Tag Archives: art

Art Review: Execution

For most artists the joy of creation is closely linked to the joy of appreciation; they want their work to be seen, and hopefully enjoyed, by the public. In NYC finding a way to exhibit the work of young and unknown artists is an ongoing struggle. Few established galleries show the work of unknowns and while there are some venues that focus on new talent the competition to show work is extreme. At the same time up-and-coming curators are struggling to move from assisting to designing their own shows. A new organization called Nude with a Goose is working to offer a solution to these dual problems- exhibits in free venues. Since they’re not working to cover overhead costs they can show work by unknown artists, and have the exhibits designed by unknown curators.

Their first show, Execution, was curated by Shannon McEneaney and included works by fourteen artists. The curator asked the artists to submit works that dealt with the concept of execution- the process by which art is created. Since contemporary art is often dismissed as being ‘something anyone could do’ she wanted to allow the artists to open a dialogue with viewers about their mode of execution. To this end she had each artist submit a statement, all of which were available for visitors to read, though they were not placed beside the artworks themselves. Walking through the exhibit first without the statements and then with them allowed me to compare my impressions of each artists’ methods with their own insights. In some cases the new information changed my view of the work dramatically and in others it augmented my original understanding.



The one video piece on display, a work by Dana Kash, was choppy and dizzying, showing vague images with only a few seconds of clarity. When I read her statement I discovered that the footage was taken with a cell phone camera, a method she sees as more spontaneous and evocative of her moment-to-moment experience. In this case an understanding of her methods made her work much more accessible.

Paul Bergeron’s quilt-like painting intrigued me to begin with; I found the geometry of it interesting and I liked the textures- thickly smeared paint and patches of fabric. In his statement he discussed his use of motifs, in particular images he associated with childhood, as the basis for his paintings. This psychological foundation is clearly responsible for the emotional power of the piece.

McEneaney sought to include works in a variety of mediums. Christine Wang’s blending of mediums was particularly eye-catching.

Christine Wang

Christine Wang

The rays of light are created by cutting fragments out of the canvas and the actual light is positioned so that the “rays” and the actual rays blend. The presence of a working lamp created a connection between our reality and the world shown in the painting. Although the painting is not strictly realist you had a sense that you could easily step between them. This was certainly a piece that wore its process on its sleeve; the steps leading to the final product were easily apparent and obviously carefully planned.

Undoubtedly my favorite work was the series of photographs by Este Lewis. Photography is a medium often dismissed as necessarily the work of amateurs. Lewis demonstrated her thoughtful execution through her choice of subject matter; the photographs depict an elderly woman, Thelma, with whom Lewis formed a close relationship. The images are touchingly personal and give you an intimate sense of their subject. Portraiture is a difficult business and Lewis’ use of props, different in each photograph, is well thought out and effective.

Thelma in Fur by Este Lewis

Fur from the series Color Me Thelma by Este Lewis

Taken together I felt that Execution not only demonstrated the deliberate thought process and skill of the artists and curator but also left the viewer with a sense of optimism about the future of the art scene in NYC. I am looking forward to their next exhibit.

An Afternoon at the MOMA

This weekend, in between the Biblioball and a ride with the Levys on a subway train from 1931, G and I spent an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art. It was overcrowded and hectic but the art on the walls is well worth battling the crowds to see! I’m a member so we had no problem strolling into the Tim Burton exhibit, but if you’re not a member be sure to buy your timed ticket in advance because they have been selling out.

The Tim Burton retrospective is the first exhibit of its kind celebrating the work of this mad genius, and a mad genius he most certainly is! From the quirky sketches of his early career to the ephemera related to his more recent films, Burton’s art reveals the workings of a very unusual imagination. The imagery is almost always unsettling even when it’s humorous and the thought process of the artist remains opaque. I came away from the exhibit admiring his talent and creativity but also feeling a little bit afraid of Tim Burton. I think this segment of Mars Attacks truly epitomizes the macabre slant of his imagination. This sketch is on the lighter end:

Tim Burton Sketch

Tim Burton Sketch

It was interesting to walk through the exhibit on the Bauhaus School directly after seeing the Burton exhibit; much of Burton’s imagery seems at least tangentially related to the art that originated at Bauhaus.

The exhibition gathers over four hundred works that reflect the broad range of the school’s productions, including industrial design, furniture, architecture, graphics, photography, textiles, ceramics, theater design, painting, and sculpture, many of which have never before been exhibited in the United States. It includes not only works by the school’s famous faculty and best-known students—including Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Lyonel Feininger, Walter Gropius, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Lucia Moholy, Lilly Reich, Oskar Schlemmer, and Gunta Stölzl—but also a broad range of works by innovative but less well-known students, suggesting the collective nature of ideas.

We also wandered up to the 6th floor for a members-only preview of the new Gabriel Orozco exhibit (now open to the public!). I think the curator made a mistake in placing some of the more questionable pieces at the start of the exhibit; when I saw that the empty shoe-box next to the guard was “art” I considered not venturing any further. I recommend forgiving Orozco for both the shoe-box and the subsequent yogurt caps and heading into the center of the exhibit, where you can see my favorite piece- a Citroën automobile surgically reduced to two-thirds its normal width.


Though certainly one of the more expensive and crowded museums in the city, the MOMA remains an essential stop if you’re looking for the the truly remarkable art of the last century. You should also read my earlier post for some smaller galleries worth checking out this winter.

Stay tuned for more upcoming events and follow me on twitter for the latest!

We Call it ART!

There are so many marvelous exhibits on view at the moment (or about to be unveiled) that I’m devoting a post to art in The Big Red Apple!

A startling outdoor exhibit that explores the horrors of sex trafficking is on view in Washington Sq. Park until Sunday. The exhibit, titled Journey, is designed to take “viewers through a range of emotions that sex slaves feel throughout their journey, ranging from hope to desperation.”

Part of the Journey Exhibit

Part of the Journey Exhibit

The Journey exhibit includes the work of a variety of artists, one of whom has another show worth seeing at the moment; Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Memory is currently on view at the Guggenheim:

Utilizing Cor-Ten steel for the first time, the sculpture represents a milestone in Kapoor’s career. Memory’s thin steel skin, only eight millimeters thick, suggests a form that is ephemeral and unmonumental. The sculpture appears to defy gravity as it gently glances against the periphery of the gallery walls and ceiling. However, as a 24-ton volume, Memory is also raw, industrial, and foreboding. Positioned tightly within the gallery, Memory is never fully visible; instead the work fractures and divides the gallery into several distinct viewing areas. The division compels visitors to navigate the museum, searching for vantage points that offer only glimpses of the sculpture.

If monumental sculpture is your thing I highly recommend the Richard Serra show currently up at the Gagosian Gallery; no one does monumental quite like Serra and in the confined space of a gallery (as versus an outdoor installation) these two pieces, Blind Spot and Open Ended, are incredibly powerful.

Richard Serra "Open Ended"

Richard Serra "Open Ended"

Downtown Brooklyn is a bit more surreal than usual with The Public Art Fund’s installation of Double Take on the MetroTech campus.

Designed with the site’s specific conditions in mind, the artists have taken an element of the existing architecture or environment and subjected it to a process of modification or metamorphosis. Each work plays with fantasy and illusion to force a shift in perception, in turn creating a mirage of sorts.

I’m rather fond of this image and I plan to check out the piece, by Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio, sometime soon.

Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio "Lamppost"

Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio "Lamppost"

Finally, the big exhibit on the horizon is the first major retrospective of the works of Tim Burton, opening at the MOMA for member-only previews next week (I’m a member so shoot me an email if you want to tag along). The exhibit will include “artwork generated during the conception and production of his films, and highlights a number of unrealized projects and never-before-seen pieces, as well as student art, his earliest non-professional films, and examples of his work as a storyteller and graphic artist for non-film projects.”

That’s all for the moment; stay tuned for more upcoming events and belated reviews of some of my recent adventures! Also be sure to follow me on twitter for the very latest updates!

Drinking, Art and Ticker Tape!

Those of you following me on Twitter have heard about the 1st Thursdays DUMBO Gallery Walk happening this evening; let me just add that there are a number of opening receptions at participating galleries this month, including openings at  A.I.R. Gallery and the Farmani Gallery.

Fred Stein & Erika Stone on Exhibit starting Nov. 5 at the Farmani Gallery

Fred Stein & Erika Stone on exhibit starting Nov. 5 at the Farmani Gallery

Tomorrow the city is throwing the Yankees a proper ticker tape parade in celebration of their big win (ok, I know nothing about baseball but I do like parades). The MTA has advice on how to beat the crowds on the subway and Metromix can help you get a great view and find a place to drink afterwards!

On Saturday you can prove just how well you know our fine city by participating in a massive Scavenger Hunt! Start at the Cube in Astor Pl. and then the Hunt Is On!

Also on Saturday, those of you who have never quite left your beer pong days behind can achieve glory at Second Chance Saloon:

This Saturday, Second Chance Saloon will challenge domestic-whisky-experts and beer-can-free-throwers alike to prove their drinking might in its first annual Bar-athlon. Teams of up to four drinkers will compete in 10 different bar-themed events, from a wafting contest (contestants must identify drinks by smell) to a bar counter beer slide. Prizes will be awarded for first, second, and third place, and cheap drinks and hot dogs will be available for all.

This weekend is your last chance to see the Japanese Garden at the New York Botanical Garden; this is not just the end of this season but the final year so get on Metro North and smell some flowers!

I’ll be back with more fun events soon; don’t forget to check out my last post and follow me on twitter for the full spread of excitement!