Rebel Clay at Cavin Morris

Earlier this month, Cavin Morris Gallery opened a new exhibit, Rebel Clay, featuring some 60 non-mainstream ceramics.  The works were rendered in a wide variety of styles – whimsical, utilitarian, spiritual – with finishes that range from unfired natural clays in browns and grays to highly glazed, brightly colored pieces.  Below are some of my favorite pieces:

Shekinah, Straiph Wilson, 2016, ceramic

The show contains several highly glazed and brightly colored ceramic fungi by the Scottish artist Straiph Wilson.

Black & Blue #15, #13, #14, Kevin Sampson, 2017, porcelain, canvas, wood

Kevin Sampson, a self-taught artist and former police officer creates works that often address issues of social justice and cultural resistance. This piece made me think of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, whose arrivals are the subject of much debate these days.

Untitled, Nek Chand, 1950-1980, concrete over metal armature w/mixed media

Nek Chand is known for his huge environment in Chandigarh, India with its thousands of expressive figures and exquisite architecture. I found this man he created from concrete absolutely irresistible, and so full of energy!

Seated Figure, Burgess Dulaney, ca. 1970-89, clay and marble

There’s something very appealing about Burgess Delaney’s Seated Figure, made from unfired clay from near his home in Mississippi.

Untitled (Head), Kazumi Kamae 2004, shigaraki stoneware

Kazumi Kamae was one of four Japanese Art Brut artists the gallery discovered when they visited the Yanomami Art Center near Shigaraki Prefecture in Japan.

Mask from Nepal, early 20th cent., cow dung, clay, organic materials

On one wall you’ll find five masks from Nepal, created in the early to mid-20th century using cow dung and clay.

This is a small sampling of the ceramics in this exhibit, which will remain up until  October 7th – but don’t wait until then to see it.  Cavin-Morris is located at 210 11th Avenue, Suite 201, in Chelsea.

Fashion Art at Fountain House

Un-Zip, Boo Lynn Walsh, mixed media on wood block

I’ve come across the work of Fountain House artists at the Outsider Art Fair, and finally made it over to their gallery in Hell’s Kitchen for a talk about their latest exhibit, The Art of Fashion , which is closing August 9th.   If you don’t know Fountain House Gallery, they work with artists who live with mental illnesses.  I like their exhibits because it’s art I would be attracted to without knowing the artists’ backstories.

The first speaker was the curator, Kathy Battista, who chose the theme of fashion because fashion affects everyone, it can be looked at from several vantage points, and she wanted to do a fun show. Fashion is also her background – she teaches a class on Art & Fashion at Sotheby’s Institute.  Kathy invited 7 mainstream contemporary artists to exhibit alongside the 37 Fountain House Gallery artists, creating a dialogue between their works.  Once she selected the works to be shown, she then divided them into loose themes, such as celebrities, animals, the paradox of feminism, abstraction, street style, etc. 

detail, If I Wore It, I Wore It With Jeans, Alyson Vega, recycled clothing and other fabric

Next up was artist Alyson Vega, who spoke about her piece, If I Wore It, I Wore it With Jeans.   She’s been making textile art from a young age, using recycled clothes or clothes from thrift stores. When Alyson was young, she had a pair of Peter Max for Wrangler hot pants that she couldn’t bear to part with, so she eventually turned them into a bag. For this work, Alyson started researching clothes from the 1970’s, ’80’s and early 90’s.  The different fabrics – denim, lace, polyesters, flower print cottons – and some patches from those eras are incorporated in this piece.  There are 6 panels in all, but the fabrics are not necessarily in chronological order – rather Alyson assembled pieces that she thought went together well, and then sewed them together.   Measuring 3ft x 10ft, this is her largest work to date.

Beatification (Bushwick, Brooklyn) Elizabeth Bick, archival inkjet print

Elizabeth Bick was a dancer in her teens before turning to photography, which also has several of the same elements, such as light, performance, and movement.  Seven years ago, when she moved to Bushwick, Elizabeth felt like an outsider, so she used her camera as a way of introducing herself, taking portraits of the neighborhood women.  First she finds the background, one that won’t detract from her subjects, but where the light – she only uses natural light – is of a certain type.  She noted that the women are often surprised that she wants to take their picture, as they feel invisible, especially the older ones.   Elizabeth sees them as matriarchs of the neighborhood, and tries to portray them as archetypes, noting that the women have a specific way of expressing their femininity – their hair is done, their makeup is done, they’re well dressed, even when going to the store.  You’ll notice that often her subjects are looking to the side – Elizabeth asks them not to look at the camera, so as to give them an iconic feeling.  She’s taken several hundred photographs, and plans to continue this project until she moves out of the neighborhood. 

Higher Species?, Susan Spangenberg, acrylic, fabric, jewelry on canvas

Susan Spangenberg is a self-taught artist who spoke about how having a studio at Fountain House has made a difference to her life. Susan paints because she has to – she has something she needs to express – and now she has a place where her work can be seen. (She told the audience that when she was growing up, she thought calling herself an artist was pretentious.)  Over the years, her work has changed;  now she is trying to do less self-referential work and instead create pieces that address pop culture or that start a social-political dialogue.  Her canvases in the show are a commentary not only on the celebrity-driven world we live in, but also on the way society views animals, especially dogs, as accessories to be discarded when they’re no longer useful. 

Other works in this show which caught my eye:

Kilt, Bryan Michael Green, enamel on canvas


Fashionista, Gail Shamchenko, mixed media on paper

No Law 3, Angela Rogers, scanned drawing

The show is on only through August 9th. 

So hurry over to Fountain House Gallery, 702 Ninth Avenue (at 48th Street).

A Fresh Look at Hungarian Art

Hommage à Albers, Tibor Gayor, 1975, acrylic on wooden board


With the Eyes of Others: Hungarian Artists of the Sixties and 70’s, the current exhibit at the Elizabeth Dee Gallery, is a museum quality exploration of the Hungarian neo-avant-garde, reminding us that even under repressive regimes, art can flourish.

Postwar Hungary suffered under the dictatorship of the Soviet Union, whose ideology was hostile to modern art.  Even though the Hungarian regime was a more “friendly barracks,” artists still needed to make sure that any “political” gestures – which included embracing Western art practices rather than Soviet Realism – were not overtly visible to either the censors or the viewing public. 

In this atmosphere, Hungarian artists combined their unique visual language with Western forms such as Conceptualism and Pop Art, to create a  radical new approach to Conceptualism, resulting in art that was, by its existence, an implicit rebuke to the norms of the Hungarian state.  The authorities established three categories of work:  supported, tolerated or rejected, so many of the political pieces use a highly coded language or employ humor to cover or deflect from their  critiques of officialdom. Sometimes the political message was so coded that only those inside could understand it; the wall texts and the gallery’s exhibition checklist are helpful in understanding the context of the works.

In Hungary artists were establishing their own unofficial art scene, in private apartments where they held clandestine semi-illegal exhibitions and performances, leading to a flourishing – albeit underground – cultural milieu. These “flat” exhibits for a few hundred friends of friends allowed artists to transmit current styles and trends.  Even though they were not able to freely travel, artists in Hungary found other ways of engaging with their peers in other countries, especially through the international mail-art movement, sending small scale works via the postal service to avoid censorship. 

Radial Enamel I-IV, Karoly Halasz, 1969, enamel on four iron plates

There are almost 100 works on display, with the vast majority from the 1970‘s, but on the ground floor you’ll find works from the 1960’s in that era’s abstract geometric style, including Károly Halász’, Radial Enamel I-IV.

Wall-Hanging with tombstone Forms (Tapestry), Ilona Keseru Ilona, 1969, stitching on chemically dyed linen

The motifs in Ilona Keserü Ilona’s 1969 Wall-Hanging with Tombstone Forms, reference the iconography of rural Hungarian cemeteries, such as the one she visited in 1967 in Balatonudvari, which contains over 60 heart shaped tombstones.

5 out of 4, I-III, Dora Maurer, 1979, acrylic on wood

The exhibit contains several works by Dóra Maurer, whose oeuvre spans print, photography, films and drawings.  Many of her pieces from the ’70’s such as 5 out of 4, are quite rigorous, combining rule-based compositional logic  and geometric abstraction.  Maurer, who had an exhibit at MOMA in 2015, is married to Tibor Gáyor, whose work is at the top of this article.

SUN-OX-FACE, Imre Bak, 1976, acrylic on two canvases

Pride of place is given to Imre Bak’s abstract geometrics, with their strong colors, and strict, sharp, forms and lines.  Along with lona Keserü, László Lakner, and István Nádler, whose works are also here, Bak was  a member of the Iparterv, one of the leading Hungarian neo-avant-garde groups of the second half of the Twentieth century.  His delightful SUN-OX-FACE from 1976 greets visitors at the entrance to the exhibit.

Landscape Transformation, Imre Bak, 1974, acrylic on canvas

Nearby is his 1974 Landscape Transformation, emblematic of his hard-edged paintings.  In the gallery’s office space, you’ll find a number of his smaller works on paper.


Concept Like Commentary 1-7, Geza Perneczky, 1971, gelatin silver prints

The second floor is almost entirely given over to photographs of that era, including two of Géza Perneczky‘s 1972 black-and-white conceptual photographic series. In  Art-Ball (concepts like commentary) he took a tennis ball inscribed with the word “art” and placed it in unusual places, such as  a bird’s nest, or in a bowl of water, or seemingly looking at itself mirror (above).   A second series, Art Bubbles, shows the artist blowing bubbles with the word “art” inscribed on them.  Even though Perneczky emigrated to Germany in 1970 he was  present on the Hungarian art scene and actively involved in the international mail art movement. He publishes his works and writings privately under the pseudonym Softgeometry.

Nouveau Bandage, Laszlo Lakner, 1971, gelatin silver print

László Lakner began his career as a Surnaturalist painter, mixing Surrealism and Naturalism, but in the 1970’s he painted photorealistic objects that had particular meanings.  Because of the political nature of his art, the government classified it as either “tolerated” or “forbidden” which made it extremely difficult for him to exhibit or sell his works.  In 1974, he received a scholarship to study in Berlin, where he continues to live and work.

Lenin in Budapest, Balint Szombathy, 1972/2016, gelatin silver print

Bálint Szombathy took some serious risks with his  performance art, as can be seen in his series Lenin in Budapest, in which he walked around Budapest after the 1972 May Day parade with a photo of Lenin mounted on a placard.  This was extremely risky, because the authorities could have interpreted this gesture as Szombathy parading the head of Lenin on a stick, as I did.

Balint Szombathy, Poetry & Language VI, 1977, ink stamp on vintage gelatin silver print

In 1977, his work took on a more semiotic tone in his Poetry & Language series, in which he would stamp the words Poetry and Language onto photographs, whose images seemingly had nothing to do with either word, but nonetheless forced you to take another look and reconsider them. 

You’ll also find photographs documenting Tamás Szentjóby’s Sit Out/Be Forbidden happening, on which is inscribed – Tous ce qu est interdit est art.  Sois interdit.  (Everything that’s forbidden is art.  Be forbidden).  He wasn’t as luck as Szombathy – instead he was arrested and expelled for his samizdat activities in 1975.

The 30 artists featured in this show employ various media and styles – I’ve covered only a tiny fraction of the exhibit.  You’ll also find photo performances by Bálint Szombathy, Katalin Ladik and Tibor Hajas and other artists, who performed intimate staged events without audiences, often with a political or subversive overtone, sometimes pushing their body to extreme limits, like other performance/body artists in Europe in the 1970’s.  There are also small monitors showing videos created by Dóra Maurer, Katalin Ladik and Ferenc Ficzek.  In addition to works by Budapest-based artists, the show includes pieces by artists associated with the Pécs Workshop, which played an outside role in this period.

The exhibit also features a number of works by the witty Endre Tót – on one wall is his Very Special Gladness series which highlights his wicked sense of humor, especially his photograph of a man reading a book with Lenin’s image on the cover – the photo is entitled,    I am glad if I can read Lenin.  Be sure to look at his conceptual “rain” series in the vitrine.

At All Times 1, Istvan Nadler, 2008, casein and tempera on canvas

Don’t leave without stopping in the small gallery space on the second floor where you’ll find works by Imre Bak and István Nadler that they’ve created in the 2000’s, allowing you to see the continuity with the abstract, geometric vein they were working in in the 1970’s.

With the Eyes of Others continues through August 12th, so before then get up to this fabulous exhibit at the Elizabeth Dee Gallery 2033/2037 Fifth Avenue (126th Street). 

Text and Image

There’s a great show at Site: Brooklyn on word-based art, juried by Edith Newhall, the art critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Featuring the work of some 50-odd artists, the  exhibit highlights the intersection of text and image, in many ingenious ways.

History of Flight One, Ian Campbell, mixed media

The title of Ian Campbell’s piece, History of Flight One, is the title of a book whose images form the basis of this collaged piece.  Campbell cut each lithograph, over which he laid one or more pieces of polyester film, and then wrote on them, repeating this process several times. By layering and tiering the lithographs, he’s created an image that has a lot of depth. 

Rorschach, Annette Barbier, modified book

Annette Barbier has chosen to use a book – Breakout, by Martin Russ, about a battle in Korea by the US Marines) as a sculptural material – which could explain the way the figures seem to be trying to escape from the book, as well as the piece’s title.

Is it Working?, Kara Dunne, screenprint on fan

For Kara Dunne, it’s important that her art be seen and that it be affordable, so she often screenprints her work on low-cost items.  She got the idea for Is It Working? from an old hand fan which was filled with patriotic imagery. Dunne updated the image of the woman, putting her in a suit, to reflect that today women work, and changed the houses in the background to a row of brownstones. Dunne also added the words “working away from” after the words “The American Dream”, reflecting her view that this ideal is no longer attainable.

RichardGabriele_Palimpsest_Blue_No3 (image courtesy of the artist)

Richard Gabriele’s inspiration for his work came from two books: “The Lotos Eaters” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and the Odyssey by Homer.  In order to “flood the plane with calligraphy,” he painted successive layers of different colors, starting with the background, for which he used watercolors.   Then, using egg tempera, he overlayed it with rows of Greek letters, then turned the paper 90º and wrote in cursive English. I love the way the colors bleed onto the edges of the paper.

Expecto Pantronum, Brooke Jana (image courtesy of the artist)

Brooke Jana created this stag from strips which each contain a spell from the Harry Potter series, and took the work’s title, Expecto Patronum from the spell that he uses to conjure the stag.

Murmuring House, Jung Eun Park, embroidery thread, pencil, paper collage on Korean paper

I’d love to see the front of this piece to hear what the house is murmuring ….  On her website, the artist Jung Eun Park says that these works “are simply the record of my intimate life, but also imply the psychological narratives of human being living in a new environment.”  I was drawn to this piece by it’s simplicity, and the embroidery.

Guns and Roses, Francine Gintoff, oil pastel on paper

Francine Gintoff’s work is primarily large format drawing, combined with oil pastel in pink and indigo, evoking vintage tattoos.  She always includes the title of the work directly in it, seeing it as integral to the piece.  The images have personal significance to the artist, creating her own visual poetry.

Letters from Home, Dare Boles, collage

Dare Bole’s piece links the African and African-American families in this collage, not only through the letters which join both halves of the canvas, but also through her depiction of the role of women in both communities, and the red and white dresses in one half that play on the brick pattern in the other.

L.B.D., Andrew Neumann, vinyl letters, wood and paint

I found this piece, L.B.D. by Andrew Neumann to be lots of fun.

Do see the show before it closes on July 16th.  Site: Brooklyn is in the Gowanus neighborhood, at 165 Seventh Street.

Family Stories at Muriel Guépin

It’s always fun seeing the work of a friend and neighbor.  I’ve known Iviva Olenick  for several years, but her show at the Muriel Guépin Gallery on the Lower East Side made me realize how much I don’t know about her. 

Selfie as Modern Matriarch, Iviva Olenick, beading and hand embroidery on fabric

Most of Iviva’s work is embroidered – very often on vintage fabrics – in a freehand narrative style, illustrating things she’s doing or issues she’s concerned about.  A central theme of her work is relationships – not only hers, but other people’s.  Several years ago, she put out a call for poems about relationships, which she then embroidered.  Iviva also examines the relationships between people and places, especially for people who migrate from one place to another, whether or not voluntarily.  

Portrait as my Grandmother, Iviva Olenick, beading and appliqué on fabric

This show, however, is focused on her family; her pride in being part of their gene pool shines through, especially in this piece, entitled, Portrait as my Grandmother, with it’s elaborate beadwork.  Her work here is more intricate, with more adornments than I’ve seen in her previous embroideries.

Great Grandma Sonja, Iviva Olenick, hand embroidery on fabric

You’ll also find a piece about her great grandmother Sonja, whose escape from Russia to England is embroidered into a lace-like collar.  That’s one feature I really like about Iviva’s work – her ability to incorporate words as structural and decorative elements, while still allowing them to function as words.

wall with embroideries telling her father’s story, Iviva Olenick, embroidery and collage on fabrics

But this show isn’t only about the matrilineal side of the family – against one wall, Iviva has placed 8 small collaged embroideries about her father,  Monte. 

The Story of Monte Olenick, Iviva Olenick, embroidery and collage on fabric

I liked this piece for it’s simplicity and use of white space, which convey the starkness of the Depression, without being maudlin; I thought the red and green Manischewitz’ logo adds a bright, hopeful note. The other embroideries recount Monte’s life: he served in the Army, became a librarian, retired, then, for over a decade, led walks  of senior citizens through Central Park (for which he won a Presidential Volunteer Service Award).  He’s also a very good poet (we read on the same program some years ago)!

Beach, Melissa Zexter, sivler gelatin print, thread

The gallery is also showing work by another Brooklyn-based artist, Melissa Zexter , who overlays embroidery on her photographs, often very subtly – once you look closely, you realize that many of the delicate lines are in fact thread.  She also often scratches the surface of her pictures, creating delicate white lines that add depth to her images.

Lake, Melissa Zexter, C-print and thread

Overall, her work has a textural feel, not often found in photographs.  There’s a family connection too: Zexter’s children often appear in her photographs.

Be sure to see these shows before they close on June 24th!  Muriel Guépin Gallery is located at 83 Orchard Street.

Bodies Electric at Cavin Morris

detail, Untitled, Anna Zemánková, pastel, ball point pen, embroidery, 1970’s

I have seen exhibits of the embroidered works by self-taught artist Anna Zemánková, but was unfamiliar with her body of drawings, so I’m glad I saw the lovely exhibit of her pastels from the 1960’s and 70’s at the Cavin Morris Gallery in Chelsea.

Untitled, Anna Zemánková, pastel, 1960’s

This show of about a dozen works features mainly large pastels and oil pastels on paper (approx. 2ft x 3ft), but  also a group of smaller ones, all with with Zemánková’s singular biological and organic motifs.

Untitled, Anna Zemánková, pastel, 1960’s

Born in Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic) in 1908, Zemánková drew as a child, but despite showing talent, she was discouraged from pursuing a career as an artist.  Instead she worked as a dental technician;  after she married, she stopped working and raised four children. 

detail, Untitled, Anna Zemánková, pastel, early 1960’s

It wasn’t until Zemánková was in her 50’s that she returned to art, when her son Bohumil, a sculptor, made her a table and gave her art supplies, as a way of helping Zemánková cope with her depression.  She would create fantastical, imaginary plants and flowers in the early hours of the morning, while listening to classical music.  I could sit in her “gardens” for hours.  Having been featured in the Venice Biennale in 2013, I’m sure we’ll see more of her work.

detail, Corpus Linguae, Luboš Plný, ink, acrylic, collage on paper

Cavin Morris is also featuring the work of another Czech artist, Luboš Plný (b. 1961), who began studying medical and psychiatric texts as a way of understanding the diagnosis of schizophrenia simplex he had been given during his military service.  Plný has created collaged, intricate hand-drawn illustrations of the body, layering skin, muscle, bone, veins, cells, one over the other, creating anatomical images that are simultaneously very dense, yet clear, as if you’re looking at someone through a very, very powerful microscope, sometimes from the inside out. 

detail, Double Bind, Luboš Plný, ink, acrylic, collage on paper

Often you’ll find faces in his works, which have been cut out from magazines and then painted over, mask-like, as well as random body parts floating in the background.  Plný’s work is in the current Venice Biennale.

Be sure to see these shows before they close on July 29th. 

Cavin Morris  is located at 210 Eleventh Avenue, Suite 201.

Bigger, Bolder, Better in Brooklyn

There’s a great group show  Bigger, Bolder, Better  at 470 Vanderbilt Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.  Sponsored by Chashama, which organizes exhibits in unoccupied spaces in buildings around the City, the show – inspired by January’s Women’s Marches – features the work of 16 women artists whose large-scale works take advantage of this cavernous space.  The show closes on June 17th.  Here are some of my picks – in no particular order:

detail, Spill, Jaanika Peerna, site specific – pigment & water on hand cut mylar

Jaanika Peerna‘s site-specific piece, Spill, is in two parts – this detail shows the lower half of her flowing work created from hand-cut mylar that was pigmented.  Walk around it to see how this graceful sculpture changes – you’ll notice something new every time.

Halfway, Suzan Shutan, site specific – tar roofing paper, hand-made color paper, industrial glue, plexi rods and fish line

Suzan Shutan has created a site-specific piece, Halfway, from tar roofing paper with a delicate feel and the graceful quality of a gymnast.

Accumulations #4, Jaynie Crimmins, 2016, 12” x 12” x 12”D, shredded household mail over armature, mounted on wood

Jaynie Crimmins has three ingenious pieces which she made by shredding household mail, rolling up the strips and sewing them onto a backing, transforming junk mail, which often can’t be recycled, into lovely sculptures, which for me, evoked flowers and sea creatures.

Paper Dragons, Elizabeth Riley, ink jet video stills of Dragons of Iceland videos, and video images

Elizabeth Riley has taken several images from her video Icelandic Dragons, and printed them on large sheets which she’s rolled and assembled into Paper Dragons. You can contrast them with the images on the video screens at several points inside the installation.

Breaking Patterns 4, Christina Massey, acrylic, enamel, oil & water color on canvas, linen & paper with zippers, patterns and yarn

Christina Massey‘s  large (approx. 5ft x 4ft) textile piece, Breaking Patterns 4, incorporates zippers among the woven fabric strips, set against a partially painted background of canvas, linen and paper.

On the Horizon 1-45, Etty Yaniv, acrylic ink, film, paper, cable on cavases

Etty Yaniv showed On the Horizon, 45 small collages, each one a delicate, impressionistic slice of life.

From the Outskirts, Alyse Rosner, site specific – graphite & colored pencil on yupo and raw canvas

Alyse Rosner  used graphite and colored pencils on yupo, a synthetic Japanese paper made of polypropylene, to make From the Outskirts, rubbings of sycamore leaves from her yard. There are several strips of rubbings, each over six feet long.  These are very different from the work you’ll find on her website.

Bigger, Bolder, Better closes this Saturday, June 17th, so put it on your list of things to do!

Reconstruct: Artists React to the Changing Fabric of the City

Highest and Best Use (111 Lawrence Street), Lawrence Mesich, archival inkjet print on polypropylene film

The Salena Gallery at Long Island University (LIU)   in Downtown Brooklyn is hosting an exhibit that speaks to the rapid changes to the urban fabric, with its location at the epicenter of  urban transformation making it particularly pertinent. I live close by, and I am constantly astounded at the rapidity with which new buildings, both commercial and residential, are puncturing the skyline.   These are not your row houses or low rise buildings of yore, but rather glass and steel behemoths designed to house hundreds of residents and workers.  Needless to say, these developments have not been without controversy, especially as regards the lack of concomitant development of the area’s infrastructure. The exhibit, curated by Michal Gavish and Etty Yaniv, showcases the work of nine artists.  Here are my highlights.

Lawrence Mesich’s work is perhaps the most direct response to the changes in Downtown Brooklyn, as it expressly examines the 2004 rezoning of downtown Brooklyn.  In this exhibit are his 12-foot long digitally manipulated photographs of facades of some of the newest and tallest residential towers that have been erected in the borough. Their size, and the way they overflow onto the floor conveys the dislocation and disorientation that accompanies these new buildings. It’s title, Highest and Best Use calls into question the validity of that term as justification for much of the new residential development that is going on.  “Highest and best use” is a real estate valuation term to designate the use of a property that is physically, legally and financially feasible, and will also produce the highest profit.  Very often residential wins out over commercial, even though commercial use, such as office space, might make more sense in a given location.

Pennsylvania Avenue, Michal Gavish, archival ink and paint on layered paper and fabric

Michal Gavish has taken three panels of synthetic silk onto which she’s printed photographs of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., where she lived for several years. The middle panel depicts buildings on the south east side of the avenue; on the other panels you’ll find the government buildings that populate the north west side, such as the FBI, the Department of Justice, the White House, etc. There’s also the occasional building that the artist has hand-painted. 

Buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue (SE), Michal Gavish, photos and watercolor on synthetic silk

The arrangement of her  photos, some of which are washed over in watercolor, reflect the crystalline geometries she studied in her previous career as a scientist – Michal has a PhD in Physical Polymer Chemistry – from our own CUNY!

from the Supernova Series, Simona Prives, screenprint, monotype and archival inkjet collage with ink, graphite and xerox transfer

Simona PrivesSupernova series of fantastical landscapes are full of ambiguity – it’s not clear where the boundary is between what’s natural and what’s imaginary. The finely-rendered intricate images in her densely layered prints – which combine drawing, etching, monotype, photo transfer, digital and physical collage – have a strong sense of movement underneath them, and you’ll find something new every time you look. 

Simona Previs, still from Death of a Sun, digital video

I enjoyed her short video, Death of a Sun, that brings together all her techniques, as well as sound by Ross Williams, to create what seems to be a narrative on the continuum of destruction and rebirth. 

Brett Wallace explores the intersection of art, technology and commerce.  Last September, he started Amazing, a start-up in the form of art, that’s now a production company.  He explores the questions of how an artist reconciles labor, surveillance and technology, and the role of labor in the digital age. 

BS-i2-1.0_2016, Brett Wallace, Mixed media (hat, t-shirt, acrylic, steel hardware, wood, inkjet prints)

The background of this assemblage mimics the step and repeat logos that corporations often use.  In the plastic boxes are a real hat and tee-shirt worn by workers in a fulfillment center.

Drone Delivery 3, Brett Wallace, inkjet archival print on dibond

This photo is taken in front of a gallery to which he was shipping art in laser cut boxes with different phrases – the first time a drone was used to deliver art!

Elizabeth Riley with City Remix installation. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Elizabeth Riley‘s City Remix is the result of a multi-step video-digital process.  She used her video “Dragons of Iceland,” to create a new video of a growing city.  She then selected stills from that second video, manipulating and ink-jet printing them onto fabric, plastic and paper which she’s draped over installation racks, so that by moving the racks, you can change what the “city” looks like.   

detail from City Remix, Elizabeth Riley, digital film images on paper, cloth and clear plastic

It’s fun to get up close to the racks, to see how the colors and patterns look close up, and how the background material affects the way they look. I really like her use of color.

There’s more to see in this show, which is up only until April 26th.  So find your way over to the Salena Gallery at Long Island University in downtown Brooklyn, and see this show before it closes. 

Noir in the Bronx : Capturing the Melodrama

Red Sin, Boo Lynn Walsh, digital photograph 2016

It really didn’t take much to get a reaction – once I said “noir” it all tumbled out of her, like the lock of blonde hair that obscured her right eye:  cynical detectives, cheap hotels, lonely dames, traitors, tough gumshoes running down dark, rainy streets, chasing after clues that proved as elusive as the Yeti…

Noir as a genre elicits visceral responses: a certain frisson … a hint of danger … the thrill of trying to figure out whodunnit …  fathoming why …  It immediately conjures up that distinct iconography of grittiness, isolation and strict social roles embodied in classic films such as Double Indemnity, or the stories of Raymond Chandler.  Back in September, Longwood Arts Gallery issued a call for artworks that define noir, and the results are on display in Noir: Defining the Melodrama. The exhibit of almost 40 works contains primarily photographs and oil paintings, but you’ll also find some in ink, graphite and video.  Below are  highlights.

Alyssa Clear with her digital photograph, How I Dissolved My Marriage No. 8, 2016

Alyssa Clear plays the pin up girls and femme fatales who populate her photo scenarios  based on  true crime stories, giving them a voyeuristic, glamorized view.  You can find more of her work on her Instagram feed, Arsenous Apple Pie 

Nikki Johnson with The Pursuit of Happine$$, 2014, C-print on metal

Photographer Nikki Johnson is a fan of film and literary noir, especially Alfred Hitchcock and James Ellroy.  For her, it starts with the concept of a plan, where something goes awry, so she often shoots street scenes at night.  Her piece, the Pursuit of Happine$$, speaks to sex, intrigue and proposition…

Rasheed Humphrey with Woman at the Bar, 2014 digital print

Detective and the Dame, Rasheed Humphrey, chalk pastel on paper, 2016

Rasheed Humphrey was inspired by old films he was watching; he made sketches, then worked out the lighting, scanned the drawings, then painted over in chalk pastel.  The technique he employs as a comic book artist clearly suffuses his work, with its clean lines and bright colors.

Prospect Station, Daniel Hauben, oil on canvas, 1994

I liked Daniel Hauben’s use of  strong, directional brush strokes and the way he layered the paint to convey the grittiness of the sidewalk in his oil painting of Prospect Station.

In the exhibit you’ll also find Jeanette May’s humorous photos of toys murdered by pets that are a sly commentary on how TV cop shows have anesthetized our view of death;  Carey Clark’s photos of a set design she did 2 years ago  in Poland for a stage production of Goodbye My Lovely, which was cancelled 3 days before it was to open; and Néstor Daniel Pérez Molière’s  photographs of the folds of his body.  There’s also a video screen looping excerpts from classic noir films such as M, The Maltese Falcon and The Postman Always Rings Twice. And there’s more art.

On Wednesday, March 1st, at 6:30pm, Longwood Arts Gallery will host a discussion with visual artists Carey Clark, Jayson Keeling, Jeanette May and Jaimie Permuth, who will talk about the stories behind their photos and how they relate to the overall theme of the show. 

The show continues on through May 3rd, at the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos, 450 Grand Concourse (149th Street) in the Bronx.

Artists Equity Show

Leni Liftin and her painting School Bus

I got to the opening the the Members Invitational, a juried group show of work by Artists Equity members at their gallery on Broome Street.  

Artists Equity was founded in 1947 by over 160 leading American artists – including Will Barnet, Edward Hopper, Louise Nevelson – to promote opportunities for artists, and to educate their members on legal and business issues as well as advocating on their behalf, which the organization continues to do today.

While the show is small, about a dozen works, the quality is very high.  I’ll let the images speak for themselves;  the exhibit is up until January 14th!

What Happens Now by Ambre Kelly







Transformation by James Buxton









Ultra Lux by Kambui Olujimi