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.

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