A new group exhibition at Signal Gallery Surface Support started out with the question, “How does video exist outside itself?” Curator Amanda Schmitt has worked with video artists since about the dawn of Postinternet thinking. It’s almost as if now that thinking too heavily about the internet as a thing (and just accepting it as an inherent part of aesthetics, social interaction, and sadly even existence) we can get back to thinking about video in new ways again. “Video and of course screens changed the way we think,” Amanda explained. “We’re always on our phones now, so sometimes we take it for granted.”
Ludlow Studios was packed to the brim with people for the private one-night only event to celebrate and ogle Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett’s art work. The crowd included everyone from stylish hip kids furtively scanning the room for Barnett’s messy brown mane to appear somewhere in the crowd, loafers who weren’t sure exactly what all the hoopla and video cameras were all about but knew for certain there were infinite free mezcal cocktails to be guzzled, and the nearing-the-top-of-the-hills sponging around to see what the kids are into these days. I’m not old, but this event made me feel old, particularly because up until I heard word of this event, I had no idea who Courtney Barnett was.
I’d never seen art move so quickly off the walls as I did last night at Con Artist Collective‘s Lower East Side gallery. Things were so hectic that it was difficult even to talk to founder Brian Shevlin about the unusual exhibition. His eyes were too busy darting to and from the small, rectangular pieces of art as they were gently taken off the walls, wrapped in red plastic bags, and quickly replaced by more art works. It felt like a feeding frenzy, and I couldn’t help but join in. Snagging some art myself, I realized I’d never even considered buying art in a gallery before this. I mean, definitely the $20 price tag had something, a lot, to do with making an already appealing piece of work feel accessible. “We did this based on Bread & Puppet Theater’s Why Cheap Art? Manifesto,” Shevlin explained. “Basically, we believe that artists should be required to make cheap art.”
Can you think of an activity you’ve completed every single day for two years? While I’d struggle to even claim taking a brush to my molars that consistently, South African miniaturist Lorraine Loots extended hers (brush, not molars) to 730 photorealistic watercolor paintings, the prints of which will be on display this Wednesday at Three Kings Studio in Williamsburg.
While wandering from gallery to gallery yesterday in the Lower East Side, soaking up a pair of museum-like nostalgia exhibitions focusing on at least one part if not all of a few-decades long span from Warhol’s Factory days through the ’90s club kid scene, I started thinking about a conversation I’d had with one JJ Brine, Satanic gallerist extraordinaire. Before JJ took off for Vanuatu (btw according to his Facebook page, he made it just fine), he explained he was departing indefinitely because he was frustrated with what he understood as New York City’s unusual fixation on the past at the expense of devoting energy to the future. I couldn’t have agreed more, but somehow The Last Party and Michael Alig’s appropriately-titled solo exhibition, Inside / Out succeed in drawing a line, however crooked, between the past and the present and making this nostalgia part of current existence. How? Well, I felt as though I could almost see myself in some of the blurry old party photos and even the creepy clown-like painted odes to various poisons of choice.
Everything was going rather predictably at the preview event for an upcoming arts initiative in Detroit spearheaded by Gary Wasserman, a well-known steel mogul, philanthropist, and patron of the arts in Southeast Michigan. Inside the Williamsburg studio of Markus Linnenbrink there was the requisite colorful, unprovocative artwork chosen for public display, the starchitect with an approachable design, and talk of revitalization of a bankrupt city through the arts. There were even sandwiches. But once the conversation moved into specifics about Wasserman Projects– namely, the launching of a public outreach initiative involving a modular pavilion, $250 chickens, and Zimbabwean mushrooms– that sandwich nearly fell out of my mouth.
One of skateboarding’s biggest commercial booms was in the 1980s. With their robust royalty checks and penchant for partying, many of the big name vert riders of the decade were legitimate rock stars. Unlike today, it wasn’t the contest money or shoe contracts that beefed up their bank accounts, but monthly board sales royalty checks that often exceeded 10K (put that in the inflation calculator). Sure, kids were consuming these boards because Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi were household names, but it was the actual board art that was the true marketing tool.
The invitation for Seek: A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy, at Soho’s Recess gallery, was a strange one, steeped in culty vibes. “Visitors are invited to make an appointment to meet with a consultant for their personal reading. Seek is the newest treatment from Institute for New Feeling. It offers individuals a clairvoyant reading generated by the misuse of online search engines.” An invitation for a free “reading?” Check. Sounds a lot like an E-meter reading. Arcane symbols? Check. The Institute’s website is replete with them. And hold up– the Institute? Yup. It’s a self-described “research clinic committed to new ways of feeling, and ways of feeling new” that offers “a rotating menu of wellness treatments, therapies, and retreats.” Right. Needless to say we got down there quicker than you can say “Scientology.”
What’s (possibly) more Brooklyn than Jay Z? Water towers. Or at least that’s what Boundless Brooklyn, a company that creates replica DIY model kits of the towers and other iconic New York City structures, would argue. Their water towers are featured in two upcoming art installations – one at MoMA Design Store and the other at a boutique that only sells Brooklyn-made goods, aptly named By Brooklyn.
This isn’t the water towers’ first appearance as an art installation – earlier this year they appeared at a MoMA Design Store show that featured the artists Zero Productivity and MURRZ.
Anyone who attended Bushwick Open Studios this past weekend knows there was a plethora of penetrating art. Especially at the closing weekend of “Housebound,” an exhibit at Chasm Gallery where penises abounded.
Robyn Renee Hasty is no stranger to outsiders, countercultures, and misfits. So it might feel a little strange for the artist to be in the midst of what’s becoming a mainstream social movement and media obsession to match, as embodied in the debut of Caitlyn Jenner. A new exhibition featuring Hasty’s most recent work, opening Thursday at Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works, couldn’t be more timely. But even with a newfound frank (but still sometimes fraught) discussion of the transgender experience going mainstream, Hasty’s nude portraits of transgender, gender non-conforming, and cisgender people are still subversive.