Top 10 Exhibitions in Brooklyn in 2011

12/21/2011 4:00 AM |

6. Jim Herbert: New Paintings at English Kills Art Gallery
Every time Herbert has a show it's one of the season's standouts. This time was no exception, with a dozen of his giant debaucherous expressionistic oil paintings filling English Kills' ample walls. If these latest images seemed especially blurry in their details and explicit in their sexual positions, that's because Herbert painted them from porn downloaded to his smartphone. For me, the works' incredible visual pleasure had less to do with the scenes depicted than the intensely tactile surfaces of the paintings.

7. Isidro Blasco: Tilted at Smack Mellon
This spectacular hybrid of sculpture, photography, installation art and architecture deconstructed the picturesque DUMBO streetscape into a winding, scaffold-like rig of wood-mounted photographs. The effect was like somebody had peeled an orange in one long, spiraling, twisting rind, turning a contained and coherent space into something disorienting, drawn out and fragile.

8. Kathleen Vance: Outgrowth of Nature at Art 101
After seeing a few of her "Traveling Landscapes" tucked into a closet in Associated, I was excited to see more of Vance's work, and this show delivered. In addition to a larger installation of said suitcase pastorals, she created a series of incredibly intricate ink drawings depicting leafy, grassy patches of nature, and a massive, twisting sculptural installation of bound twigs. Like a giant trap, it seemed ready to snap at any second, but it was still impossible to keep away.

9. Architecture of Devotion at Gowanus Ballroom
This was the first exhibition I'd ever seen at the Gowanus-adjacent metalwork-shop-turned-gallery-and-party-space, so part of its impact was the sheer delight of discovering such an incredible place. But, having seen every subsequent show there since, this remains the one that best took advantage of its soaring interior spaces, which accommodated a series of immense indoor structures including a giant duck and a wooden fire escape.

10. Brooklyn Art Now at Art Brooklyn
It was only a matter of time before the art world clusterfuck known as Armory Week filled every available space in Manhattan and spilled over into Brooklyn, and that finally happened in March, when scrappy Verge left its Midtown hotel lobby digs and took over various storefronts, galleries and vacant office spaces in DUMBO. The highlight was this James Kalm-curated survey of artists who show regularly at Brooklyn galleries.

(Images courtesy the artists, Brooklyn Museum, Open Source Gallery, Pierogi, Kunsthalle Galapagos, Like the Spice, English Kills, Smack Mellon, Art 101, Gowanus Ballroom, Art Brooklyn)

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