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