Monday, May 25, 2009

Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 534 West 26 street Jessica Stockholder May 7-June 20

Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Jessica Stockholder is a highly respected artist who's been showing for a long time, and I've seen a lot of her work over the years. I have to admit that I don't fully understand what she's doing or know if I even like it, but there's something about her that I think is interesting. Maybe it's that she's hard to really define. I usually hear her referred to as a sculptor, although I imagine sculpture purists would dispute that. She's also called an installation artist, although the spontaneous, haphazard appearance of her work really challenges the tradition of that medium. In fact her choice of materials and the way she combines them seems kind of silly, and even arbitrary. They don't appear to have any relationship to one another either formally or thematically. That kind of sloppy intuitiveness is a quality you see more often in painting than in sculpture or installation art. In fact some of the work does have big strokes of paint on it, though you'd really be pushing it to call her a painter. But, her work isn't just challenging to tradition, or catagoration. The objects and the way they're put together are about as disharmonious as any art I've seen. While I can't figure out what she's aiming for, I have to admit that her total disregard for aesthetics is pretty impressive.

Cheim & Read 547 West 25stChantal Joffe May 7-June 13Cheim & Read 547 West 25stChantal Joffe May 7-June 13

This was a pleasant surprise. Chantal Joffe is a very good young British painter who I'd never heard of before I wandered into the gallery the other day. Joffe paints large scale figurative images that, at least in this show, focus on young women. The expressive painterliness of the work, and the strange meandering distortions of the bodies made me initially think of Alice Neal. The work is also in the same school as Egon Schiel, or Chaim Soutine, where anatomical accuracy submits to the physical properties of the paint. They're actually the kind of paintings Marlene Dumas would be doing if Marlina Dumas were a better painter.

The size of the paintings at first struck me as a little awkward and self important given the seeming immediacy in which they were painted, but I could soon feel the weight of the gestures, and the expressive slap of the wet brush strokes that requires this kind of scale. There are, in fact a few smaller paintings in the back that don't carry the same strength of the big ones. The big sweeping strokes of paint also show off the bold and imaginative way Ms Joffe renders the bodies and creates unpredictable flesh tones.

I found out from the press release at the front desk that she usually gets her images from fashion spreads and magazine ads, but these paintings are from photos Joffe herself took bakstage at Paris fashion week, and are meant to "reveal a sense of vulnerability and openness, characteristics not usually associated with the polished identity of high fashion". Hummm. I didn't really get that, but she is a hell of a good painter.

Betty Cuningham Gallery, 541 West 25stJohn Lees: works on paper May 7-June 13

John Lees is an old school painters painter whose physically aggressive use of the medium, and slow deliberate method of painting has characterized his work for over three decades. This show of drawings are if anything more expressive, because of the physical fragility of the paper. The same way the duration of the work causes the surfaces of his paintings to build up also causes the surfaces of his drawings to break down. Lees usually uses a mixture of medium, and these drawings have a beautifully beat up and distressed quality, that is never self conscious. In some cases the paper is ripped through by the relentless drawing and redrawing of an image, a process that for Lees often takes ten years or more. The man should get points for tenacity.

Lees's subject matter is common place and has only personal significance, but he's one of these artists who addresses the universal through the particular. He draws his dog, his saxophone, or paths and streams that are near where he lives--the things that he cares about and enjoys looking at. The influence of Chinese art is pretty obvious, but I also think that the sketches of Leonardo, and other Renaissance masters inform Lees hand. In the spirit of disclosure I should mention that Lees's was a professor of mine when I was in art school and I'm pretty familiar with his work, but I think I would like it even if I were seeing it for the first time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Music 2009

Here are some links on summer concerts around New York. If you are planning on being here during this time you might be interested:

AllPointsWest starts Friday July 31rst

Siren Music Festival... waiting for dates

Summer Stage, central park concerts FREE!

Andreas Herzau Onscreen

Hi everyone,
I have been looking at videos and photos from our friend Andreas Herzau for the past few weeks and been very impressed. I have not seen anything like these photos video essays before. They are wonderful and well produced works that take you to a place that is akin to visual poetry. Looking at the photo essays, Skyscrapers, brought me back in time to when airplanes in the sky were mysterious and the world was large.

Explore his photo essays. Download his videos from Itunes and then tell him what you think.

He also has an interesting blog called Hellonewyork Hallohamburg. This is a wonderful blog of photography of competing visions by Stefan Falke and Andreas Herzau. I suggest an exploration. You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Update: Village Vanguard night of Brad Mehidau

On May 10th I finally got to see Brad Mehidau. Guillermo, a friend of the house recommend I go check him out, and I am glad I listened. Brad Mehidau is not crazy Thelonius Monk, but surrealistic new wave, on the edge jazz. It was right to see .

Here some pictures from the Village Vanguard. It is a very old and historic jazz club. It's small and intimate, and the price was reasonable. It is a good place to see and hear live music.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel

A few weeks ago Matt and I took a tour of the tunnel beneath Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. The tunnel was rediscovered by Bob Diamond in 1979 after it had long been forgotten and became part of the folklore of Brooklyn. The were many stories about the tunnel being a place for pirates hiding their loot, and German spies planning to sabotage munition ships during WWI. If you want to see and hear about a part of New York that is rarely known we can't stress signing up for this tour enough. More information can be found on their website. Reservations are required. Upcoming tours can be found here.

Matt Jacobs at George Bills Gallery May 26th to June 27th

Our friend and contributing blogger, Matthew Jacobs, will be having and exhibition at the George Billis Gallery from May 26 to June 27th. The reception is on Thursday, May 28th and will be from 6 to 8PM. The gallery is located at 511 West 25th street.

What will be exhibited, I consider to be a major departure from his past work in that the human figure is represented. His new work, from what I have seen in my studio visits, I've found to be both exciting and provocative. For there is something dirty in the beauty of his new paintings. I can't tell you what is in his head but I do like what he is doing. I don't want to say more about what I feel because he is my friend and I would like you to see it in person. I will be at the opening. Maybe there, we will have the opportunity to share our impressions. It is well worth the visit. I hope to see you there.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bill Frissell at the Village Vanguard May 12 to 17

A friend of the house recommend that we should not miss this.   I don't know.  What do you think?  Let us know.

Movies listings in Chelsea

I get asked a lot about what movies are showing in Chelsea so I figured why not just bookmark the search and post it to my blog for all to see. So go find what you want here and thank me later. Cheers!

Bargain Classics in Chelsea with attitude

For those who want the return of the classics on the big screen mixed with some Chelsea romp , I suggest you check this out at the Chelsea Classics Clearview. I remember when the big thing on Friday was the Rocky Horror Picture show at midnight, now there is the classics on Thursday at 7PM for $7.50. That is more my speed. Would you go?

TKTS discount Theater tickets

For discount theater tickets, we recommend everyone try TKTS. To avoid lines we suggest you buy the tickets from their branch at 199 Water Street, the address in the TKTS site. There is often a less of a wait at their downtown branch.

We have more links on live theater shows in New York on our links page here. Check it out and see a show and tell us what shows you would recommend.