Lower East Psychedelic

05/13/2009 4:00 AM |

For a particularly trippy – and mostly excellent – gallery walk on the Lower East Side, four shows with gleaming, peeling surfaces and rainbow tones are especially worth your while. Each artist attempts and achieves different things with their dazzling displays of color, but even the most mundane still delights with ridiculous characters and landscapes.

That would be Michael Velliquette’s show Abundant Creatures at DCKT Contemporary (through June 21), which mostly seems like a pitch for designing children’s books. Not that his colorful paper cut-outs of faces, landscapes and totems aren’t exquisite, but aside from the places where they start to look like monstrous humans (one, for instance, has iPod earbuds in its fuzzy ears) Velliquette plays things way too cute and safe.

Around the corner at Salon 94 Freemans, the exhibition Green Pink Caviar by Marilyn Minter (through June 13) makes spectacular use of neon greens and pinks, gooey gels, make-up products, foods and jewelry. Minter paints and photographs women’s sweaty, heavily made-up faces in extreme, monumental detail. In so doing, Minter turns the conventional imagery of prettiness into something grotesque, dazzlingly beautiful and practically abstract. These cheeks, hairs, lips and tongues could just as easily be colliding galaxies or dueling amoebas.

At Feature Inc., meanwhile, diminutive natural objects get a psychedelic makeover in David Shaw’s exhibition inuverse (through May 30). Shaw’s work is like textbook postmodernism, with tree trunks and plywood shards morphing into glimmering, metallic rainbow surfaces shooting off into space at strange angles. The effect is rather hypnotic, and it’s hard to figure out if the trees are growing out of some primordial color crystals or if Shaw is tracking transcendental forces of nature as they spiral outwards.

After these three relatively figurative exhibitions, Jen Stark’s stunning, meticulous, abstract cutouts at LMAKprojects in the exhibition The Beginning of the End (through June 21) are a welcome formal exercise. There’s something retro in her geometric patterns and perfectly plotted rainbow color schemes, but the way Stark manipulates forms and materials, peeling back, layering and slicing through seemingly infinite sheets is surprisingly captivating. Moreso than the artists mentioned above, her sculptures (her drawings not so much) invite us to bliss out in wonder at the delightful play of colors, forms and shapes. And really, isn’t that what psychedelic art is all about?