New York Minute
New York is always changing, and lately it's easy to talk about how much is going 'the wrong way'. Rents are approaching self-parody levels and even people that live here and love it fall into conversations that seek to weakly justify the whole enterprise. But...in spite of it all, New York still has a wild combination when it comes to art: the hungriest, most ambitious emerging artist and galleries are here, next to established institutions that put on shows that are worth living here to be moved by (if that's you're kind of thing). When Blaise asked me to do a column for the 2d Cloud site, I thought it might be cool to do a semi-regular listing of exciting stuff to check out. It would be impossible to be exhaustive---there are so many things happening in different corners of the city, that I can't even make it to all the shows I hoped to talk about here (including the Victor Moscoso show at Andrew Edlin and the Belott/Simonini two-person exhibit at Fredericks and Freiser), not to mention all the probably-amazing-stuff I didn't even hear about/am totally unaware of. What follows is a casual round up of good things I've seen in the last couple of weeks.
The Minds Arm @ 247365 Manhattan (131 Eldridge St, Chinatown) is a solo Nick Payne show and it runs until April 12th. Payne's work, to so many people, is irresistible. For a certain Loyal and post-Loyal group of artists, Payne's drawings have a near-perfect combination of improvisation, imaginative image-making, dark humor and a peppering of old time cartoony tropes---at their best (which is often) Payne's images crystalize into a pure pleasure experience. Something creepy about the works lingers, but it's never the point. The portraits of strange characters are more emotional and personal than transgressive. Payne's work often gets talked about as unsettling but to me it's always more of a present.
This show, Payne's first solo show in New York (as far as I know), is interesting because it veers away almost entirely from his more crowd pleasing work. That work IS there, but it's in the back room. The main space is devoted to much looser, more decaying pieces than Payne is known for. Payne has such a following, especially in the city, but he's a true artist with very little interest in 'the art world.' One would assume that for a solo show he would load it with the most riveting images---but the work in this show is much more subtle and takes some patience to immerse into. I think it enriches what Payne is about---in an interview last year, he said he gets pleasure out of finishing drawings, and the work in this show has as much composition problem solving as anything Payne has done. He can make images that everyone rallies behind, but in a situation like this, he chooses to present work that requires real work from the viewer.
Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch have a video installation up at Andrea Rosen (525 W. 24th St, Manhattan) that wasn't promoted by the gallery and isn't listed on their website. It's tucked away behind a curtain in the far back room. A large video screen on the ceiling projects Trecartin and Fitch's latest work, and you sit down in chairs facing opposite the screen, forcing you to crane your neck to see the movie. The work is pretty immersive---at certain moments the chairs and room vibrate, making for a genuinely scary effect since you're in a room that is set up to feel secret. But those moments pass quickly and are followed by more lush, vibrant sequences full of rich color and wild movement. Installation work usually reveals my own conservative nature, since it so often seems to be engaged in evoking a real world emotion within the cloistered gallery context. I loved this piece because it felt like an experience that you could only have with this individual piece of art---shades of fun, discomfort, amazement, etc. all rolled into one work for an emotional punch that doesn't exist anywhere else. Previously I'd only see Trecartin's work online and never felt one way or another, but I loved it here.
PMAN plus, a show of Annie Pearlman's paintings at Small Editions (60 Sackett St, brooklyn) closes on March 21st, so depending on when this column goes up, it may be too late to see it! But if you're reading this in time, try to head over. Pearlman's work always feels so above most of the painting going on in NYC galleries, at least to my tastes. At first glance it has the wholeness and warmth of Arthur Dove, but Pearlman's theme of New York brings out what I always secretly wanted from Dove. The strength of a meaty Dove image are drained of their abstraction and applied to out of the way (and maybe merely passed by) New York landscapes. You almost imagine the artist rapidly processing these scenes (Pearlman's sketchbooks are full of studies of these scenes that do have a swift energy to them) only to labor over them in studio and make them stronger and heavier than her real life interaction with them was. The work feels like landscape scenes infused liberally with emotion and (not extravagant, not over the top, but just right) imagination.
This week, Laura Perez Harris debuted an installation at Tomato House (301 Saratogoa Ave, Brooklyn)---here's a video of the opening, where I'm quoted over and over again, so I don't even need to write anything about it!
If you happen to be in NYC checking any of this stuff out, you should also swing by Around the World Fashion (148, W. 37th St. Manhattan), which is a gem of a store that carries international fashion publications. I mention it here because it's as good a showcase of color and creativity as anything else listed. You can find any normal, run of the mill copy of Vogue or Elle, but they specialize in encyclopedic style foreign magazines that print detailed reports on every runway show happening. Their best magazines feature no commentary or articles...just photos. You would think Tumblr would have already made this store extinct, but the things they carry are so strange and price-prohibitive that you you would have to try hard to find them anywhere else. And maybe more importantly, they combat the internet by enforcing a strict no photography policy---so their rare publications remain only available on W. 37th.