New York revives my faith in art

Nick Cave
A digital C-Pring of the artist Nick Cave modeling one of his body art/costumes/sculptures

Imagine the pleasure of seeing really great stuff in Chelsea!! My energy has returned.

I’m going to start with an ode to the return of juicy sculpture and then move on to remind us that cartoons are not just a kiddy medium.

Nick Cave

Nick Cave
Soundsuits, by Nick Cave

Nick Cave at Jack Shainman Gallery continues to mix costume, ritual, Mardi Gras and African imagery using the most unlikely scavenged thrift shop materials, making silk purses from sows’ ears. The Soundsuits knocked me off my feet–once again (they are called soundsuits because of the noise they make when worn). This was my fourth Cave experience, and he continues to astound with a blend of threat and extravagant decoration, taking back Ku Klux Klan hoods from the white guys and turning them into something else entirely.

Philly angle

A few months ago, Kim Sajet, PAFA’s senior vice president of museum and public programs, mentioned they were considering a Cave purchase (see post). The gallery confirmed the purchase was made!!! Is this part of an agenda to expand the African American holdings of PAFA? Hmmm. Gotta ask. Either way, it’s exciting contemporary work from this Chicago-based artist.

Our biggest accidental viewing

David Opdyke
Here’s the dark side of David Opdyke’s threatened and threatening landscape

We stumbled into a group show at Roebling Hall because we knew the name of the gallery, not because we knew what was there. Psychoideology: Spirituality, Politics and Identity in Search of a New Paradigm had some fabulous pieces, include a flocked landscape by David Opdyke about to slither down into its own maze of blackened pipes that served as a pedestal.

Adam Scott
Adam Scott’s 96 tears/24 hours, 2006, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 70″

This show had lots of surprising work–a grubby installation of life in front of the tv screen by Wyatt Nash, Pop thick-skinned paintings from Adam Scott, a sexy threatening charcoal and pastel piece by Melanie Baker, a threatening chemo-landscape from Angela Dufresne.

Other high points of the day are not even afterthoughts. They’d go right at the top of the list if the list had a wider top:

Two cartoon-meisters use words and imagery to skewer politics and culture

Robert Colescott
Ode to Joy, by Robert Colescott

Robert Colescott at Kravets/Wehby uses complex German Expressionist compositions to skewer our stereotypes about race, sex, money, power, etc. He’s fearless, dirty, politically incorrect, and calls things how they really are when we aren’t pretending to be nice. The guy is old as the hills, but the work is fresher than the paint, which was applied about 10 years ago! Great stuff.

Peter Saul
Portrait of the Artist as a Woman, by Peter Saul

And from the white guy point of view, Peter Saul at Leo Koenig merges R. Crumb grotesquery with aggressive color, fabulous paint application and a razor wit. This Hairy Who associate (another Chicago connection for this post) takes on George Bush, Osama Bin Laden and sexual identity, for starters. The work, like Colescott’s, has the passion of youth.

More to follow

Frank Gehry does Chelsea
Frank Gehry’s new headquarters for Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp swoops up from the ground like a ghostly tall ship, kissing the sky

That’s my first blast on New York–more to come from us–Jennifer Steinkamp on wavy ground, Stanley Whitney paints colors at Esso Gallery; Raoul de Keyser paints glyphs at David Zwirner; Lisa Yuskavage paints vacant pregnancy and pregnant vacancy at Zwirner & Worth–same old same old; and a couple more local connections of note–Randall Sellers raises the bar for Jonathan Levine Gallery; and Sabeen Raja and Jina Valentine in a young show curated by thrift-shop fabric queen Shinique Smith. (Is this a material trend)?

For more images of what we saw, see my Flickr set.