artists of America (AAA)
Armed with ideas and the tools to create a rapid response agenda to stop the global progression towards world war three.

organized by Lee Wells at Studio 84 (84 South First Street between Berry and Wythe in Williamsburg) with some great work. Joy Garnett is among the artists in the show, which is up through July 4. It's wonderful to see a painter of great skill doing politically-inspired work. I love everything I've seen by her, including her show at Debs & Co. Check out the review of that show by Tyler Green. Joy also has work in a good group show at Gigantic Artspace called Tactical Action, up through June 10, and Terrorvision at Exit Art, up through July 31.

Updated: Thanks to Tyler Green I now know that Joy Garnett has a weblog.



Good site. costofwar.com keeps track of the dollar cost of the Iraq war so far, and compares it to other things we could be spending it on. An example: we could have provided health insurance for about 50 million children for one year with the amount spent so far.

[via Chris Winters]

Dreamland Artist Club

Creative Time's latest project is super cool: They have artists working with Coney Island businesses to give them groovy new signs. The artists include David Humphrey, Nicole Eisenman, Jules de Balincourt, Jack Pierson, and others.

AIDS? What's that?

OK. One more Reagan post and then I'm going to ignore everything about him.

I recommend writing to the Public Editor of the New York Times and ask why their huge obituary fails to mention AIDS. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, ask about a few other items:

  • No mention of the illegal mining of Nicaraguan harbors during the Contra/Sandinista period [On The Issues]
  • No mention of Reagan's support for the apartheid regime of South Africa. In 1985, Reagan one day announced that the vicious apartheid regime of P.W. Botha had already "eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country." [The Nation]
  • His support of military death squads in El Salvador (try googling the El Mozote Massacre) is simply "In El Salvador, the Reagan administration supported the government against a Marxist insurgency." [ibid.]

Reagan is dead


Some excerpts from The Truth About Reagan And AIDS by Michael Bronski, November 2003:

For the past two months I've been teaching a course entitled "Plagues and Politics: The Impact of AIDS on U.S. Culture" at Dartmouth College and have spent an enormous amount of time thinking about the AIDS pandemic.


As we read about and discuss the history of the American AIDS epidemic in class, my students — all Reagan babies, born between 1981 and 1985 — are often dumbfounded when faced with simple facts. Although AIDS was first reported in the medical and popular press in 1981, it was only in October of 1987 that President Reagan publicly spoke about the epidemic. By the end of that year 59,572 AIDS cases had been reported and 27,909 of those women and men had died. How could this happen, they ask? Didn't he see that this was an ever-expanding epidemic? How could he not say anything? Do anything?

But the public scandal over the Reagan administration's reaction to AIDS is complex and goes much deeper, far beyond the commander-in-chief's refusal to speak out about the epidemic. Reagan understood that a great deal of his power resided in a broad base of born-again Christian Republican conservatives who embraced a deeply reactionary social agenda of which a virulent, demonizing homophobia was a central tenet. In the media men such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell articulated these sentiments that portrayed gay people as diseased sinners and promoted the idea that AIDS was a punishment from God and that the gay rights movement had to be stopped. In the Republican Party, zealous right-wingers such as Rep. William Dannemeyer of California and Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina hammered home this message. In the Reagan White House, people such as Secretary of Education William Bennett and Gary Bauer, Reagan's domestic policy adviser, worked to enact it in the administration's policies.

What did this mean in practical terms? Most importantly, AIDS research was chronically under-funded. When doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health asked for more funding for their work on AIDS, they were routinely denied it. Between June 1981 and May 1982 the CDC spent less than $1 million on AIDS and $9 million on Legionnaire's Disease. At that point more than 1,000 of the 2,000 reported AIDS cases resulted in death; there were fewer than 50 deaths from Legionnaire's Disease. This drastic lack of funding would continue through the Reagan years.

When health and support groups in the gay community were beginning to initiate education and prevention programs, they were denied federal funding. In October 1987 Senator Helms amended a federal appropriations bill to prohibit AIDS education efforts that "encourage or promote homosexual activity" — that is, efforts that tell gay men how to have safe sex.


When Rock Hudson, a friend and colleague of the Reagans, was diagnosed with AIDS and died in 1985 (one of the 20,740 cases reported that year), Reagan still did not speak out as president. When family friend William F. Buckley, in a March 18, 1986, New York Times opinion article, called for mandatory testing for HIV and said that HIV-positive gay men should have this information forcibly tattooed on their buttocks (and IV-drug users on their arms) Reagan said nothing. In 1986 (after five years of complete silence), when Surgeon General C. Everett Koop released a report calling for AIDS education in schools, Bennett and Bauer did everything possible to undercut and prevent funding for Koop's too-little-too-late initiative. Reagan, again, said and did nothing. By the end of 1986, 37,061 AIDS cases had been reported; 16,301 people had died.


I told one of my students that the most memorable Reagan AIDS moment for me was at the 1986 centenary rededication of the Statue of Liberty. The Reagans were there sitting next to French President Francois Mitterand and his wife, Danielle. Bob Hope was on stage entertaining the all-star audience. In the middle of a series of one-liners Hope quipped, "I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS but she doesn't know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Fairy." As the television camera panned the audience, the Mitterands looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing. By the end of 1989 and the Reagan years, 115,786 women and men had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States, and more than 70,000 of them had died.

Here are some MP3s of music I'm using to celebrate. Listen to them while you read James' post.


Sylvester, 1946? - 1988, death from AIDS

Sylvester - You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

Thelma Houston - Don't Leave Me This Way

Vicky Sue Robinson - Turn The Beat Around

I wonder how Jesse Helms is feeling tonight?

Terence Koh

Funny Artnet interview with Terence Koh, AKA asianpunkboy.

Tonight's Chelsea openings

There are a lot, but the ones we plan to hit are:

Bellwether's inaugural show in Chelsea, 6-9pm. It's a group show with 24 of their artists.

The gallery that started the Williamsburg -> Chelsea trend, Foxy Production, has a group show titled "Glad Day", featuring Jane Benson, Sean Dack, David Noonan, and Joshua W.F. Thomson. I've seen some pretty interesting drawings by Thomson at the gallery on previous visits. The server hosting their site is down at the moment, so here is the info:

Foxy Production, 6-8pm
547 West 27 St, FL 6
(between 10 and 11 avenues)
t: 212 239 2758
e: info AT foxyproduction DOT com

White Box has a show of contemporary Greek art which opens tonight, 6-8pm.

You can use Douglas Kelley's (mostly accurate) list to see more. Others of note include a group show at Jeff Bailey and a show curated by Augusto Arbizo that looks great at Artemis Greenberg Van Doren (for the uptown crowd).

A glimpse of the Baghdad art scene

Back to Iraq 3.0 has a post and images from a contemporary art show in Baghdad.

[via thickeye]

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