Notes on Deborah Kass at Sargent’s Daughters, Neo-Craftivism at The Parlour Bushwick, Bay Ridge Storefront Art Walk, and Bushwick Open Studios.
DEBORAH KASS: AMERICA’S MOST WANTED, 1998-99
Sargent’s Daughters, 179 East Broadway, through June 28th
The higher Kass has ascended into the loftier echelons of recognition and success as a visual artist—a shorter list than one featuring the major museums that hold her work, for instance, might be a list of those that don’t—the more intriguingly prophetic, self-reflexively percipient, and interpretatively loaded this particular series of her Warhol appropriations has become. In America’s Most Wanted, Kass portrays important curators as criminals, a gesture which has a rather immediate hook of witty sharpness, to be sure, but which is also—and indeed more importantly, as it renders the project more curiously timeless—so full of art-world and art-historical commentary, not to mention institutional and gender-related cross-referentiality, that the embedded questions the series poses seem all but limitless. What’s more, such queries have not only accrued over time, but they’ve also become—for better or worse, for all interested parties—even more germane. And then there’s the extended commentary implied by certain aspects of this show’s setting, i.e. Sargent’s Daughters,and timing, i.e. right now: These ‘institutionally’ critical works, by an artist who has since entered into the institutions themselves, are on view at a young, smallish gallery on the Lower East Side; this is the first time the series has ever been shown in NYC in its entirety; it is coincident with a new Warhol show at MoMA, in which his early-career Campbell’s Soup Cans are finally being shown as they were for the first time many decades ago, when they were first exhibited at Ferus, then a young, smallish gallery in Los Angeles. And how about this: It is sometimes said that curators have become almost unreasonably enamored of process. In this series, then—via the mugshots and their material execution—the curators themselves are the ones being processed! Well, anyway, go see the show. It’s open to all kinds of interpretation, and splendidly so.
The Parlour Bushwick, 791 Bushwick Avenue, through June 21st
With so many period details, spatial oddities and general gallerial quirks, the main exhibition room at The Parlour Bushwick, which feels not unlike a partially manicured set for a Wes Anderson film, is so domineeringly pleasant in itself that it sometimes dwarfs the aesthetic potency of even very strong work. Not so this time around. In Neo-Craftivism—a show organized by Rachael Gorchov, Roxanne Jackson and Robin Kang, and featuring their works alongside others by Rebecca Morgan, Nichole Van Beek, Heidi Lau, Sarah Bednarek, Courtney Puckett and Katerina Lanfranco—the abundant otherness of the objects on display overcomes the room’s many charms by roundly complementing them, to say the least. A coffee table becomes a sand-strewn land of horrid fantasy, courtesy Roxanne Jackson; a large irregular crystal of sorts, apparently made of wood, looks like it just flew in from an Atari game, courtesy Sarah Bednarek; several physiognomically humorous, a bit lumpily executed heads almost out-adorn the ornamentation of an already well embellished mantelpiece, which has never looked better, courtesy Rebecca Morgan. Plenty of other enjoyably weird pieces are in the mix as well, and in a broad mix of media. For these artists, perhaps, one way to ‘neo’-fit the Craftivist movement is to infuse it with generous amusement.
BUSHWICK OPEN STUDIOS 2015
Various locations in Bushwick and environs, June 5th-8th
At the time of this writing, the BOS 2015 directory of registered artists and exhibition spaces already features just over 1,000 profiles. By the time the big event rolls around, that number is likely to be even higher. Which is to say, although certain aspects of this annual festival have been scaled back to encourage visitors to spend more time visiting studios—in short, Arts In Bushwick organizers have put together fewer official events than they have in recent years—and perhaps also to avoid the pitfalls of overgrowth, one thing you shouldn’t expect to be reined in at all is the amount of art you’ll be able to see. In studios, solo and shared; in flex spaces, sometimes featuring huge groups; and in local galleries, of course, some of which have put together shows with the aims of BOS in mind. There will also be all kinds of art on cordoned-off blocks, up and down the streets, in the trailers of trucks, in gardens and parks—and maybe also, this year, buzzing around on drones. Why not?
SIXTH ANNUAL BAY RIDGE S.A.W.
Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, from 70th to 84th Streets, through June 28th
Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge has once again been taken over by loads of artwork, courtesy the Sixth Annual Storefront Art Walk, otherwise known as Bay Ridge SAW, a yearly early-summer initiative that pairs a jury-selected group of artists with local merchants willing to temporarily donate some of their retail space, or at least a storefront window or two, in the interests of neighborhood aesthetics. Thusly did the window of a hair salon get a wavy blue perm; a bike shop received an imaginatively anachronistic fossil meta-referencing the store’s wheeled constituents; a flower shop got an indirectly commissioned billboard; a tuxedo shop wound up with a colorful, consistently active experiment with fabrics and capillary action; and a laundromat received a curious sequence of rippled window sculptures that probably aren’t variably sized crosses between gnocchi and fusilli, but that kind of appear to be. Head out to the Ridge to see work by Liz Atzberger, Jeannine Bardo, Deanna Lee, Ray Lin, Christina Massey, Julia Whitney Barnes, Sebastian Carrasco, Kristine Robinson, Isabelle Garbani, Marisa Tesauro, Salim Hasbini, Katherine Toukhy, Amanda Hunt, Yeol Jung and Margeaux Walter. And while you’re out there, pick up some baked goods, buy a bike, get a haircut, rent a tux!
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