07 January 2008

coasting to a soft landing

I've been reading Mike Perry's Truck: a love story and enjoying it. In recent sections, he's been on a lot of book tours. Yesterday, John, Jacquelyn and I went to a panel on urban exploring at Flux Factory in conjunction with their "New York, New York, New York" show, sort of a riff on the Panorama at Flushing Meadows. It all came together in my dream last night. I had to get up to pee at 12:45 or so and the plane was just landing on the country road. It sure didn't feel like a crash landing.

The plane was really more like a country bingo hall or church recreation room: wide and not too full. I was sitting in the back row (more like the back seat of a bus), next to a small kid (Perry's Amy). We were flying along and went into a down swoop (not scary, more like a gentle amusement park ride). Then I was looking out the window at beautiful pine trees in the Cascades but I remarked to the kid that we were flying kinda low. Then we landed on the combination country lane/boat dock (that's probably a combination of the urban adventurers and Jacquelyn's going to Santa Monica) and coasted over to the edge of a cornfield. Folks were glad to be getting off the airplane for a while, some grabbing their toothbrush (good chance to freshen up, I think that was Dan Eshom). Margaret Webster was in a short skirt and kneeling on the floor (the floor was more like a van, probably the Contemporary Trends (Ithaca furniture store) van that was improbably in front of my NYC building yesterday morning). Then I woke up.

The morning dream was pretty colorful too but I don't remember it. Perhaps it's all the Perry sentence: Sometimes life is so simply good. (p. 163)

05 January 2008

galleries in LES

The New Museum opened late last year. I hadn't been though I did go to some of the pre-groundbreaking stuff they did a couple years ago. And I watched it growing up. The neighborhood around there has always had some galleries but the New Museum is sparking a lot more art activity. That is of course the New York way: art comes in, rents goes up, shopping pushes art out, art rises elsewhere. After I got here to the office, I had a brief chat with Sueyoung Park about the Bowery neighborhood and how it's changing. Will all of the lighting stores disappear? Would we like it in NYC if that dynamic (and frustrating) clash wasn't ever-present? It's part of the scene, as is bitching about it.

I started my round of galleries using the map from Time out: New York, Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2007. Participant Inc is supposed to be at 253 East Houston Street but that building was tightly shuttered (by then it was noon so they would have been open, I imagine, if they're there, if they have a show up now). At Chuchifritos on Essex Street, there is a group show. I really enjoyed the Dan Tague piece called "The Osama Wars." He folded a dollar so that the title words were there (bill was enlarged and then printed). From there down to Reena Spaulings which was also closed, as far as I could tell.

Miguel Abreu had a group show too, with some fine pieces. His website has some installation pictures that give a good sense of the show, as well as pictures of individual pieces. My favorite pieces were probably the window piece: NICOLÁS GUAGNINI, Quelques aspects de l’art primitif, 2007, and two covers of the MoMA international exhibition catalog: STEVEN BALDI, Museum of Modern Art, Modern Architecture International Exhibition Catalog (1932), 2007. I especially liked the rocks in the Guagnini piece that looked like the wonderful Vija Celmins rocks (I saw some at P.S. 1 last year. The rocks were a "self-portrait" and placed on a stack of Artforum magazines. The justification for the piece was good too. Alas, the website doesn't seem to have the text of the checklist. http://www.miguelabreugallery.com/

On to a Warhol show at Woodward Gallery on Eldridge Street. The pieces were from the diamond dust series and the installation was good for the pieces, reminding me of the Warhol room at Dia:Beacon. The gallery has been there some months but it was my first visit. From there to Canada on Chrystie Street which has about doubled its exhibition space. The Brian Belott show was pretty nice, with the old main gallery having a light and easy soundtrack. I don't mean that "light and easy" sarcastically, it was really nice. (Art Fag City blog on Belott show)

When I got to Thrust Projects, I was followed up the stairs by a woman who told me that the gallery was closed for installation. She gave me a card for the next show which includes Carrie Moyer. While waiting just inside the door, I looked at a compelling piece with "Fear eats the soul" in German tattooed on a man's arm. Fassbinder reference? Katrina Daschner was the artist; I'm really sorry I missed it ... wasting my time up in West Chelsea? Probably not; nobody can keep up with the hundreds of galleries in NYC even if it's a full-time job.

Finally the New Museum itself. The spaces are really great. My membership card allowed me to bypass the line at the front counter (it wasn't a horribly long line, just a couple dozen people or so). Elevator up to the top floor of galleries. I was meandering around the galleries, down the skinny stairs from 4 to 3, meander. I stopped to read one of the signs near the elevator which included a list of artists. Ah, Tom Burr, and wouldn't you know it? He did the two pieces on that floor that had especially caught my eye. It's partly the narrative but also the craftsmanship, the style of his work. The Burr show with Walter Pfeiffer at the Swiss Institute is really wonderful too. I did enjoy the Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries videos in the lobby gallery; the sound was very nice as were the visuals. Overall, the building was more compelling than the art though the building, luckily, doesn't scream "I'm beautiful" or some such.


Since reading Lincoln's melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk this summer, my brother and I have been discussing melancholia and its role in contemplation and thought. Melancholy (melanchol*) and utopia are both words that jump out of writings and art work titles for me. And fill my mental commonplace book. It happened again last week when I was reading a backlogged issue of The New York times (Dec. 19). The article was about rappers in Marseille (yes, the one in France). One of them -- Soprano (M'Roumbaba Saïd) -- has a track called "Melancholic anonymous" about which he said "I can't help it, expressing my feelings, my melancholy in my lyrics. I can laugh at my sadness. It helps."

02 January 2008

greenery will triumph

Maybe my other new year's resolution will be to put something here more often. In the meantime a couple paragraphs from the "March" chapter of Truck by Michael Perry of Population: 485 fame:

The snow will fall again before the frost is out, but we are gaining momentum for that time of year when everything reappears. The ugly stuff first, as it happens: neglected lawnmowers, weed-wrapped tires, waterlogged copies of the Early Bird Shopper. But most days there is a flavor to the air that suggests greenery will triumph.

Last thing before I turn off the lights and head for bed, I inspect the sprouting tray. Each cell cradles a cube of peat, and at the center of each cube is a seed, quietly pursuing the sun. Thomas Moore said [in Lalla Rookh] tears are a luxury only to the happy. When I am forced to cast my eyes beyond my own navel, I realize that a dip in sweet melancholy is every bit as indulgent as a bubble bath. Be joyful, says Wendell Berry, though you have considered all the facts.