15 November 2008

ars gratiae artis

After a slow start (it is Saturday, after all), I went over to Fort Greene Park for the centennial of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. The re-enactors had already re-enacted whatever, and the variety show wasn't starting for a while ... so off to the Lower East Side for a bit of gallery hopping. The Friday paper had had some interesting articles about the various gallery neighborhoods.

Reena Spaulings Fine Art: Nora Schulz. Didn't do too much for me but I wanted to see the show since Rit Pramneth (more anon) had mentioned it. The metal tubes at the window were rather pretty.

Miguel Abreu Gallery: Sam Lewitt. Lewitt's "Ars gratiae artis" was one of the works illustrated in the Times. It was the MGM banner minus the roaring lion, and reminded me of Kris Martin's "Laocoon" without the snakes.

The Joe Bradley show "Schmagoo" at Canada was pretty interesting. There was a group in the gallery that looked like art students and professor. I thought of Bill Connor and his plays on words.

Lisa Hamilton's paintings at Thrust Projects were very nice. The gallerist was on the phone in the office but I went and looked since she often has good stuff hanging in there too. And, yes, the paintings in the office were good. The phone conversation was about an opening where the gallerist wanted to interview whoever she was talking to and said it would be "f-ing Thrust TV."

On to White Box: my first visit to their new location on Broome Street. As usual, their show was political, entitled "Sedition" and included a Martha Rosler living room collage. More thoughts of Bill since we had gone off to Worcester for a Rosler show one time I visited him in Boston.

Josh Tonsfeldt's video installation at Simon Preston Gallery was entitled "Physician's horse vanishes" because Tonsfeldt had looked for the gallery's address on Google and came up with a Times article from 1906. The article was entitled "Physician's horse vanishes." The video showed feet kicking up a dust storm; as I stood there, the air started seeming dusty and there was the vague smell of dust. The power of suggestion.

The Ad Reinhardt show at Woodward Gallery may have been the biggest surprise of the afternoon. I was familiar with the black-on-black paintings and there was a beautiful print in an alcove at the back of the gallery But I didn't know the lovely little stick figure drawings of the mid 1940s. The show also included a large collection of correspondence -- postcards, clippings, letters -- from Reinhardt to Olga Scheirr, mid 1950s. His handwriting is beautiful and the stories on the correspondence were mesmerizing.

Nicelle Beauchene Gallery: video installation "watching the wolfman dance the foxtrot" by Sari Carel, included koi, monkey, small hoofed animals, giraffe, with gong and bird sounds. Quite lovely. Sharon Chickanzeff built a koi pond at her mother's house in L.A.; one could watch the video pretty restfully too ... though presumably the real thing is better?

Nicole Cherubini's vases at Smith-Stewart were ok and reminded me a bit of Betty Woodman's work though not as deconstructed.

On the way home along 2nd Street between 1st and 2nd avenues, there were three people looking into the Marble Cemetery. Two of them were taking pictures. The third was a denizen of the night (usually): long leather coat, pants with words all over them, no shirt, bleached hair, actually rather hot. As I got closer to him, I heard him speaking. He started walking toward me on 2nd Street and, as he got to me, said "I can't believe I'm talking to the squirrels. I'm going to the store to get them some peanuts."

Home for a bit and then I went to Mud Cafe on East 9th Street to meet Rit Premnath and Kajsa Dahlberg, two of the editors of Shifter, an online magazine. Ken Soehner had suggested to Rit that he and I might have some interesting discussions about art and classification, the theme of the current issue. The cover photo shows an opening of the New York Public Library book catalog. When I saw it online a couple days ago, I swooned. Such nostalgia. Rit and Kajsa -- non-librarians, met in the Whitney Independent Study Program -- have some of the same nostalgia. We talked about reading: what we're reading, what we were just reading, how we read. Kajsa is reading the Bible, among other things. The release party for Shifter 12 is on Monday night in South Brooklyn. I think I'll go.

When I was home between gallery hopping and going to see Rit and Kajsa, I was looking at mail which included a sale catalog of history imprints from the University of Virginia Press. One of the titles is Negotiated authorities: essays in colonial politics and constitutional history by Jack P. Greene. Good title; I'm a sucker for "authorities."

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