29 January 2007

you pick a few and there's always more

Gallery hopping in West Chelsea used to be easy. Ten years ago, there were a handful of galleries on the far West Side in the 20s and you could reasonably visit most of them on a Saturday. Now there are several hundred galleries in the area. Instead of just going now, I usually have a handful of shows of interest and then fill in the gaps as I find them or go to the galleries where I usually find something worth seeing. Saturday, I had a couple shows on the list: Bidgood at ClampArt, Brent Green at Bellwether, Michael Petry at Sundaram Tagore.

The day started in Soho with "Boy bordello" at Leslie/Lohman. The drawings were sexy and the cardboard frames were, um, fabulous. Then "Womanizer" at Deitch Projects. You probably shouldn't miss that one. The Vaginal Davis room was rather amusing as were several other pieces. On to "Elephant cemetery" at Artists Space, curated by Christian Rattemeyer. His shows are always interesting and my favorite one at this show may have been the "New monuments for new neighborhoods" by Pedro Reyes and Terence Gower or the film by Mario Garcia Torres. The show included several slide installations and no video. Hmm.

Then Carrie Moyer's show at Canada and a group show at the Educational Alliance with Carrie as one of the artists. I preferred the pieces at the Education Alliance but Canada is one of those galleries that just makes you feel good.

On the way North, I stopped at the Polish socialist conceptualism show at Orchard. The Pawel Althamer video was a real upper; he worked with the residents of a socialist apartment block to get "2000" in window lights for New Year's. He said he just thought people needed some happiness in their lives. It was a tad corny but the faces of the participants were bright. At the B/D Grand Street station, there were musicians on both sides of the tracks, both playing Asian instruments. There had been a piece on NPR about duelling banjos and that came to mind.

On to West Chelsea. I ran into Mike Gaffney of Bobst on the way West and he recommended the African show at Sean Kelly. I started my Chelsea swing at the Santi Moix travel drawings at the Kasmin annex. They were nice and the installation was very beneficial. Sundaram Tagore is in 547 West 27th, a whole new building for me. I rediscovered Priska Juschka (I'd lost them after they left 9th Street in Williamsburg) and the Tim Doud show was quite fine. The Michael Petry show was pretty interesting though the picture in HX was deceptive. I continued on down 27th Street and found a good Joe Ovelman show at Oliver Kamm 5BE. Time was running out, it was about 6 pm but White Box was still letting people in. Their show was "Nuevo arte: colección Tequila Don Julio." It included a couple pieces by Franco Mondini Ruiz from San Antonio whose quattrocento show and pink book were delightful.

So, I had three things on the West Chelsea list and only got to one of them, and it was some of the interstices that made it such a good romp in galleryland.

On Saturday evening, I was reading the Friday Times and noticed the erasure show at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs listed in the "last chance" section. I hadn't been there and decided I could fit in a visit before going to the Carrère & Hastings lecture at Woodlawn Cemetery. When I got to the Dorsky space in Long Island City, they were setting up for an afternoon panel. I really enjoyed the show: Bidlo, Yoko Ono, Christian Holstad, Robin Clark's erased dollars, Oscar Muñoz's fabulous water drawing on hot stone (the drawing disappears as he draws and he keeps repeating on the looped video), Joanne Stamerra Hendricks's "Erase sexism at MoMA" Pink Pearl, and even Rose Mary Woods and her tape from Time.

Since it was two hours until the panel, I went over to P.S. 1. I'd been there two weeks ago so it was a revisit to most of the stuff. One of the big shows was "Altered, stitched & gathered" which was good after erased at Dorsky. Favorite moments at P.S. 1: Vija Celmins's stones, Guillermo Kuitca's "Everything" map (the Oregon portion stopped just North of Sunny Valley where Tee lived and the map included Kansas City, Fort Worth, Topeka, Calgary and lots of other places of relevance in one way or another). Still an hour and a half so I went over to Fisher Landau Center for Art where I found a good James Brown show -- the whole 2nd floor. His titles are not unique so I couldn't help but think about the trouble one would have inventing uniform titles for them. Oh, I did LOOK at them but the five entitled "Mexico," done the same year, same size, same collection. One would presumably end up with "Mexico [teal and red]. 1982" as the uniform title. This is when you need universal identifiers; let's hope the Fisher Landau uses accession numbers. And it also reinforces that little adage (thanks, Linda Barnhart) that a thumbnail is part of the descriptive metadata for a work of art, to confirm that you are indeed talking about the same thing. The "erasure" panel was interesting and included a performance piece by Peter Cramer and Jack Waters. The dichotomies: permanence / impermanence; ephemeral / durability; conserve / not conserve (the play of conservation and conservative); fragility. As Lorriane O'Grady said "I don't know many performance artists who have allowed their work to disappear."

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