Sunday, 27 March 2011

Gallery Tour March 2010: Lower East Side

It's hard to believe that just 5-years ago there were only 10 art galleries on the Lower East Side; since they seem to be dotted all over the neighborhood now. Apparently there are somewhere in the region of 100 galleries now and the Lower East Side tour has rapidly become the second most popular tour offered by NYgallerytours, although to be honest I would prefer it if they were a little less popular - I overheard someone say there were 73 people on Saturday's tour - since some of the LES galleries are absolutely tiny and it was impossible to see the art with everyone crammed into the the gallery space, it was challenging even in the 4 larger spaces that were first on the list and, after the first 2 stops, I left for the next gallery 5-minutes or so ahead of the pack in an effort to get unobstructed views of the work.

First up was the Barnaby Hosking exhibit at the Charles Bank Gallery at 196 Bowery, the British artist's first solo show in New York, whose work plays with the idea of thought and perception.

There was a lot to love in this exhibit, but my absolutely favourite pieces were these bronze half butterflies that were embedded in the wall which reflected the light to form the whole insect.

From the gallery press release, 'the butterflies serve as an analogy of our thoughts which hold both the positive and the negative - a duality, which is highlighted by the both luminous and dark sides of the individual butterflies."

To be honest I just thought they were pretty, but then I'm a bit of a neophyte with all this art gubbins.

Next up was Laurie Simmons at the satellite location of fancy pants Upper East Side gallery Salon 94 at 243 Bowery. I wasn't familiar with her work, although I am familiar with the work of her husband, the painter Carroll Dunham, but much of her work apparently involves staging dolls in scenes which she then photographs. In her current exhibit, 'The Love Doll: Days 1-30' she purchased a high end sex doll - there is a fascinating BBC America documentary about the men that purchase these dolls, which often cost tens of thousands of dollars. It's eye opening, it really is - and posed her around her own home in everyday scenes.

From this New York Magazine article quoted the artist: "that she was a sex doll was secondary to the fact that I had finally found a Tales of Hoffmann, life-size doll that I could work with, I don’t want to deny that it is used as a masturbation tool. I just chose not to address it. I am amazed that a doll made for this purpose could be rendered so exquisitely. The lines of the body are so refined; it’s a beautiful sculpture.

Okay, brace yourself for the next photo of Evan Penny's exhibit at Sperone Westwater. My Penny is a 57year old South African artist who creates statuesque, and extremely realistic, human figures of cast silicone which have some sort of proportional skew, like this sculpture of Jim that leans slightly to the right and is obviously much larger than the real Jim, friend of the artist apparently, who modeled for this piece.

Evan Penny's pieces are disturbingly realistic, right down to moles and freckles and even the hair in the crack of Jim's arse. I've seen more of Jim than I need to see quite frankly, but there's no denying Mr. Penny's talent.

Fourth on the tour was Angel Otero, a 27 year old Puerto Rican artist who has his first solo show at Lehmann Maupin on Chrystie St. For me the most fascinating this about the work was not the subject matter, but the technique employed. The artist paints an image onto glass which he later gently peels off and drapes it over a frame/canvas (?) to create the final piece.

Standing in front of the image I didn't realize until it was pointed out to me that the image was of a couch. Duh!! It's so obvious from the photo eh, although to be fair I was peering quite closely at the pieces and didn't take the time to stand back and fully appreciate what I was looking at. Lesson learned.

The object in this piece is less obvious, but it's a vase, the purple shape at the bottom.

Next up Elena Herzog's 'Into the fray' showing at the petite husband and wife run gallery, LMAK projects on Eldridge St. Having been to this gallery before I hustled over to get a look at the work ahead of the 72 other people on the tour. It was a crush in the gallery.

The artist is 57 years old and usually known for stapling fabric to a wall which she then rips away and the result is the piece, this time she took a slightly different approach using scaffolding.

The co-owner of the gallery said something about the scaffold statement about architecture and a play on positive and negative, so if you look behind the space a 2-dimensional piece becomes 3-dimensional or something. I don't know to be honest, I was focusing more on not being stood on by the big bloke in front of me to take in all the details.

"Magical" said Rafael "although I know some of you will hate it and can't wait to get out."

I didn't disagree with him there.

Next up was the paintings of Kristine Moran showing at the Nicelle Beauchene Gallery at 21 Orchard St. I loved this work and if I had the money to squander on art I would definitely be opening my wallet.

At first glance the work looks to be abstract, but they are actually figurative, representing women, although I wouldn't have realized had I not been told, but in the piece below you can see what is very clearly a leg on the bottom right.

Last up was the very charming Margot Lovejoy, who was present to discuss her work, Confess, currently showing at the Stephan Stoyanov gallery.

From the artist's website on the work "CONFESS is a web artwork which is a point of collective exchange, a "hot-line" to express publicly but anonymously faults of your own, something you did that you are not proud of --a kind of secular "blind confession". It becomes a form of on-line group therapy as well as an archive of personal narratives. Although one's confession submission is made anonymously, there is also awareness that it will eventually be heard in play-back by a mass audience as a voice in the public domain"

In the gallery the confessions were divided into 7 themes - addiction, violence, secrets, failures, extremes, hate, betrayal - each represented by 2 audio shapes that the artist designed herself. It's a tactile exhibit, with the 14 shapes hanging from the ceiling acting as handsets. You can pick each of them up and listen to someone's confession. It's not a great photo, but you can see a couple of the audio shapes in white and red below. The lady to the right in the blue sweater is the artist.

Apparently she received about a 1,000 submissions in 2 year period. "Are any of the confessions yours?" someone asked Ms. Lovejoy.

"Mine? Ohhhh sure," she said with a smile and a twinkle in her eye.

"Did anyone confess to a crime?"

"There was one, but it wasn't true."

The audio shapes were designed by the artist in an effort to represent the emotional quality of the confession and were designed with people holding them in mind.


Amel said...

Those silicone sculptures make me feel dizzy - but then again I'm having a headache now (gotta take some pill UGH).

My fave: the sex doll and the butterfly. :-)))

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Amel,

Hope you are over the headache. The silicon sculptures were quite creepy up close, but fascinating all the same. The photos of the love doll were beautiful and I loved the butterflies too.


Kitty said...

Oh I love those skewed sculptures. Very cool!

I really had no idea there were so many galleries over there, geez. I have to wonder whether their location was influenced by the New Museum on Bowery.

In general it's a great neighborhood to tour around. Can't imagine being in a group of 73!

Hope you are well Fish. Bundle up!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty,

It's funny, but when you start to look you notice there are galleries everywhere on the Lower East Side, but some of the entrances are so unobtrusive it's easy to walk right by.

You stay warm too Kitty, it's unseasonably nippy in NYC this week eh!! I need some sun.