Next week during passover some Lower East Siders may feel something missing from their annual celebration– for the first time in ninety years, Streit’s Matzo at 150 Rivington Street is closed. Adding insult to injury, its old building with the famous red “Streit’s” sign above it is slated for demolition that same week, to make way for a seven-story luxury condo building.
Since we last caught up with Betty Tompkins– the downtown artist best known for her “Fuck Paintings,” she’s been doing what an established artist should be doing, showing her work at art shows and galleries galore. But for most of her career, as we learned, Tompkins was subject to censorship, sexism, and flat-out rejection not just from gallerists and the art world, but from first- and second-wave feminists too. Nevertheless, Tompkins kept painting nether regions and money shots, all of it sourced from porn. “The problem is, I’m a slut for painting,” she said.
We heard all this and more at “A Woman’s Greatest Weapon is Her Tongue,” a Q&A held in conjunction with Tompkins’s new solo exhibition of “Word Paintings,” which depict some of the “awfully familiar” words used to describe women. (“WOMEN Words Phrases Stories” is on view at the FLAG Art Foundation through May 14).
“People are going to come and say: ‘How does this place stay in business?'” Brian Shevlin, the founder of Con Artist Collective said, talking a mile a minute and gesturing around Lazy Susan, the new itsy-bitsy gallery at 191 Henry Street still in the midst of a “mini facelift.” But that doesn’t bother Shevlin– maybe it won’t manage to stay “in business” in the traditional sense, but he hopes it’ll succeed as a rag-tag, largely artist-run project space that’ll surprise and delight in a way more bottom-line driven galleries don’t.
“We thought: wouldn’t it be awesome if Con Artist Collective could have a space that we could just sort of have the keys to and give it to an artist and say: do whatever the hell you want, you’ve got this many days?” Shevlin said. “It doesn’t matter what they do. They make money or they don’t make money. They sit in the room or they don’t open at all. It doesn’t really matter, it’s your space.”
We’ve all seen the “massage girl” advertisements lurking at the back of alternative weeklies and the grainier budget versions of escort ads spamming the nether regions of the internet– signs that a legitimate underworld of body-business is still solidly stuck to the underside of the white market. It’s ever-present, and in some ways unchanging. These familiar “backpage ads” are the source images for art-critic-turned-artist Walter Robinson‘s blurry acrylic renderings on view at There’s a Bluebird in My Heart, a new show opening Friday, April 8 at Owen James Gallery in Greenpoint.
The paintings depicting doe-eyed girls wearing slinky loungewear, long tresses, and pouty demeanors, account for about half the show, while the rest consists of still-lifes of liquor bottles, cigarettes, and pill bottles. “It’s basically a two-artist show,” explained Owen Houhoulis, owner of Owen James. “One is a longtime New York artist and the other is the well-known poet Charles Bukowski.” Really, though, the show is a three-way effort between curator, painter, and the late, great drunken poet, as well as a way for Houhoulis to realize a longtime dream of putting together a curatorial homage to Bukowski.
Get ready to wax nostalgic.
David Selig, owner of the late, great Rockaway Taco, is working with surf instructor Fernando Pires to open a museum dedicated to the history and culture of surfing in Rockaway Beach. They’re giving a shack-like makeover to the second floor of a Victorian backhouse and stocking it with classic boards and over 500 surfing movies, magazines and memorabilia, mostly sourced from Pires’ personal collection. And that’s not all Selig is cooking up: the ground floor of the building, located on Beach 96th Street, will house a new bakery, and the adjacent tropical hideaway, The Palms, is getting a chef-driven dinner series.
If you enter the cordoned-off projection room at LA-based artist Alison O’Daniel‘s newly-opened exhibition, Room Tone at just the right moment (anytime between now and May 8, when the show is on view at Knockdown Center), you’ll bump right into the summer of 1980, when a packed house at one of San Francisco’s weirdest “social experiments” known as the Deaf Club, had gathered for the venue’s very last punk show. The legendary punk club, which had originally functioned as a social club for the deaf since it was founded in the 1930s, came about when the building’s owners decided to rent out some extra space. The deaf social remained while the place became a raucous DIY show space by night, drawing artists, musicians, and underground types like John Waters.
In O’Daniel’s film, we see some of the deaf people playing card games, unperturbed as the floors rattle and shake around them, and others wandering through the punk show as if in a dream, continuing to engage in their intimate sign conversations, while the wild noise around them proves to have little power in disrupting their connection. On the flip side, the punk show goes on, too– the presence of the Deaf Club members has no effect on the punk catharsis. I imagined a giant venn diagram– the small sliver in the center being the smidgen of experience that the deaf and hearing people shared in this scene, and the almost whole worlds that remained intact outside where the circles met. As a hearing impaired person, O’Daniel can jump back-and-forth between these two separate circles of experience, just one perspective that makes Room Tone so profoundly brain shifting.
If you’ve ever folded away at little paper origami cranes and thought, “Hey, this is pretty good,” just go ahead and throw that right in the trash can, because Art on Paper is here to put you to shame. The paper-centric art show, displaying works from almost 80 galleries, is part of the annual Armory Week’s impressive lineup. From collages, painstakingly stenciled 3D dioramas, bas reliefs, to freestanding sculptures, it’s all there for enviable viewing at Pier 36, on the Lower East Side, until March 6.
There might be no other artist breathing today who lives their art as deeply and consistently as Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. The renowned occultist and “wrecker of civilization” has repeatedly taken a spiky club to the larger culture, even to h/er own body, as a means of dismembering ingrained mores. S/he did this first as a founding member of Throbbing Gristle– a band whose embrace of bristling, harsh sounds and antagonistic politics sought to dishevel the status quo, and sparked the inception of industrial music– and subsequently with Psychic TV. With h/er new exhibition, Try to Altar Everything (opening March 11), P-Orridge will transform the Rubin Museum into a participatory “shamanic space,” inspired by h/er travels to the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. “We’re developing this bouncing conversation between the mundane and the sacred,” Genesis explained. “Everything can be sacred, and if you start to look for the sacred, you will find it.”