Got up to the opening of Elizabeth Dee’s gallery on September 24th. I first met Elizabeth this past March when I volunteered for the Independent Art Fair which she runs. I had a great experience, so I’m glad I made it to her gallery’s new Harlem home (it had been in Chelsea). Located at 126th Street on Fifth Avenue, the two-story space is comfortably large and airy. The inaugural show, entitled First Exhibition, consists of works by 18 artists, including some new pieces by gallery artists who will have solo shows in the coming season.
The ground floor space prominently features four word art canvases of John Giorno (Spending Quality Time With My Mind) , but you’ll also find the wonderful photo-text collage Decide Who You Are #19: Torch Song Alert, by Adrian Piper, which, even though it dates from 1992 is timely; Joan Wallace’s Split Girl / Man Sleeping (Trying to Keep Things Still), silkscreen images mounted on a deconstructed frame within a frame; and Flag, Philippe Decrauzat’s 2015 acrylic whose delicate red wavy lines give this piece a floating, 3-D, op-art feel.
Since I’m an embroiderer, it was Joel Ottenson’s new textile pieces on the second floor that grabbed my attention. At the top of the stairs you’ll find Flies on the Wall, a long panel of bright kelly green silk: starting at the top, take in the panels embroidered with red and gold flowers recalling imperial Asian silks; let your eye travel down the expanse of green, and near the bottom you’ll espy two large black flies (of glass, onyx and spinel beads) who seem to be casually strolling along in different directions… Across the room, on Fly on the Wall, you’ll find – another fly! – just hanging out at the lower portion of a panel composed of delicate, golden tea-colored vintage lace squares. In a different vein is Mixed Marriage, a long, low-slung rectangle of mahogany and other woods, two of whose sides have panels covered with Persian carpets. There’s also a fabulous piece Reweave 8, by husband & wife Mark Barrow & Sarah Parke, who hand-dyed and unraveled linen fabric, then rewove it, creating a new piece possessing an ethereal quality.
Also on the second floor, in a smaller room is a retrospective of works from the 1980‘s by Annette Lemieux, who brings a wry eye to works that play with history and narrative. I really liked Nomad – covering one wall, black and gray footprints swirl across a white background, seemingly not sure whether to walk out of the canvas; It’s a Wonderful Life, a large canvas painted with circles, whose title is in press type on a vintage globe atop a wooden plant stand in front of the painting, effectively extending the painting beyond the canvas; and on the floor in the center of the room, Formal Wear, a bronze casting with a dark patina of a fedora, its insert and its hat box, arranged on a wood platform, to resemble artifacts the artist saw when she was in Pompeii.
There are many more works to see in First Exhibit; be sure to get up to Elizabeth Dee’s gallery before the show closes on October 15th. (The Annette Lemieux show closes on October 22nd)