Accompanied by Cate who was visiting from New York, and all mic’d up and ready for our video shoot, we headed up the stairs at 319 N. 11th, with filmmaker/director Michael O’Reilly, audio engineer Charlie Kaier and cameraman Paul Parmalee in tow.
First stop, the new TandM Space on the 4th floor. Blaise Tobia and Virginia Maksymowics, who contribute international coverage for us (last post from Italy here), have a great little space with a nice texture-y particle-board floor and pristine white walls. This month they are showing work from their own studios and future First Fridays will have other work by them or by other artists on the walls. Between First Fridays the space will be Blaise’s “clean” work space, for his photographs. The works look excellent in the space. Virginia has some sexy photo/prints of sexy reclining female figures in fountains in Italy and Blaise is showing works not seen before. Those Italians have a very different relation to the body than we Americans do, says Virginia. True that.
The show this month at Vox Populi includes out-of-town artists — the collective that goes by the name of Elephant Cloud, Ilana Harris-Babou, Ralph Pugay and Dominic Terlizzi. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves chatting with the artists and looking at the works. (We missed Babou-Harris’s sound pieces and the movie in the 4th Wall space for lack of time).
Ralph Pugay’s colorful imaginings — small narrative paintings with cartoonish renderings of dream-like scenes on topics ranging from art (Mark Rothko) to aspects of contemporary life (airport security, volcanic explosions), win the prize for smiles per hour. (Think The Simpsons and Caleb Weintraub)
We spoke with Pugay, a friendly guy, who actually mentioned dream states when we asked him what was going on. He’s an absurdist with a great sense of humor and a marvelous upbeat color palette, and news flash, right as we arrived, he was in the process of selling a painting— to major art supporter and dog-and-cat-lover Sarah McEneaney! Sarah bought “Dogs Barking at Weapons,” a hilarious comment on security measures among other things.
In addition to running into McEneaney, we saw Tim Eads, looking colorful as usual. He is a one-man photo opportunity for artblog!
Hey, one of Vox’s big improvements this year is to have many copies of the exhibition list available near the front desk. This time, two of the artists had prices on the list — if not a first, then a good thing nonetheless.
In the world of faux, Dominic Terlizzi’s pretzel-, saltine- and matzo-encrusted abstract paintings are all labeled “acrylic on canvas” but we thought they might be covered with real carbs because it all looks so real. We were wrong – the works, which seem to be updates on old fashioned geo-art designs, are made of molded objects put together in a mosaic-like fashion. With a color palette similar to Pugay’s, Terlizzi’s works seem ebullient, although their light-heartedness is faux. Once you get done laughing about cast saltine crackers and goldfish, the works are just plain beautiful, and, is it too much to say, anti-consumerist.
We met the two Elephant Cloud artists, Blythe Cain and Lee Hunter, who explained the pastel-colored and airbrushed formalist arrangements as a collaboration whose stacks of geometric forms get arranged differently with each showing. Here, Cain was curator/arranger. The works are painted by Argentinian artist Pachi Giustinian, who lives in Buenos Aires. Excellent to look at, we wondered if maybe the collaboration was the most interesting part of the project.
Trevor Amery spent some time with us at Grizzly Grizzly giving us context for his show, which has to do with his experience in a residency in Hungary. There’s a great faux geode in the middle of the room, like an update on the “what is it” monolith in 2001: A Space Odessy, and a faux rock climbing wall where the hand-hold rocks have been lined up, grid-like, which is pretty hilarious comment on, well, maybe on faux nature as pictured in rock climbing walls.
Somehow, everything we saw seemed to have echoes Friday night. Alexi Kukuljevic’s prints and abstracted objects at Marginal Utility, for example, have something to do with food (Terlizzi) and use fantastical colors to get across in a visceral way.
Kukuljevic, who is also a writer for Machete, the MU publication, is a wry guy. We spent some time admiring his pieces, including the works’ pedestals (sticks, pieces of glass, random found objects). The prints are of dead and dying coral. Good show. We loved it, although not everyone in our large crew was sold.
Tiger Strikes Asteroid
The impossible machines of Benjamin White at Tiger Strikes Asteroid are made of crazy materials (cast concrete). They evoke a mad scientist’s lab where ideas are generated by the dozen and executed one after another. The big idea, White told us, has to do with history repeating itself, and life not getting any better, and humans not learning from their mistakes. TSA member and artblog friend Terri Saulin Frock curated the show and missed the opening due to a serious knee surgery (get better Terri!). White’s concrete arm splint, while not ironic in the least, seemed to echo the curator’s (presumably-aplinted) knee.
The small gallery, Napoleon, like Grizzly Grizzly, is a shape shifter. Each show, each installation makes the space grow or shrink in a way that asks you to question what you’ve seen there before. Leslie Friedman and Bernardo Margulis have collaborated this month on a complete dining-room-ization of the space. Wallpaper, a dining table set for 6 people, a side table with family pictures, paintings on the walls, a basket of bagels…what a great stage set for a feast of some sort.
The two artists told us they are planning a brunch that will actually bring a group together for a discussion …probably, we are thinking it will be a discussion about the themes of gay-ness and Jewish-ness and other kinds of identity questions.
Continuing on to Arch Street, we skated up the ice and snow-slick stairs at Space 1026 for the group show of New York-based artists curated by Austin English, proprietor of Domino Books. If you know us it will be no surprise to hear that we love a show called Deep Fun. (Incidentally, this show, too, has a price list!)
Anthony Miler’s paintings and drawings are updates on DeKooning’s Women, and they are terrific. Miler was talking with Chris Davison when we arrived. The two artists met on Instagram. They had a brief chat with me about Instagram manners. Should you comment on someone’s Instagram post without emailing them? Should you introduce yourself? I hope someone is writing an Internet manners manual. Clearly there’s a vacuum.
Swedish-born, New York-based Clara Bessijelle’s detailed pencil drawings from her comic “Face Man” are great — and you could buy the whole comic book — beautifully-printed — for $5! We whipped out our dollars to buy a copy. We also bought a comic book by Char Esme, who was showing some angrier-than-thou, Barbie-hating soft wall reliefs.
By the end of the night, our crew was pooped. Before we even hit Space 1026, Michael opined that “This is hard work!” By this, we think he meant looking at art but we just laughed.
Anyway, get out there and take a look. Most of the shows are up through January but check the websites for hours.