It was a day of big sculpture installations and unexpected encounters with friends. Cate ran around with us in Chelsea. We also had a gastro-incident and a gastro-delight: At our usual eatery, Pepe Giallo, the little Italian place at 253 10th Ave, we hadn’t even ordered when our wait person came to us and said they couldn’t take our order because the NY Dept of Health had just walked in to do a surprise kitchen check. We hope they passed. Ever resourceful, we crossed the street and tried Trestle on Tenth at 242 10th (between 24th and 25th). Cate and Roberta had fantastic hamburgers although the fries — with too much season salt — were problematic, and Libby’s dry frittata with a salad on top got a thumbs sideways.
We spotted our former student Megan Bartley-Matthews at Jack Shainman Gallery, which was closed to install Odili Donald Odita’s new show opening the next day. Then we saw Odili, who waved us in for a peek–shiny new works on the walls and a mural that Megan and three other assistants were working on. Odili, who teaches at Tyler, was wearing paint-spattered clothes that matched his colorful paintings–we loved the look, including the striped engineer’s cap.
Odili Donald Odita at Jack Shainman to Dec. 23
Our first really successful stop was Roxy Paine at James Cohan Gallery. The enormous installation, Distillation, mixed industrial systems with circulatory systems and root networks that meandered through the gallery, dwarfing the spaces and us. The whimsical touches of valves and tanks helped alleviate the dark vision of a world gone awry.
Roxy Paine at James Cohan to Dec. 11
We also Erwin Wurm at Lehmann Maupin Gallery. We’re usually big fans of his work. This time he also showed a video, Tell, the highlight of which was a car struggling to mount and then drive up the side of a building. The kinetic tension of mounting the vertical wall was a departure from the deadpan conversation between the man and woman driving around. We liked a few of the sculptures, especially Fountain (above), although the giant crewel words stitched on canvas and the sweater stretched on canvas left us cold.
Erwin Wurm at Lehman Maupin to Dec. 4.
We bumped into Diane Burko and Lenore Malen who were working their way north through Chelsea as we were working our way south. We all spent some time at the Thomas Nozkowski show of recent works at Pace. We continue to admire Nozkowski for his inventiveness and whimsey. These landscapes are fresh and relevant, incorporating pixels with urban canyons and cartoony windows for the fabric of the fields.
His work answers the question how can a landscape can be something more than just a landscape. Among the things that made the show interesting were the pairings of the drawing versions right next to the paintings. We exchanged tips with Diane and Lenore on what to see and what was good and not so good, and continued in our own directions.
Thomas Nozkowski at Pace to Dec. 4.
Our direction was to Gagosian, where Anselm Kiefer filled the huge cavern with a profusion of ceiling-scraping vitrines filled with debris-like stuff, to create a kind of museum for giants. The show is called Next Year in Jerusalem, the concluding phrase of the Passover seder — and do we think the show memorializes German guilt about the Nazi genocides? Uh huh.
The best part of the installation is the vitrines themselves, which tower over you and seem welded together as if in the Iron Age, nothing prefab here. And where did they get those mammoth sheets of glass we wonder?
Anselm Kiefer at Gagosian on 24th St.to Dec. 18
Matthew Monahan, whose works typically use vitrines and figurative sculpture sometimes strapped together with furniture-moving straps, has a solo at Anton Kern, with less emphasis on glass and straps. Monahan is featured at ICA till Jan. in a two-person show with Anne Chu.
Rashaad Newsome’s show at Ramis Barquet Gallery stood out for its video that involved a hilarious interview of some pasty Brit who keeps track of heraldic entitlement, followed by a dubbing into knighthood of a ghetto-looking dude in a hoodie. The video itself was shaped like a heraldic shield. The rest was not so great–bling-y escutcheons and sloppy collage.
Rashaad Newsome, Ramis Barquet Gallery to Dec. 18
Matthew Monahan at Anton Kern til Dec. 23
At Bitforms, Spanish artist Daniel Canogar’s work plays with video projected on odd supports like a group of shiny cd’s on a wall or an unspooled and zig-zag-installed piece of VHS tape. The indoor fireworks lack sufficient content to ground the work in something more than light, color and motion.
Daniel Canogar at Bitforms to Dec. 18
We also stopped at Baker Overstreet’s show, June, at Fredericks & Freiser. June Fagley is Overstreet’s alter-ego according to the Press info. But we missed–the opening night performance, in which Overstreet became June as well as June’s enslaved assistant, Fanny. The paintings, scenes from the story of June and Fanny, deliver themes of sex and outrageousness; gay identity; and social relationships in flat, hyperbolic colors–very Rodney Alan Greenblat.
Baker Overstreet at Fredericks & Freiser to Dec. 18.
When we left at 5, Cate was off to the ICP for a slide presentation by Zoe Strauss. Cate ran into Zoe in the ICP’s lobby before the presentation –which dealt with her I-95 project, her book, America (a great holiday present if you’re wondering), and her more recent project documenting the oil spill in the Gulf. Cate said Zoe gave several shout outs to her wife, Lynn Bloom, during the course of the talk, praising Lynn for her support of all these projects. Photographer Richard Renaldi, who was a student of Cate’s at NYU, was there for the talk. Renaldi was moved by Zoe’s presentation and was hoping to have a chat with Zoe.