07/01/15 11:19am
07/01/2015 11:19 AM |
Portrait by Adam Kremer, Courtesy of Topless

Founded last year by Jenni Crain and Brent Birnbaum, Topless Gallery is an estival exhibition project that has done an admirable job of contributing energy, enthusiasm and, of course, art to the many sorts of revitalizing activities that have come to define, at least to some extent, the life and commerce of Rockaway Beach since Hurricane Sandy. By setting up shop for a few months at a time in a different space each year—that’s the case so far, anyway, as last year they were in a former eye doctor’s office, while this year they’re in an abandoned two-story home—the gallery’s directors are as interested in rehabilitating damaged, vacated structures as they are in bringing some sort of regularly programmed arts initiatives to the beach town. The first Topless show of the 2015 season has just opened, and the rest of the summer’s schedule is all planned, so we thought it might be a good moment to check in with Crain and Birnbaum to ask a few questions about last year’s experiences and this year’s agenda.


06/28/15 1:03pm
06/28/2015 1:03 PM |
Photograph by Paul D'Agostino.

In A.F.O.T.D.T.D., Brooklyn artist Jeff Feld’s visually disjunctive, conceptually cohesive solo exhibition at Fresh Window Gallery (through July 26th), the artist presents viewers with a most curious, at first glance perhaps slightly humorous spread of objects that are now familiar, now fundamentally other. On a deeper level, the same pieces also operate as so many metaphors for critically damaged, if not utterly broken, states of affairs—and for how certain modes of communication, commerce, identity and conviviality, or simply life in general, seem to increasingly become, under the ever-questionable banner of progress, quite thoroughly gutted.


06/17/15 11:29am
06/17/2015 11:29 AM |


Part I of this two-part Summer Museum Preview was in our May 20th issue. It featured a selection of exhibitions at a number of Manhattan institutions, including The Whitney, The Met, The Morgan, The Frick, The Rubin Museum of Art, The Museum of Biblical Art, MoMA, and The New-York Historical Society. In terms of borough-related reach, Part II is a bit more expansive, but my operative disclaimer from Part I remains the same: I’m shooting for relative thoroughness, at best, because our fine town is so full of great art and interesting exhibitions—no matter the season—that aiming for exhaustiveness is a fool’s errand. That said, I am fond of walking on my hands, and I’m a decent juggler, and I rather enjoy the feeling of accomplishment attained by running errands… Anyway, read up, mark your calendars, enjoy!


06/03/15 12:10pm
06/03/2015 12:10 PM |


Perhaps you know Green-Wood Cemetery, a 478-acre expanse of rolling, reposeful, halcyon loveliness nestled in the heart of Brooklyn, as the place of rest for figures of certain historical import, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, Bill “The Butcher” Poole, Samuel Morse and William M. “Boss” Tweed. Or maybe you know it as a particularly peaceful place to stroll around on circuitous roads and pathways until you find your way up to the grounds’ higher elevations, from which you can take in wonderful views of New York City and its surrounding waters. Did you know, though, that among Green-Wood’s 560,000 residents are over 5,000 Civil War veterans, including not only revered generals, but also Brooklyn’s first fallen soldier in the Civil War, the 12-year-old “Little Drummer Boy” Clarence MacKenzie? These latter facts are what make Green-Wood such a perfect setting for To Bid You All Good Bye, an exhibition of photographs, letters and other forms of memorabilia that, after 13 years of research and preparation, is now on view in observance of the Sesquicentennial of the end of the Civil War. We spoke with Richard J. Moylan, the President of Green-Wood, and Jeff Richman, Green-Wood’s Historian, to find out more about how this exhibit came to be and what visitors can expect.

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

01/14/15 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.
12/06/14 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