02/11/15 8:51am
02/11/2015 8:51 AM |

With a mix of unwavering candor and airs of utter silence—save for the spare audibilities of bodies merging with and within one another—Susan Silas photographs coital acts both as they are, on a most personal level, and as they change, indeed mature over time. Pamela Butler, blending notes of rambunctious humor with frank socio-political commentary across a full range of media, emphasizes the complicated virtues of certain aspects of gender identities while underscoring, at the same time, their inherent absurdities. Ventiko employs multiplied selves, fleshy sprawls and the atmospheric mystique of baroque lighting to create dramatic, at times diabolically operatic photographic tableaux of erotically charged pilings of carnality lost somewhere in the rich draperies of atemporal art histories. Rebecca Goyette, in her videos, sculptures and audience-inclusive performances, eschews subtleties and comfort zones altogether in favor of riotously rite-like send-ups of amorous relations in which merely blatant erotica—at times featuring lobsters—becomes the costumed revelry of sexed-up chaotica.

Clearly, sex and gender are fundamental themes in these artists’ creative practices. Their treatments of the same, however, are far from facile. We went right to the sources for the how and the why of all that, and to find out where we can see works by these artists in the coming months.

love in the ruins;  sex over 50  (image 0230) by Susan Silas

Susan Silas

I have been asked if my images are erotic. How can I know if they are erotic for anyone else? I have been asked if my images are pornography. For me, pornography is defined by how an image is used and not by what it depicts. In the Christian tradition, ecstasy is closely associated with death. If ecstasy is a moment of lost consciousness or absence from one’s self, or if full self-presence and absence are difficult to tease apart, then in photography, it is presence before light captured on film that creates the image of the absent subject in the document of their presence in the photograph. love in the ruins: sex over 50 represents a part of my overall preoccupation with the singularity, fragility and finitude of sentient being. My work, THE SPECIMEN DRAWER, will be on exhibit at the University of Miami CAS Gallery in March, 2015. Please also see



Three Figures by Pamela Butler

Pamela Butler

I see my work not as a direct investigation of sex and gender, but of the relationship of sex and gender to the overall dynamic of how an individual finds agency in the world. I seek out images that expose myths that lurk below our conscious awareness, governing much of our understandings of sex, gender and, beyond that, of cultural hierarchy, agency, and power dynamics. My work is currently focused on sexualized iconic females from the canon of modern western painting, and on how these images play into our overall cultural myth-making and how these myths affect me as a female painter in this tradition. In April I’ll be in a group show curated by Larry Walczak at Schema Projects, in Bushwick. My Good Girl Book is for sale at Printed Matter, Blonde Art Books and online. And there are lots of images and info on my website,



Goyette as Lobsta Blue in “Masshole Love”

Rebecca Goyette

Artists have always created depictions of sex. Sex is the most fundamental human interaction, yet the sexual image in art is taboo and controversial. I make direct sexual imagery; my costumed porn videos, erotic sculptural objects, and paintings purposely play their sexual hand on first read. But creating these works necessitates negotiation with intimacy, boundaries and trust between myself and my co-conspirators as we push ourselves and the audience’s comfort zone. The inner layers of my works deal with positive/negative emotions that come up from the sex act: ecstasy, self-love, love of the “other,” shyness/bravado, vulnerability/power, and alienation. I do this to tackle our implicit puritanism—to connect with and include our human nature in the conversation of art. I show my work at Freight & Volume Gallery in Chelsea, and I have a lot in the works for 2015. Look me up on, Vimeo and Facebook for updates!



On Beauty, install/ performance shot by Ventiko


Modifications of behavior, thoughts, assumptions and expectations are most plausible in fabricated realities. I encourage removal of the day-to-day self by using a safe space (on set) to question possibilities of alternative selves through the manipulation of the human body, the use of personas, and the exploitation of both sexuality and sensuality. To further explore this last year (at Select Fair, during Art Basel in Miami), I produced a 28-foot site-specific installation and live photographic spectacle featuring a Real Doll, nudes and live peacocks, titled On Beauty. It was indeed disheartening that most audience reactions reinforced current social constructs of gender and femininity. The resulting images will be unveiled this year during Sanctum Sanctorum, a pop up residency this spring in NYC. I will have more exhibitions, but I’m most excited about my new partnership with Mariposa Foundation for Girls in the Dominican Republic, whose goal is to actively end generational poverty, alter traditional gender roles and reform practices involving child-brides.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

01/28/15 6:45pm
01/28/2015 6:45 PM |
One of the photographs in Alexa Hoyer's show at Fresh Window Gallery. Image courtesy the artist and Fresh Window Gallery.

Fresh Window, 56 Bogart St., lower level, through February 6th
Visually bound to one another by consistently placed horizon lines, centerpieced subjects, and commonly littered, almost audibly crusty earth-scapes stretching from full-focused foregrounds to hintermost hinterlands, Alexa Hoyer’s large, pristinely presented photographs allow one to behold with absolute proximity a range of devastated objects that anonymous others had previously beheld at considerable distances—perhaps through scopes, one eye shut tight, all stillness and composure, and all the while breathing long and steady before exhaling into the rocketing blast of a fired bullet. These objects, in other words, are discarded gun targets, and their setting is the blissfully bleak desert lands circumscribing Las Vegas. Intimate, becalming, cinematic and slightly amusing, these images are also ever-so-slightly unsettling as one imagines the inherent perils, however vanished, of their circumstances. To be sure, this body of work takes a very hard look at variable notions of looking hard. And to be sure, Hoyer’s eye and aim, with Targets, are right on point.

A glimpse of Rivero's show at Shin Gallery.

Shin Gallery, 322 Grand St., through February 28th
Kenny Rivero’s captivating solo exhibit is full of surprises that are not exactly stunning, terrors that aren’t really scary, notes of humor that aren’t necessarily funny, fantastical figments that are actually just real, and barely nightmarish murmurs that hum, also, in tones of just-awoken awareness, such that the dream is at once active and over. I Can Love You Better, that is, amounts to a wonderful walk through the fanciful normalities and quotidian strangenesses of dreams—or of the blurred focus and liminal discomforts of what it looks and feels like to be dreaming. Encompassing paintings and drawings in various material formats and states of completeness, as well as sculptures and detail-enhancing, habitat-crafting installations, Rivero’s excellent show is billed as evocations of and meditations on childhood experiences, but it doesn’t feel at all quite so insularly personal. And that’s a good thing. Go with eyes wide open and let the works lure you in while lulling you deeply into some cognitive elsewhere. But watch your step. Those very real shards of glass will wake you all the way up.

Big turnout for the opening of another big show at BRIC.

Gallery at BRIC House, 647 Fulton St., through February 8th
It might not exactly be BRIC’s official mandate to consistently and dramatically outperform the Brooklyn Museum when it comes to embracing, promoting, celebrating and showing Brooklyn art, but it seems they have a certain tendency to do so. Their new BRIC Biennial series, for instance, is more or less conceived thusly; launched last year, its democratic aims and claims of eventual borough-wide inclusiveness are both apparently sincere and patently promising. Another great example of BRIC’s unstated modus operandi is their first show of 2015, OPEN (C)ALL: The Artist’s Studio, in which all of the artists in the BRIC registry were invited to submit work. From the look of things, they might well have included it all, as the range of mediums, means and, in qualitative terms, levels of expertise run a very broad gamut. But such massive range, broadly interpreted, is essentially what they’re going for here, and there’s much to be lauded about that—and there are many strong works filling up their space thanks to precisely the same approach. Ignore the clunkiness of the title, enjoy the chunkiness of the show.

A work by John Singer Sargent on view at The Frick. Image courtesy Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh © Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland.

The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th St., through February 1st
Comprising works by Botticelli, El Greco, Velázquez, Watteau, Gainsborough and Constable, among others, this touring exhibition—one intended to morph slightly as it travels along to San Francisco and Fort Worth early next year—is housed very well, for now, at The Frick, where the ten pieces on loan, whose dates of production span nearly half a millennium, are displayed with a sympathetic coterie of works by the same and other artists selected from the Frick’s permanent collection. A certain John Singer Sargent work alone might entice you to see the show, for instance, as it’s long been close to your heart thanks to the cover of a Henry James paperback you’ve had since middle school. Or perhaps the Botticelli—the first piece by the Florentine artist to ever be shown in these rooms—will lure you to the museum with its lore. Per the press release, his Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child has never been seen “on public view” in the US. One wonders, then, where and when it might have been seen in private. A fine bit of intrigue, that. This special show has been up for a few months at this point, but you still have a few days to see it—or rather, to be sure not to miss it.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

01/28/15 12:35pm
Photographs by Paul D'Agostino

It seemed somewhat all of a sudden that the 1717 Troutman warehouse transitioned from a studio building frequently abustle with the traffickings of a half dozen or so exhibition spaces, to one entirely devoid of gallery activities. This happened last summer, of course, so it’s old news by now. Since then, Regina Rex has set up shop on the Lower East Side. Harbor joined them over there by conjoining with them—indeed, within them. Parallel went perpendicular, so to speak, and folded with sighs of well-deserved pride. Ortega y Gasset Projects and Underdonk are up to something, somewhere, probably. And what ever became of Bull & Ram, by the by? (more…)

01/14/15 6:49pm
01/14/2015 6:49 PM |


Innovation is the theme for this issue of The L Magazine, our first of 2015. With that in mind, we thought it would be fitting to highlight some forthcoming museum exhibitions related to various sorts of newnesses past and present—from revelatory to reinvigorated, from innovative to renovative, from the never-before-seen to the now-reconsidered. Open up your journals and calendars—new ones, perhaps, or your same old apps—and mark them up accordingly.


12/31/14 6:05pm
12/31/2014 6:05 PM |
Photographs by Vincent Romaniello


This issue’s release date falls on the very last day of 2014, making it slightly tardy for best-of-year listings and a bit premature for previews related to spring. We decided to both seize and celebrate this junctural moment—collaboratively and in Janus-like fashion, looking backwards and forwards at once—by asking a group of artists, writers and curators to weigh in on their favorite exhibitions and other arts-related occurrences from the year that is now concluding, and to make a few notes or predictions for the new year that is now commencing. Also, since our last issue featured a selection of Brooklyn-centric art highlights, this roundup is arrayed all around town—as well as a wee bit beyond.


12/30/14 8:02pm
12/30/2014 8:02 PM |
Artwork: Ragna Róbertsdóttir. Lava Landscape, 2014. Photograph: Eileen Travell, Scandinavia House/The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 2014.

A seasonably seasoned mix of Editor’s Picks culled with chromatics and countdowns in mind. On that latter note, happy New Year!

Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue at 38th Street, through January 10th
Relatively small and somewhat obligatorily sparsely populated, the landmass and nation a bit misleadingly referred to—per geopolitical lore of yore—as Iceland is a place with more than its fair share of terrestrial curiosities, seasonal extremes, atmospheric splendor, and visually bewildering geological wonders. No wonder, then, that artists working in all types of mediums and expressive modes seek to somehow harness and convey some of this charmed terrain’s most alluring aspects. The show Iceland: Artists Respond to Place—a special group exhibit featuring the work of Egill Sæbjörnsson, Katrín Sigurðardóttir, Olafur Eliasson, Georg Guðni Hauksson, Einar Falur Ingólfsson, Birgir Andrésson, Guðrún Einarsdóttir, Guðjón Ketilsson, Eggert Pétursson, Ragna Róbertsdóttir and Þórdís Alda Sigurðardóttir—pays testimony to such creative tendencies with a range of chromatically, topographically, even materially appropriative, largely turf-reflective pieces. One might say that these artists’ homeland is their muse, but it might be more accurate to call it their palette. The island itself, after all, is rather shaped like one.

The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Ave., through January 31st and 11th, respectively
You have a couple excellent reasons to make a pilgrimage to The Morgan at the outset of the new year. One is the Cy Twombly exhibition, Treatise on the Veil, an exquisite and instructive display of the second iteration of the artist’s eponymous masterpiece—a massive, musically imbued yet chromatically somber work over ten yards long that the artist made in Rome in the 1970’s—accompanied by a nearly show-stealing suite of preparatory drawings related to the painting’s execution. Your other exhibitional reason, similarly epic in scale and conceptual scope, is Spencer Finch’s A Certain Slant of Light, a site-specific work we first recommended several months ago for its calendric chromatic shifts and now precisely configured, now coincidental aesthetics. This latter piece is up for a couple more weeks. The former, until the end of the month. Head to The Morgan soon to indulge in the vacillatory beauties of both.

New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, Nov. 21st through Feb. 22nd
This might not be the only grand showcasing of model trains and their many splendid accoutrements coming to NYC this holiday season, but it might well be the most robustly arrayed and envisioned among them all—from the 150-piece exhibition’s spatial extent, taking up a great deal of the museum’s first floor, to its many constituent mediums including theatrical lighting, multimedia screens and a soundscape. What’s more, this grand train isn’t the only marquee item in the show. There are also aircraft, ships, boats and buildings galore, as well as some particularly precious hand-painted toys. Recently acquired by the New-York Historical Society, all of these marvels of model-making and toy-craft were gathered over a half century by Jerry and Nina Greene (hence ‘Jerni Collection’). It’s almost disconcertingly hard to fathom what children’s playtime might have been like in such a household—or adults’ playtime, for that matter—but checking out this show will rather easily stir the imagination into felicitous places.

Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Ave., through January 7th
Amounting to a most fitting follow-up to the museum’s recent showing of Italian Futurism, ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow—such an apropos title to bear in mind toward the end of a year—pays tribute to an initially German, then later widely international art movement whose participants’ aesthetic interests pertained to the repositioning of art—and its potentially redefinable practitioners—in the wake of World War II. Paintings and installations, films and photographs, sculptures and zines, the works in this show—by forty artists, in sum, from ten countries—cover a broad range of styles and practices, all the while conveying their crafters’ common ambition to rupture borders, break through walls, push envelopes, propose new challenges.

Follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

Einar Falur Ingólfsson. By Lake Þingvellir, from the series Skjol/Shelters, 2012. C-print, 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm). At Scandinavia House.
12/17/14 1:15pm
12/17/2014 1:15 PM |


All Photos by Paul D’Agostino unless otherwise noted.

A selection of standout art exhibits and events from around the borough. The list is carefully considered, of course, but please note that keeping it to eight means it’s far from exhaustive. Note also that it’s in no particular order.

The Sea Is a Big Green Lens
David Henderson and Douglas Henderson at Studio 10

This exhibit, a collaboration between sculptor David Henderson and his brother, sound artist Douglas Henderson, began to sing its evocatively echoey, sometimes seafaringly sonorous, always acoustically interferometric song of meta-spatial surge and solitude as one year transitioned into the next—a matter of merely calendric convenience, perhaps, but also one that was well befitting of the exhibit’s inherent material and conceptual liminalities. While David’s tiers of variably scaled, uniformly shaped sculptures trumpeted about with nearly comic visual presence throughout the space—as if scores of oversized golf tees were frozen at a moment of most energetic invasion or egress—Douglas’s sound score swirled around, intoned and skipped about among a dozen or so painstakingly placed speakers. Inspired by “Whitesounds,” a poem by Paul Celan, this ocean of a great show, complete with its sonically implied ‘green lens’ in the middle, was a superbly wavy way for Studio 10 to ring in the new year—and to set it quite positively aripple.


Off Line On Mark & Lil’ Art World
Parallel Art Space & Harbor Gallery

Parallel, Harbor and the several other galleries that used to carry the 1717 Troutman Street address weren’t planning to move out of the increasingly galleriphobic studio building with great immediacy, so finding out around midyear that their time was basically up was a programmatic bummer for all evacuated parties—even if not exactly a total surprise, given the landlord’s cantankerousness that not even his offers of questionably fresh refreshments during Bushwick Open Studios (call it Cookie-gate) could obscure. Parallel and Harbor, even without planning their final shows as farewell exhibitions, put together some excellently serendipitous swan songs all the same. Parallel tapped into collective memories personal and formal alike to put together a show that might well have functioned, at some later date, as the space’s own on-site retrospective. Harbor, meanwhile, assembled a show of variably art-space-reflective pieces in the various spaces of their space. One of those pieces happened to be a wall-bound fabrication of the 1717 Troutman building itself—hanging in the metaphorical balance, as it were, well before trails of cookie crumbs would litter the incipient summer.


Bay Ridge Storefront Art Walk
5h Avenue, Bay Ridge

With so many mediums represented in such a casually public way, and with so many artists and entrepreneurial agents involved as site-specific creators and art-friendly hosts, Bay Ridge SAW would be a highlight among Brooklyn-based arts initiatives even if it weren’t particularly piquant, as far as aesthetic interventions go, given its not-quite-art-neighborhood environs. Fifteen artists collaborated with everything from bakeries to tuxedo stores in this year’s iteration, and Bay Ridge SAW once again emphasized a very important point: Neighborhoods needn’t necessarily be taken over by resident artists to occasionally enjoy the fruits of their labors. As such, we suggest that a few artists collaborate with some of 5th Avenue’s many produce stands next year. All those price signs poking up out of bins of tomatoes, pears, peaches and the like are kind of wasted real estate as potential paintings, after all, right?

Photo above by Michelle Hernandez, courtesy Norte Maar. (C) Michelle Hernandez.

The Brooklyn Performance Combine
Norte Maar at The Brooklyn Museum

Neither secret nor ultimately incendiary, albeit definitively sneaky and cheekily rebellious, this performative mash-up of dancers, artists, musicians, writers, and critics—with a handful audience members thrown into the mix as well—was Jason Andrew’s Norte Maar-powered vehicle for underscoring how The Brooklyn Museum’s Crossing Brooklyn exhibition was a mammoth ball-dropper in terms of being inclusive enough—aesthetically, numerically, organizationally—to merit its own title. Tepid though not totally bad—there were some great artists on the roster, after all, and a few excellent works—Crossing Brooklyn could’ve, indeed should’ve been so much more. Well, Norte Maar came in through the back door to prove precisely that point. In the historic Beaux-Arts Court, no less. (Disclaimer: This writer factored into the show in a very minor manner. But his self-ascribed role as garbage-target was fundamentally throwaway, and he lost a piece of his knee in the process, so please let the sleeping dog lie.)


Bushwick Open Studios 2014

It seems almost beside the point to say that BOS was a bigger beast than ever this year, because that’s what it’s generally been from one year to the next since its inception nearly a decade ago. Its organizers at Arts In Bushwick don’t want ever-bigger to override consistently better, though, so although that latter qualifier held true this year as well, the beloved festival’s participants and visitors alike might have seen the last thusly gargantuan BOS in 2014. If that’s true and next year’s affair is reined in somehow, BOS in all its stretched-out sizes will have always been a remarkably successful blast—from its earliest flickers and sparks all the way to critical mass. No matter what it form it might take in 2015, rest assured that meltdown is not in the cards.


It Ain’t What You Make, It’s What Makes You Do It
Valentine Gallery

The almost rhythmically chaotic din of variably vocal and loudly kinetic bric-a-brac could nearly be heard from across the street while this show was up from latter spring to early summer, such that visitors could be led to believe they might be entering a carnival, a fracas, a flailing concert, a circus. Featuring a dancing centerpiece by Dennis Oppenheim alongside whirring, buzzing, spinning, and singing accoutrements by a crew of more or less self-proclaimed Oppenheimians—Gregory Barsamian, Charlotte Becket, Guy Ben-Ner, Mark Esper, Jon Kessler, Jeffrey Allen Price, Jude Tallichet, and Mary Ziegler—this exhibit was tons of fun in many poly-sensory ways. It was quite immediately funny, too, especially if you happened to walk in when gallerist Fred Valentine was there by himself, milling about with contained erraticism, arms crossed, giggling beneath the noise, basically unfazed.


Collaborative Pageantry & So Forth
QWERTY & Franks Bobbins Institue at Brooklyn Fire Proof

Danish arts collective QWERTY and UK-based Frank Bobbins Institute (a.k.a. F.B.I.), geographico-spatial partners in crime thanks to the organizational aegis of Exchange Rates: The Bushwick International Expo, came all the way over here to fill a nether-nooked room at Brooklyn Fire Proof with enough creative verve, energy, range of skill and unabated mirth that their tireless troupe of artists, performers and sartorial wizards might well have taken over the whole borough—if only they’d been around a wee bit longer, or if only their suitcases were a wee bit larger. And what a maniacally happy, chromatically soaring, exuberantly clad borough our County of Kings, under their rule, would be! The Swiss Guard would finally have real competition, we reckon, and this writer would be happy to play the role of village idiot to round out the imaginable mix of trumpeters, squires, flag-bearers and town criers they might require to discourage order in their realm.


Et Cetera

We said we’d try hard to keep our list of Brooklyn art highlights from getting too long or unwieldy—or whatever, we said we’d keep it to a good mix of eight shows and events. But if we could go on a bit longer, some items we’d certainly include are Danh Vo’s deconstructively Statue of Liberty-inspired sculptures around the Brooklyn Bridge; the open studio events in Greenpoint, Dumbo and Gowanus; Henry Sanchez’s far too short-lived exhibit at Momenta Art, which amounted to a deeply researched installation proposing eco-friendly ways to beautify and cleanse Newtown Creek; NurtureArt’s Multiplicity show that bridged various venues from Bushwick to Manhattan via urban-aesthetic issues and thematics; Norm Paris’s and Vince Contarino’s strong solo shows at TSA; the prepositionally pliable Of Landscape at Reverse; Art Helix’s spatially clever, spiritually pacifying empty-lot enlivenment fenced in, both literally and figuratively, by the moniker Appalach-wick; and A Lot of Sorrow, the six-hour, endurance-heavy video collaboration between The National and Ragnar Kjartansson at Luhring Augustine Bushwick. This latter show, by the way, is still on view (through December 21st). Take note that its endearing sadnesses, however blatantly stated and repeated, are of the sort that will likely lift, rather than dampen, your holiday spirits. That musically leavened mood might even ripple along, like certain items echoed in lists, to carry you quasi-cathartically into 2015.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

12/06/14 7:53pm
12/06/2014 7:53 PM |
A glimpse of some of the good stuff on which you might chew at Valentine.

Valentine Gallery, 464 Seneca Ave., through December 21st
Over the four or so years he’s been running his gallery, Fred Valentine has assembled shows of such extensive material range that reflecting thereupon conjures something akin to a wackily immense cornucopia brimming with smaller cornucopias overflowing with stuff made of stuff, surrounded by other stuff, things and stuff, hefty things, hella stuff—hella broad-ranging exhibitions and artworks, that is, and often fetching, and never too stuffy to not get also a bit messy. But if there’s one kind of work that seems to enthuse him the most, it’s materially rich, thick, heavily handled, readily chewy paintings, and his current show—a couple dozen or so works by Peter Acheson, Yevgeniya Baras, Andrew Baron and Gaby Collins-Fernandez—features a plentiful plenty of all that. A somewhat large, rather low-hung composition, for instance, will paint your thoughts pleasantly brown with its unrelenting palette. More toothsome pieces here and there, then, will put Starburst candies in your eyes’ mouth—while even stickier others will cram it full of Now and Laters. If you feel up to filling your maw even more while chewing, head straight to the gift shop to chow down on, among other things, some small-scale, hugely toothy works by the master of chew, Matthew Blackwell. You might even find a couple gummy treats in there by Mr. V. himself. Per his norm, for certain, he’s filled his place with great stuff.

The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th St., through February 1st
Comprising works by Botticelli, El Greco, Velázquez, Watteau, Gainsborough and Constable, among others, this touring exhibition—one intended to morph slightly as it travels along to San Francisco and Fort Worth early next year—is housed very well, for now, at The Frick, where the ten pieces on loan, whose dates of production span nearly half a millennium, are displayed with a sympathetic coterie of works by the same and other artists selected from the Frick’s permanent collection. A certain John Singer Sargent alone might entice you to see the show, for instance, as it’s long been close to your heart thanks to the cover of a Henry James paperback. Or perhaps the Botticelli, the first piece of his to ever be shown in these rooms, might lure you to the museum with its lore. Per the press release, his Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child has never been seen “on public view” in the US. One wonders, then, where and when it might have been seen in private. A fine bit of intrigue, that. What’s more, this particular work by the Florentine so well known for dancing ladies and flowing locks is a particularly relevant one to pay pilgrimage to in December.

One of Bollinger's more 19th-century-novel type paintings at Zürcher.

Galerie Zürcher, 33 Bleeker St., through January 26th
Bibliophiles are not invariably avid readers, nor are the latter invariably also the former, yet all such parties will find themselves variably at home—as well as indirectly reflected, and perhaps also ever-so-slightly mortified—while viewing Reading Rooms, Matt Bollinger’s solo exhibition of mixed-media paintings ranging from 19th-century-novel-large to flash-fiction-in-lit-mag-small. In works made in Flashe and acrylic with plentiful collaged additions for both textural and contextual grit, Bollinger presents a couple grandiose centerpieces to set the stage—two wall-consuming, unstretched and thus tapestry-like canvases depicting bookstores or quaint libraries in mixed states of disorder, devastation, desuetude—alongside dozens of smaller works that might be viewed as instants, actions and details extracted from so many elsewhere-encountered bound volumes. So many plots to be imagined or summarized. So many protagonists to be placed therewithin. So many curious moments suggestive of denouements. Pay Bollinger’s show a visit and choose your own adventure.

Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, 54 Ludlow St., through December 8th
We recommended this show about a month ago already, but its nice long run still gives you several days to pay it a visit—and perhaps under more titularly fitting skies as well. One of the artists in this magazine’s 2014 group of five Brooklyn-based ones to keep an eye on, Tamara Gonzales has put together a new solo show that’s a winner in ways we expected and ways we didn’t. Here, not only has she leavened her palette a bit to make the works at once formally lighter yet graver in mood, she has also extended her dimensions in certain ways by incorporating instances of somewhat more materially involved, or at least more materially manifest—for the materials involved in her processes of meta-stenciling and layering are several more than a few—compositional relief, taking her takes on stratification to different depths. The title of her show and chilled palette might evidence a degree of inspiration hailing from Game of Thrones, but if the governing sentiment in that world is “all men must die,” then the edict in this one should direct all persons to simply go see Gonzales’ show.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

12/03/14 4:15am
12/03/2014 4:15 AM |
Photo courtesy of ProjectArt


Frustrated by the lack of easy access to art education in New York City’s public schools, Adarsh Alphons rented some office space in Harlem and launched ProjectArt, a largely passion-driven operation for the promotion of arts initiatives and creative endeavors for young New Yorkers. That was three years ago. Since then, ProjectArt, working with New York’s public libraries, has encouraged and channeled the creative energies of hundreds of kids, many of them from low-income neighborhoods, and extended its presence all over the city. What’s more, ProjectArt’s students, teachers, and organizers have also mounted a number of exhibitions in NYC galleries. They’ve even had a booth at Pulse Art Fair. We asked Adarsh to answer a few questions about his laudable organization as he works with his team to prepare their next big event, Project Exhibition 11, a one-night showing of works by 150 students, ages 4-17, that will be hosted by Denise Bibro Fine Art in Chelsea.


What was the initial catalyst three years ago? How did it all start? What were some major obstacles or crucial endorsements?

ProjectArt was founded three years ago because I truly believe that art can save lives. I was expelled from school when I was seven years old for underperforming in academics and drawing in every class. My parents put me in a different school, and by the time I was 15, I was painting portraits for Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and the Pope, all because one art teacher recognized my passion for art, encouraged my aptitude, and believed in me. Art opened new doors and helped me work through setbacks as a young adult. Having lived in a low-income NYC neighborhood and seen myself in the youth there, I wanted to make sure they have the opportunities that will help them work through their personal challenges and stay in school, while giving them an outlet to express themselves creatively and constructively. In a short span of time, ProjectArt has become the fastest growing national solution to the arts education crisis, with 14 sites citywide.


Describe the current mix of ProjectArt’s activities and venues. Are certain types of classes or gatherings located in certain boroughs?

ProjectArt’s model is easy to replicate and infinitely scalable. We aim to create a ripple effect of cultural engagement and community-building in libraries by offering free art classes for youth with curriculums that are reflective of their traditions and community. Furthermore, celebrating the students’ work via exhibitions, we give youth insights into the art world. Currently, we offer free art classes for children and youth in 14 public library locations: seven branches in Brooklyn, in Bushwick, Prospect Heights, Flatbush, Brownsville, Arlington, Saratoga and Cypress Hills; three in Queens, in Corona, Steinway, Broadway and Forest Hills; two in the Bronx, in Grand Concourse and Hunt’s Point; and one in Harlem, in Hamilton Grange. Offering art classes as an option for children is a great way to address numerous aspects of a youth’s development, while spurring excitement and achievement at one of our nation’s oldest and most significant institutions its public libraries.


One of your next huge agenda items is Project Exhibition 11. Care to highlight a few things about this special show, one that will most certainly double as a great holiday gift for all involved?

We are thrilled to announce Project Exhibition 11, a special, one-night-only exhibition and reception celebrating the work of our students from across the city. It’s completely free and open to the public, and we really hope to have a great show of support for the kids. A majority of our students have never been to an art gallery before, so one can just imagine the feeling of seeing their art on a gallery’s walls. It’s an experience that the child will very likely never forget. If you’re looking to support a charity this holiday season, think about ProjectArt and the value of creativity in kids’ lives. Following one of our recent exhibitions, a student walked up to me and said, “ProjectArt is the best thing to ever happen to me.” It’s inspiring!


What’s on the horizon for ProjectArt programming in 2015?

In 2015, we are going to further expand our reach by opening approximately ten more locations, including in Staten Island. By the end of next year or early 2016, we will be in 26 public libraries—and in virtually every neighborhood in NYC that has a serious lack of access to arts education. At the same time, we hope to foster a public discourse on the pivotal necessity of arts education in a child’s life. Once we are able to sustain operations in our city’s 26 branches, our goal is to bring ProjectArt’s scalable model to other large metropolitan areas. Every metro in the US has a public library network. Public libraries are an undervalued and underused resource, and due to their existing infrastructure and locations, they have tremendous potential to directly impact communities in a highly cost-effective way. Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, and L.A. are great prospects for ProjectArt’s next moves.

Project Exhibition 11 will be held on Tuesday, December 16th, from 6-8pm, at Denise Bibro Fine Art, located in Chelsea at 529 West 20th St, 4W. More information about ProjectArt, including ways in which you might get involved, at

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

11/21/14 11:01pm
11/21/2014 11:01 PM |

Developed by a British company known as Surrey Nanosystems, Vantablack is a “superblack” substance made of carbon nanotubes. It’s considered the world’s darkest material, its chasmic blackness so deep and visually bewildering that its application to three dimensions appears to flatten them into two. Albeit not breaking news—its creation was announced several months ago—Vantablack’s existence is deeply cool. What’s more, it is also a very rich substance for pondering potential uses, artistic and otherwise, which recently prompted this writer to encourage others to do the same, prefaced more or less as such:

Prediction: Someone, sooner or later—in which ‘someone’ will almost certainly be some super-rich artist—will acquire enough Vantablack to coat the interior of, say, some big gallery, then just dangle a light somewhere in its midst, likely outfitted with one of those vintage-filament bulbs, so that a lone gallery visitor will be able to perceive nothing in the space except for the illumination. No walls, no corners, no depth, nothing. Just a light. This person will probably call it a ‘painting,’ and people will flock to and celebrate it much like they did Rain Room. Maybe Marina Abramovic will be that artist—she fits the wealth criteria, at least—and she’ll bill it as the inverse of her current show in Chelsea. Perhaps she’d also lurk about the space cloaked in a Vantablack dress. People will cry, laugh, change their lives, etc. The entertaining potential of its use in sculpture is as much a no-brainer as its potential for military use. Anyway, it’s loads of fun to think about ways to use Vantablack for art, or ‘art,’ or pranks, or whatever. It’s also fun to think about what kind of meaning it could impart to, say, existentialist discourse—life’s meaninglessness visio-physically equated with apparent dimensionlessness, finally!—or about the wonderful functions it could have for haunted houses, meditation rooms, candle-lit dinners and, naturally, heavy metal concerts. And skateboard parks. And tree houses. And sports. And furniture. Perhaps also electoral campaigns. And so on.

Of course, one of the first things I learned upon sharing this prompt was that my conjectural ‘someone’ already exists, Anish Kapoor. I mean, Sir Anish Kapoor. (Super-rich? Check. Thanks, Andrew Prayzner, for alerting me.) Still, Kapoor’s plan to use Vantablack in his work makes it no less fun for those of us whose pockets aren’t Vantablack-deep to make both serious and preposterous proposals. Because really, however brilliantly anyone uses it, much of the yields’ brilliance—or brilliant anti-brilliance, in this case?—should be attributed to the material itself—e.g. Chamber of Devastation, Joy and Sprained Ankles, by Someone Somewhere and Surrey Nanosystems, dimensions variable (!), 2014.

And now for the ideas of several others, mostly Brooklyn-based creatives:

Timothy Shaw: The first thing I thought of was using it on an ice skating rink, but it would probably wouldn’t work with the ice. Maybe a roller rink? Just have a big black ‘hole’ in the middle?

Susan Surface: I’d make artwork that addresses race and racial profiling. It could be a powerful metaphor to use a material that transforms things so that no matter what is underneath, all you can see is the blackness.

Oliver Jones: In the immediate lead up to the Civil War, there was a pro-Union, martial protest movement called the “Wide Awakes.” They would just appear on city streets, unannounced, in the middle of the night. No banners declaring their purpose or allegiance. Just torches and shiny, black capes and hats, torches blazing. Their presence was, an omen of a war looming. With access to plentiful quantities of Vantablack, I would set out to create a piece of public intervention, the blackest block imaginable. Protests are typically based on increasing visibility, but the tropes of protests are so clichéd, and the state apparatus is so designed to control them, that they barely register anymore. So how about a protest of invisibility? An absence so jarring it becomes a presence? Like John Galt but for poor people. A uniform to replace all the Guy Fawkes masks. The rallying cry of a new generation: Disappear in the Streets!

Liz Atzberger: I would love to get my hands on this stuff to actually learn its properties, but until then, I’d make a flat Vantablack painting with hidden (made in China) cell phone jammer (pictured, image courtesy the artist).

Elisa Jensen: Vantablack is the opposite of gold leaf in byzantine art—gold leaf being the light of God, the holy space (now many artists use glitter hoping for the same effect). Vantablack is the near absence of light, so for me it is a metaphor for death. What else sucks in all light and holds it, hides it away? Finally it is a substance of death, of stealth, and warfare. My idea for the use of an infinite amount of Vantablack is to burn it in a giant pyre. A sort of Viking funeral, and a grand one it would be.

Jonathan Quinn: A twin-blade fan spins in front of a strobe light timed to blink between the passage of the two white blades. In front of the fan —at a right angle and positioned dead-center—is an irregular rectangular surface that resembles a (frozen in time) flag waving in the breeze. Both sides of the surface are coated with Vantablack. As the fan spins the light from the strobe rocks back and forth on either side of the rectangle.

Chris D’Acunto: My first thought would be to do some sort of Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner black hole tunnel sort of art piece on a highly textured surface, perhaps a brick wall. I think it would be real funny. But as we all know when dealing with anything in the creative process, the truly great ideas arise in the reflexive and spontaneous moments of when you have the material in your hands.

Vincent Romaniello: In the interest of wordplay, I’d make a sculpture of Vanna White and coat it in Vantablack. It would be Vanna White as Vantablack, and vice-versa. I guess I’d just have to spin the Wheel and ask Chuck for a T. Also, I make sculptures of drones out of cardboard. Coating those in Vantablack could be fun.

Marcy Rosenblat: For me, to be able to see nothing in space but light is heavenly. My idea is simple. In keeping with what I’m most drawn to in my own painting—which is usually something covered or being slightly revealed—I couldn’t help but think of the the pure delight of being able to have layers of screen-like pattern (in my case I’d use a mundane paper towel pattern) to create a magical web of light coming out of the ultra black space.

Carey Maxon: I would use Vantablack to make a dot installation in Madison Square Park. I would also use it to make tiny table-sized dot sculptures. Some would be compositions set by me, and some would be sold as a set of dots for anyone to play with, a meditation object similar to the sand tray. As I am a painter, I would also research if this material can be used to paint dots.

Vincent Como: My thinking is really to allow the material to be simply be the material and intervene as little as possible. I would ideally create a modest-sized ‘painting,’ possibly scaled to the same dimensions of something historically significant like the Mona Lisa, in order to showcase the material as a beautiful and intimate object of pure darkness. Were I able to do this, and then exhibit the piece, it would be the only thing on display. One small excruciatingly black painting in a room.

Andrew Prayzner: For a performance sketch I would paint the entire stage with the pigment including the outer edges toward the audience. Typical black pigments tend to reflect projected light. With the Vantablack, a projection of light, in this case backlit on a movable screen from a central location on the stage, would appear to float in the middle of the set in a sea of black (not unlike a James Turrell piece). The projection would “hover” for a while, then move downstage toward the audience and appear to grow. The colors of the projected light would alter slightly from warmer orange reds to cool white-yellows. Dancers dressed in Vantablack Morphsuits would emerge and move around the projection at various counts. The projection would then move back upstage and begin to dim and eventually fade to black(!).

Okay, Sir Kapoor. Your turn!

(In the meantime, Vantablack holiday decorations, perhaps? T’would be extra fun to unstuff such stockings, especially if laden with lumps of coal.)

Follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio