Am the Rhythm– zingy psychedelic Pop

Jeanne Jaffe, Polygenesis-Progeny, detail, Resin and acrylic paint
Jeanne Jaffe, Polygenesis-Progeny, detail, Resin and acrylic paint

Am the Rhythm at the Painted Bride riffs in unexpected directions by grouping a somewhat unlikely quintet of artists–Jeanne Jaffe, Isaac Tin Wei Lin, Jackie Tileston, Laura Watt and Andrew Jeffrey Wright.

Curator Shelley Spector asked the artists to respond to the space and to one another’s work, improvising, sort of the way a jazz combo improvises and riffs.

The end result goes beyond the metaphor of music, turning the combo into something bigger and better.


First of all, the artists in the show transcend the generational divide and the genre divide–

Jaffe has installed inflated, blobby breast-shapes that are cartoony and metastatic, as if Popeye’s forearms and hands detached from his body, multiplied and began growing out of the walls and the floor. Jaffe may be the senior member of the group, but the work is young and irreverent. The plastic toy materials are colored in cartoon flesh tones, mixing a little of Murakami art-toy product with Linda Benglis‘ blobby, wild sexuality. The result is pure pleasure.

Andrew Jeffrey Wright
Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Xs and Diamonds, Infinite loop DVD – Edition of 10, Art and direction – Andrew Jeffrey Wright; Animation – Bonnie Brenda Scott


Wright’s buzzy x-shapes bring houndstooth/sawtooth patterns to psychedelia. These trippy pieces get re-imagined in a tv version that sizzles and pops like a tv test pattern on the fritz. Wright made the paintings in situ (and we can see him and the others in the exhibit at work in Wendy Weinberg‘s wonderful video documenting all the artists before and during the installation).

Wright brings wit to work that reminds me of the form of outsider hobo art, turning a depressed genre into a mandala for the YouTube generation, who are used to visual over-stimulation.

Jackie Tileston
No Matter Where (Not Pictured Here), Oil and mixed media on linen


Trippy in a whole other way are new paintings by Tileston, which she created after seeing the work the other artists were doing. They retain Tileston’s signature inchoate space that explodes and rains down in orgasmic clouds–there must have been some influence from Pat Steir‘s faux nature paintings and from color-field glitz-meisters like Jules Olitski, but Tileston adds depth-and-space layers of cultures colliding and joining. This time, Tileston has added cartoony passages of fluid outlines and heated, zingy color that anchor this new work to American Pop. These paintings open a hole in the fabric of the cosmos to deliver a new, joyous world order.

IMG_4870 Laura Watt
Laura Watt’s installation with her paintings Caught Falling… Again and Boob Job Study, both oil on canvas

Wright’s x-boxes seem transfigured into figure eights in Watt’s paintings–layered visual roller coasters and wormholes that knot around the canvas. Responding to the other artists and the space, Watt added a pink crystalline network outlined directly on the walls, connecting her paintings as a group and connecting them to Jaffe’s pink breasts on the opposite side of the room.

IMG_4860 Isaac Lin
Isaac Tin Wei Lin, Haunted, Cardboard (corrugated boxes) with acrylic and enamel

The approach to the show is past a tall black tower of cardboard boxes, painted with calligraphic white marks, by Lin. The boxes create a skinny ziggurat reaching to the sky–or at least to the ceiling of the two-story-high gallery space. The language on them is mumbo jumbo, and the scale of the markings stands in strong contrast to so many of language-driven obsessive mark-makers like Jacob el-Hanani. Lin’s approach here suggests billboards that fail to communicate, and transmission towers that put out so many words in so many languages that the result is a surplus of incomprehensible babble. Contrasting the non-communications tower, Lin also installed a black-box wall, sans the linguistic markings, to create a lowering, stolid black box for Weinberg’s video.

I suppose we’re all channeling the Age of Aquarius again at this moment in time to overcome our feelings of bleak prospects in a nation that has lost its upward momentum. It works, too. If you’re feeling down about the trip you can no longer afford to take to Europe, you can go to the Painted Bride and catch the Marrakesh Express.