Tomorrow (Saturday, August 18, 2012) is the last chance to see the “Trenton Makes” show in Chelsea at Prince Street Gallery (530 W 25th Street, 4th Floor).  My painting, “Approaching Equilibrium,” is in the show along with the work of many other artists from central New Jersey.

There is still time to see the Trenton half of this two-part exhibition at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Trenton’s Cadwalader Park.  This portion remains up through September 1, 2012, and it includes my painting “Creation”.  I’ll be at Ellarslie on Sunday from 1-4pm to help keep an eye on the show; that’s also the same time that Mel Leipzig is scheduled to give a talk about his work.

I’m very happy to announce that one of my paintings, Approaching Equilibrium (acrylic on panel, 20×20), will be a part of a group show entitled, “Trenton Makes”, at the Prince Street Gallery in Chelsea.  The exhibition, which features a diverse selection of art from central New Jersey artists, runs from July 31 through August 18, 2012, with an opening reception on Thursday, August 2, from 5-8pm.  Prince Street Gallery is located at 530 West 25th Street (4th Floor — take the elevator to the 4th floor and the gallery will be on your immediate right).  If you can’t make the opening but would like to see the show, regular gallery hours are 11am-6pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

Approaching Equilibrium

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth, I thought I’d put together a posting of some of my paintings that owe a direct debt to Mr. Turing, and not just because he’s one of the fathers of computer science (see today’s Google Doodle).  These paintings feature “Turing Patterns” as the key compositional structure.  Turing predicted in a highly cited (though little known to the general public) paper that a “reaction-diffusion” process in nature could be responsible for various patterns in nature, such as the stripes on a zebra or the spots on a leopard.  (I recently attended the Turing Centennial Celebration at Princeton University, where Professor James Murray gave a fascinating talk showing how the various patterns on some animals are largely dependent upon the shape of the animal in the early stages of its development.)

Several years ago, while I was experimenting with ways to create interesting patterns that had a certain balance between the positive and the negative shapes, I developed a technique to create what I found to be fascinating, curvy patterns.  It was only later that I learned these patterns were Turing Patterns and had been discovered half a century earlier.  For me, they provide a limitless variety of structures on which to play with the interaction of color, embed meaning (through the starting state of the “morphogenesis” process or through the enfolding of twists and turns into the pattern), and create layers of interlocking design.

Here are a few of my Turing Pattern Paintings:

Creation is now hanging at the “Trenton Makes” exhibition at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie through September 1, 2012 (opening reception tonight, June 23, from 7-9pm!):

I’m pleased to announce that two of my paintings will be included in TAWA‘s “Trenton Makes” two-part exhibition this summer.  “Creation” will be in the first half of the show at The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie, which runs from June 23 through September 1, 2012, with an opening reception at the Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park in Trenton, NJ, on Saturday, June 23, from 7-9pm.  It’s always a thrill to have my work at Ellarslie along with so many other fine artists from central Jersey and the opening receptions are events not-to-be-missed if you’re nearby.

The second painting will be in the New York City portion of this exhibition.  I’ll be announcing more details on this in a few weeks.

I’m very pleased to have five of my paintings included in an upcoming group exhibition, Prismatic, at the Arts Guild New Jersey.  The show runs from May 6 through June 7, 2012, and there is an opening reception on Sunday, May 6, from 1-4pm.  The Arts Guild is located at 1670 Irving Street in Rahway, NJ (less than 1/2 mile from the Rahway train station on the Northeast Corridor line, for any New Yorkers who’d like to see the show).

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some images of my paintings in the show, but for now here’s the official invitation:

This month I have four new paintings (plus one older piece) up at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, NJ (18 Bridge Street).  There’s an opening reception today (April 7, 2012) from 4-7pm at the gallery for this month’s featured artists, Joe Kazimierczyk and Jo-Ann Osnoe.  This month’s exhibition is up through May 6.

I’m very happy to announce that two of my paintings will be included in the upcoming exhibition, Art of Illusion, at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, NJ.  The show runs from March 4 through April 29, 2012, and there is an opening reception on Sunday, March 4, from 4-6pm.  The Monmouth Museum is located at 765 Newman Springs Rd., Lincroft, NJ 07738.

One of the paintings, Enfolding, is brand new:

Enfolding, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches, 2012

The other, Strange Loops #4, is from a few years ago and you might have seen it on display at one of my shows in Lambertville.  This painting incorporates several layers of patterns and marks, some of which are painted with a metallic pigment so that the painting looks very different depending upon the angle you view it.  From the side, when you catch the light, you get one impression that highlights the gold paints, while from the front you see an image that is full of greens and blues.

Strange Loops 4

I’m happy to announce that my painting Center of Narrative Gravity #24 has been accepted into the Mercer County Artists 2012 juried exhibition.  The show runs from March 7 through April 5, 2012, at The Gallery @ Mercer County Community College.  The opening reception, always a well-attended and fun affair, will be held on Wednesday, March 7, from 5-7:30pm (the college is located at 1200 Old Trenton Rd, West Windsor, NJ 08550).

Center of Narrative Gravity #24, acrylic on canvas, 24x24

 

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted on the blog, but that’s only because I’ve been so busy working on new paintings.  I’ll unveil some of them soon enough and let you know about some upcoming shows, but in the meantime let me tell you about the February exhibition at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, NJ (18 Bridge St).  This is the gallery’s annual February group show where all 18 gallery artists are included throughout the multi-room exhibition space.  The show is up now through Sunday, March 4, 2012, and there is an opening reception on Saturday, February 11, from 3-6pm.

This month I am exhibiting five paintings, including “Having in Mind”:

Having in Mind, acrylic on panel, 30×30 (diagonals, 42″ wide)

Other paintings this month include Seeing Red, Attractors #2, and Arising:

Every December, Artists’ Gallery hosts a group show that includes all 18 artists represented at the gallery. This year’s show, entitled “Holiday Lights”, runs from Friday, December 9, 2011, through February 5, 2012.  There will be an opening reception / holiday party on Saturday, December 10, from 3-6pm.  (The gallery is located at 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, NJ.)

During the first month of the exhibition, I will have seven paintings up at the gallery, including the following:

My wife and I just returned from our first visit to Art Basel Miami Beach and the surrounding art fair week.  I won’t be able to write about everything we saw as it was just too much for this part-time blogger to cover as I’ve got paintings to work on (others will do this job admirably, I’m sure).  Instead, I’d like to share a few thoughts, a few highlights, and a few tips for future visitors to Miami’s art fair scene.

We made it to a total of (I think) eight art fairs & exhibitions:  The Rubell Family Collection, Art Miami, Scope, Pulse, Red Dot, INK, Art Basel, and NADA.  We found work to like in each of these and overall I was happy with the state of the art world.  It seemed that there was a high “quality” level to the things on the wall, even when the work was something I didn’t like.  There was a lot of painting and less of the head-scratching “what the heck is that?” than I’ve seen at many recent New York art fairs (though there was still some of that).  There was a mix of abstraction and representation (not much realism, though) and art at all ends of the price spectrum (though not much that would fall into the “very inexpensive” range).

One quote by Jeffrey Deitch in The Art Newspaper (the daily that covers these sorts of events) caught my attention: “There is a tremendous energy in painting right now, particularly abstract.”

Every year there are a few artists whose work seems to turn up everywhere.  This year, to my eye at least, the two were John Miller and Carlos Cruz-Diez.  I saw John Miller’s faux gold leaf coated assemblages everywhere (dozens of objects glommed together and coated in gold).  Unless you want to go up close and really decipher what you’re looking at, though, these tend to all look the same from afar (“Oh, look, there’s another one!”).

Cruz-Diez’s interactive wall pieces are fun and interactive.  The first time I remember seeing his work was in 2007 at The Grey Art Gallery’s excellent exhibition of Latin American Geometric Abstraction.  In Miami, it seemed to be all over the place.  Each piece consists of several dozen vertical slats that jut out a few millimeters from the support; the background and each side of the slat can be colored differently.  As you move from left to right, your eye sees more or less of the sides of the slats and more or less of the background color and so the piece appears to change color as your eye integrates the colors of the work differently.

At Art Miami, I liked the spacious environs for the show — each gallery had room to breathe — and thought that throughout the show there was a very high level of work that looked good on the walls.  One gem was Nathan Slate Joseph‘s “Orange Step” from Sundaram Tagore Gallery (I found myself wondering where we could put it; unfortunately it was beyond my budget…); Joseph welds together galvanized steel plates fused with colorful pigments and this particular piece’s three dimensional, sculptural aspects were particularly eye-catching.  Other familiar work included a John Zinsser painting and several of his drawings after Warhol at (the newly re-titled) Graham.

Red Dot across the street from Art Miami

Scope felt like an extension of Art Miami — that’s a good thing — with a lot of eye catching fare.  Red Dot, unfortunately, was a bit of a disappointment; a few highs but much of the time I was thinking, “Need to keep moving”.

Aqua‘s opening reception had a relaxed, casual atmosphere.  Some  work from a gallery I visit regularly, McKenzie Fine Art, made one of the gallerized hotel rooms look familiar.  I’m kicking myself for forgetting to visit the room where Joanne Mattera‘s work was featured — I had hoped to see it in person (her blog is a very helpful resource of tips for artists as well as for reports on Art Basel).

We looked

We really enjoyed Pulse, partially because we had a pass for the opening brunch but mostly because it was a nice-sized fair with a variety of work, much of which we thought was creative and fun.  One artist whose work caught our eye was Karin Waskiewicz at Shroeder, Romero & Shredder gallery.  She carves out wonderfully complex, overlapping patterns into layers and layers of acrylic paint, revealing swarms of colors at multiple levels.

INK was definitely worth a visit for the diversity of prints and works on paper that are (mostly, but not always) in the lower price ranges.  One nifty piece was a Lichtenstein painting on blue “rowlux”, a highly reflective, brightly colored “multi-lensed” film.

NADA was also fun and worth a visit; the location up north right on the beach was a nice change of pace from the other venues.  This definitely had the most “contemporary” feel of the fairs we visited, which I mean mostly in a good way, but some of it was of the head-scratching sort.

Beach View From the Back of NADA

The biggest fair, of course, was Art Basel.  It is, indeed, massive.  Unfortunately, both times we made it into the convention center (for the Vernissage and to explore more thoroughly a few days later) we had to wait on long lines for entry or ticketing.  But once in, there was quite a lot to behold, from the very blue chip to the much more edgy.  Also, since we waited until Friday to tour the entire show, by that point we had seen so much art at the other fairs that our brains were a bit frazzled.  A few great Gerhard Richter paintings stand out in my memory (especially a triptych).

Stormtroopers and Mr. Potato Head, having a party

One problem with trying to get through so many fairs in such a short amount of time is that you really can’t spend much time with any particular artwork.  I’m glad that I did this once, but in the future I think I’d try to slow down a bit so that I could take in more than just the pure optics of the artwork I’m walking past.

 

Found Art? (outside the convention center)

Tips For Art Basel Miami Beach Visitors

If you can plan out what day you’re going to attend Art Basel Miami, I would definitely recommend getting your tickets ahead of time.  Although you’ll have to pay the obnoxious Ticketmaster fee (assuming you don’t have a free pass of some kind), it’s worth it to avoid waiting in the long box office lines.  You’d think that with all of the money flowing around, the fair organizers could hire a few more people to run the box office.  The last thing you want to do is wait on line for 45 minutes (or more) before walking around the tremendously huge art fair: doing so does not put you in the right frame of mind to enjoy art!

Also, don’t count on the free shuttles to get you between the convention center on Miami Beach and the art fairs in downtown Miami.  They don’t run on a published schedule and so you might wait a *long* time for the next shuttle to arrive.  Most of the time we ended up taking a cab after getting frustrated by the wait for a shuttle.  The shuttles to and from NADA were much better!  Kudos to the organizers and the company that ran the NADA shuttles: they were frequent, they were on time, and the drivers were very professional and knowledgeable.

Wear comfortable shoes!  I brought two pairs of shoes that I knew from previous experience were good for walking long distances and that made a big difference.

Confirm your reservations ahead of time!  Although I used the Basel-approved travel agent to book my hotel, when we arrived the hotel had no record of our reservation!  It was a good thing that (a) they had rooms available, and (b) that I had a printout of my reservation from the travel agency.  Even in this digital world where these things ought not to be necessary, next time I will call ahead to confirm!

We had a lot of decent food, none that was bad, but a few places were memorable.  For a quick bite near Art Miami / Scope / Red Dot, we enjoyed the Cuban diner, Enriqueta’s (con sabor).  Large plates of simple but tasty food at great prices hit the spot.  For a more creative menu, we had an excellent lunch at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill a few blocks away (try the not-so-traditional hamburger — yumm!); nice, spacious, bustling restaurant with friendly staff.  For an expensive but beautiful and very tasty pan-Asian meal, try The Restaurant at The Setai (the food was great, though this restaurant, bar, and hotel was also worth it for the people-watching and the gorgeous cocktail lounge).

Collins Park had some impressive looking trees,which I liked more than the sculpture

 

For November I’m exhibiting a number of recent (new!) paintings at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, NJ.  This month’s display runs from November 11 through December 4, 2011, and there’s an opening reception (for featured artists Joe Kazimierczyk and Beatrice Bork) on Saturday, November 12, from 5-8pm.

The first of the new paintings is Seeing Red, a piece that contains about a dozen layers of lightly tinted glaze in between my personal marks, so that older marks are buried under deeper and deeper layers of paint, pushing them both physically and visually deeper into the painting.

Seeing Red, acrylic on panel, 20x20

I also am exhibiting three new paintings in my ongoing “Center of Narrative Gravity” series.  These are paintings where interacting colors swirl around to create a nebulous sort of center whose appearance varies depending upon your perspective when looking at the piece.  Here are numbers 21, 22, and 23 in the series:

The final two paintings up this month are Time’s Texture (an older piece) as well as Tango (for which I don’t have a photograph right now).  Artists’ Gallery is located at 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, NJ, and regular hours of operation are Friday-Saturday-Sunday from 11am-6pm.

This month I have eight paintings hanging at Artists’ Gallery (18 Bridge St, Lambertville, NJ), including this new one entitled Attractors #2.

Attractors #2, acrylic on panel, 24×24

I’m also exhibiting one of my long-time favorites, “In Light of Our Knowledge”:

In Light Of Our Knowledge

The show is up now through Sunday, October 2, with regular gallery hours Fri-Sat-Sun from 11am-6pm.  There’s an opening reception for this month’s featured artists, Richard Harrington and Charles Katzenbach, and their bicycle-themed exhibition on Saturday, Sep 10, 2011, from 4-8pm.

I’m happy to report that I have two paintings included in this year’s Absolutely Abstract show at the Philadelphia Sketch Club.  The exhibition is up through September 17, 2011, and the gallery is open M/W/F/Sa/Su from 1-5pm.  The Sketch Club is located at 235 South Camac Street in the heart of Philadelphia.  The reception for the show is Sunday, September 11, 2011, from 2-4pm.

Both of these paintings are acrylic on panel, 20×20 inches:

Center of Narrative Gravity #15

Center of Narrative Gravity #6

This month I have six paintings on display at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, NJ.  The exhibition is on display through Sunday, Septmber 4.

Two of the paintings are new ones, both 12×18 inches, acrylic on panel:

Meandering, acrylic on panel, 12×18

 

In addition to these, I’m exhibiting two paintings from my Center of Narrative Gravity series (#17 and #14, both 12×12 inches), the painting Enaction (36×24), and the painting Continuum (20×16).

Artists’ Gallery is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11am-6pm and is located at 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, NJ.

I have been very busy painting and will be exhibiting three new paintings this month at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, NJ (18 Bridge St).

The largest of the three is The Affect Effect:

The Affect Effect

The Affect Effect, acrylic on panel, 24×24

Also up this month are two smaller paintings, continuations in my series, “Centers of Narrative Gravity”.

Center of Narrative Gravity #16, acrylic on panel, 12×12

Center of Narrative Gravity #17, acrylic on panel, 12×12

This month’s exhibition runs through July 31, 2011.  There’s an opening reception for the gallery’s featured artists, John Treichler and Alla Podolsky, on Saturday, July 9, from 2-6pm.

 

This month at Artists’ Gallery I’m exhibiting an older painting, Stormy Thinking, as well as two brand new paintings:

Center of Narrative Gravity #15, acrylic on panel, 20x20

Center of Narrative Gravity #14, acrylic on panel, 12x12

The show is up now through July 4, 2011.  The opening reception for this month’s featured exhibition (Jo-Ann Osnoe and Eric Rhinehart) is Saturday, June 11, from 4-7pm.  (Regular gallery hours are Fri-Sat-Sun 11am-6pm, with extended hours for Lambertville’s Friday Night Fireworks…).

Last week my wife and I headed up to Boston and Hartford for a quick vacation to visit some old friends and to do some sightseeing.  We lucked out on the weather, which had been raining days upon end before our trip, but was only raining intermittently while we were traveling (a big improvement, according to the locals).

On Sunday we explored Boston’s Museum of Fine Art, a fantastic museum that is both manageable and diverse.  It is presently undergoing some renovations and/or additions that make navigation, however, slightly detour-filled.  I recently read The Invention of Painting in America, a brief meditation in three lectures on how painting developed in America.  It has a number of images from the MFA that were a pleasure to see in person, including this Copley painting (which is delightful, except that I hate squirrels given the past damage they have done to my house).

Henry Pelham (Boy with a Squirrel)

According to author Rosand, when Copley presented this painting (via Benjamin West) to the Society for Artists in England, West’s reply was: “…at first Sight the Picture struck the Eye as being to liney [sic], which was judged to have arose from there being so much neatness in the lines, which indeed as far as I was Capable of judgeing was some what the Case.”

I had forgotten that one of my favorite paintings of all time, Sargent’s “Daughters of E.D. Boit”, was in the Boston MFA and so was very excited to come across it in the gallery.  Unfortunately, its current positioning leaves it subjected to a distracting glare coming from the adjacent gallery’s natural lighting.  This is one of those paintings that cause you to stop in your tracks (as it did when I saw it at the Met some years ago).

Sargent's "Daughters of E.D. Boit"

The museum was featuring a Dale Chihuly exhibition which was packed, fun, and more interesting than I had expected.  In the adjacent store, a fascinating video demonstrated the hard, sweaty work by a team of experts that goes into producing these complex assemblages of curved, colored glass.

Dale Chihuly at MFA in Boston

MFA has a many other treasures, including a few that I stopped to take quick photos of (top-to-bottom: Cornelis Bega, Edward Hopper, Norman Lewis):

Cornelis Bega, Edward Hopper, Norman Lewis

After MFA, we proceeded a few blocks away to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum,  which I have to say was a disappointment.  It seems that she was more of a hoarder than a collector and most of the works of art are hung in bad light in ways that simply aren’t meant for you to appreciate the works themselves (to be fair, the museum is undergoing a renovation that may improve the lighting).  Rather, you’re supposed to be impressed, I suppose, by the density of the hanging.  Unlike Barnes, however, there’s not much excitement, not that many great paintings, and not a lot of coherence to the quirkiness.  One standout, however, is the beautiful courtyard that you can view from three levels and four sides throughout the building.  However, no photographs are allowed on the premises 🙁

That night we took in a Red Sox game against the Cubs at Fenway, my first time at the great ballpark.  I didn’t have a rooting interest and for safety reasons remained non-committal.  Sox fans were well behaved until around the 5th inning, when a group of women who had been doubling up on beers all night began abusing a poor Cubs fan behind us.  Red Sox won 5-1.

Red Sox vs Cubs at Fenway, May 2011

On Monday we walked around Cambridge, taking in both Harvard Square and just a bit of MIT.  Mostly I was looking for bookstores.  Harvard Square wasn’t as cute as I remembered it, but Raven Books was nice.

View from the 2nd floor of the very nice Starbucks at Harvard Square

The MIT Press Bookstore (as I remember from a long-ago trip to Beantown) is awesome, with tons of fascinating books on my subjects of interest: psychology, science, art, and design.

On Tuesday, we hit the galleries and shops on Newbury Street.  The highlight was the Barbara Krakow Gallery, one of the few on the street that focused on well known (to me, anyway) contemporary artists.  My wife and I loved the Kate Shepherd and Anni Albers show, especially Shepherd’s new use of puzzle compositions of laser-cut wood.  Also on the street are several co-op galleries (I think) that exhibited some high quality representational paintings in a variety of genres; there are also some secondary galleries with things like Chagall prints, of which I’m always suspect and not particularly interested.  At the end of the street we hit the Boston Common, where we paused just long enough for this photo:

Boston Common

On Wednesday we drove out to Hartford and visited the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, a pleasant, medium-sized museum with a focus on early American art but which also includes a decent collection of more modern and contemporary work and which featured a small but very worthwhile exhibition of Monet waterlily paintings.  I enjoyed the Sol LeWitt wall paintings in the lobby:

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing at Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford

On the last day of our trip, we took a slight detour to visit the New Britian Museum of American Art, a smaller museum that focuses on American art with strengths in colonial portraiture, Hudson River School paintings, American Impressionism, and the Ash Can School.  We arrived early Thursday morning but the musuem was already open and absolutely packed with school children on field trips who were zooming around the galleries and in some cases being asked to identify which paintings they liked best, voting by the placement of small cards on the ground in front of their choices.  It’s great to expose the kids to the art, though I was terrified for the docents as I watched children dart here and there just a few inches away from the precious paintings!

The New Britain Museum of American Art

The highlight of the museum (in addition to a complex Thomas Hart Benton mural) and one of the draws to our visit is Graydon Parrish’s “The Cycle of Terror and Tragedy: September 11, 2001“, which amazingly gets very little mention on the museum’s website (you have to search with Google to find their blog with details).  (Parrish is an Austin, Texas, based classical painter who founded an online forum where I’ve participated in a few discussions about the nature of art and related matters.)

The painting is truly a master piece and, as you would expect, is much better to see in person than in reproductions.  One can immediately appreciate the massive amount of effort, planning, and technical excellence required to implement the monument (nearly 18 feet wide and more than 6 feet tall).  For me, the response to the painting is different from other monuments with which I’m familiar.  At the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, for instance, the seemingly endless list of names etched into the black wall (with mourners taking rubbings of those names) hits you viscerally in the gut.  A similarly lachrymose reaction grabs you at the Oklahoma City monument where the repetitive forms of empty chairs and a reflecting pool remind you immediately of the personal losses incurred.  Parrish’s memorial is a more intellectual thing, requiring some decoding to make sense of it, and as such, the emotional reaction isn’t as direct.  What are we looking at here?  How do the two twin towering figures represent both Terror and Tragedy?  Why are the innocents holding the toy planes?  Ironically, though I’m personally very interested in metaphor as it’s related to cognitive psychology, I’m somewhat linguistically challenged when it comes to artistic allegory, a type of metaphor where the figures of a painting symbolize something else, requiring a complex interpretation to get at the artist’s meaning.  Nevertheless, I was fascinated with the overall construction of the painting, the perfect composition, and completely refined (yet not too crisp), all-over treatment of the canvas.  In particular, one of the fallen figures virtually spills forth from the surface into the gallery:

Detail from Graydon Parrish's "Cycle of Terror and Tragedy"

Finally, following our visit to New Britain, we headed home, unsuccessfully avoiding pre-holiday rush hour traffic due to a massive backup at the George Washington Bridge that Google Navigation was unable to direct us around.  Four museums, many galleries, meals with three separate long-missed friends and their spouses, and a baseball game:  a very nice trip, indeed!

View from our hotel in Boston, from The Prudential Center to Copley Square

On Thursday, with the weather slated to be a perfectly cloudless day, I headed back into the city to catch a few shows before they closed and to attend a few openings. (I also thought about actually buying a painting that caught my eye last week, but alas it was SOLD when I returned to the gallery…)

I started off on the upper east side at the Whitney to see the Glenn Ligon show. I like the formal qualities of the disintegrating stenciled text pieces, but didn’t have the heart to really dig into the rest of the artwork, whose conceptual nature requires a consideration of the politics around race. (I am reminded of a recent paper that shows judges are unlikely to grant paroles right before lunch; after lunch, parole rates jump back to 65%… Perhaps I ought not see art right before lunch?)

On another floor, the “Breaking Ground” exhibition displays several rooms worth of art from the museum’s 1931 opening. The highlight was the room containing two Bluemners, Hopper’s “Early Sunday Morning”, a few Stuart Davis paintings, and a few Charles Scheeler — all great stuff (alas, no photography was allowed).

The Fuller Building, 57th & Madison

After the Whitney I headed south along Madison, where good lunch spots with room for one on a nice sunny day are hard to find, but did manage a decent meal on 60th Street. From there I proceeded to the Fuller Building where I finally got to see the “70 Years of Abstract Painting” show that includes a small piece by my former instructor, John Zinsser, as well as a nice collection of paintings by notables such as Anuszkiewicz, Albers, Held, Hofmann, Nozkowski, and others. The final room in the exhibition is hung salon-style and provides quite a feast for the eyes.

Across the street Pace has an exhibition of de Kooning figurative paintings and drawings (the best of which, IMHO, are the ones where he stayed within the color range of yellow-to-peach-to-orange without too much green), and around the corner D. Wigmore takes on an earlier slice of abstraction history than McCoy with a focus on (primarily) geometric American abstraction of the 1930s and 1940s.

I felt compelled to stop by MoMA to check out “German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse” since I was in the neighborhood, but it wasn’t really my thing. I liked the Kandinsky and the Beckmann paintings, where color and brushwork are prominent, but the more graphic pieces, often woodcuts, aren’t as interesting, at least not on a quick stroll (this show might be worth another visit if I had some more time to spend with the graphic items, but there’s something about the drawing style of many of these artists that just doesn’t pull me in).

Jennifer Bartlett in the atrium at MoMA. Click for larger view.

I took the E train down to Chelsea and caught a few regular hour exhibitions that I had missed earlier in the week, most notably Tim Maguire and Donald Judd. Maguire’s gorgeous paintings at Von Lintel are exciting and they look great from across the room and from up close where you can see the overlapping washes of color (that mimic the printing process) and the purposeful disruptions to the surface in the form of splotches of color (or removed color) that reads almost as photographic grain from far away. The subject matter in this show is flowers, up close, and is an interesting contrast to the Naoto Nakagawa show I mentioned a few weeks ago in terms of close-up, macro views of flowers with a highly personalized style of coloring.

I wasn’t sure about heading all the way down to 19th Street to the Donald Judd show, since his work can be so hit or miss for me, perhaps depending upon my own mood. But I enjoyed most of these box constructions at David Zwirner. Each of the pieces in the show is a large open-topped “box” with a silvery finish. Looking into the pieces over the edges of the box you see a super-glossy floor, often in chromatic hues like bright orange. Crossing from side to side within each box are a number of thin vertical planks of varying heights and distances from the ground. In the best of the pieces, there’s some nifty color interaction going on that changes as you catch the work from different angles, such as when the orange floor reflects upon a bright phthalo blue plank causing the plank to look nearly black from one angle but bright blue from another.

After a quick bite to eat for dinner it was time for a couple of openings. One that I enjoyed was Torben Geihler at Leo Koenig. These large geometric abstractions, according to the press release, are based upon musical structures and the Fibonacci sequence, though I read them as crystalized, desaturated Brice Mardens, with some similar formal issues about approaching edges, overlapping structures, and pentimenti.

On 28th Street, there was a crowd, a buzz, and a lot of fantastic “photograms” at the Foley Gallery’s Edward Mapplethorpe show.  I wasn’t at all familiar with this artist until I heard about the exhibition a few days ago and then read the fascinating back story about his relationship with his famous brother, Robert (whose work is also on display the next block northward). In “The Variations,” Mapplethorpe creates unique photographic prints without a camera, purely through chemical processes and (I presume) creative exposure to light. The result are depth-filled, warm-toned, Pollock-like allover abstractions that, like Pollock, are exciting to examine at multiple scales, up close and from across the room. In many of the pieces, the splashy marks remind me of a Edgerton “Milk Drop Corona”. The artist looked happy and I can understand why, as the crowd was into the show and the exhibition looked great.

Photo Impressions of Rush Hour Traffic in Chelsea (c) Andrew Werth

After the Affordable Art Fair, my wife and I headed over to Chelsea where I had  a long list of galleries for us to visit.  On this trip, there was much to admire!

We started off on 29th Street on the upper edges of the art district with Alexander Ross.  I first admired Ross’s work when he exhibited at Feature a long time ago and then enjoyed his work in the fantastic Whitney show, Remote Viewing.  I last saw him at Marianne Boesky, but that show seemed to be lacking a certain oomph.  In this show at David Nolan, he’s back to the creative, dimensional clay-like compositions with topological painterliness that I find eye-catching.

I hadn’t seen the listing for the show, but was very glad that we stumbled into the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at Sean Kelly, also on 29th Street.  While they were setting up for a panel discussion we had a chance to examine the 50 photographs, each selected from the artist’s catalog by someone from a different state.  Most of the photographs are not of the controversial, sexually charged type that is usually associated with Mapplethorpe.  Instead, you find a fantastic collection of formally beautiful images ranging from still lifes to portraits (I especially liked the young Susan Sarandon and the old Willem de Kooning).  I’d highly recommend the show to anyone who loves photography.

We hit a few galleries on 28th and 27th before reaching Robert Miller Gallery on 26th Street where we were both taken in by the work of Robert Greene.  In his present body of paintings, Greene paints oil abstractions on sheets of vellum, which he then slices into strips (ranging from about 1/4 inch wide to several inches wide) and then re-arranges those strips mounted on aluminum panels.  In monochrome works the effect hails from minimal color field painting (with great texture up close and occasionally metallic reflectivity).  In the multi-colored abstractions, you feel more of an inheritance from abstract expressionism.

In a building I don’t get to often enough at 210 Eleventh Avenue, we happened upon Colin Brown’s beautiful nighttime cityscapes at Fischbach Gallery.  Easily passing for photographs at just a few feet away, as you look close you can see incredible detail and paint handling (actually, these pieces are white boards coated with a carbon, charcoal, or nickel black layer that are then carved into to reveal the white lights of the city).

On 24th Street, we dutifully attended the John Chamberlain show of crushed car part sculptures at his new Gagosian home.  For the most part, though, it’s like listening to poetry in Swahili:  I know there’s something formal there that might be beautiful or meaningful, but I don’t speak the language.  One piece, I thought, was stunning:  a 25-30 foot high, narrow construction of chrome, black, and perhaps platinum colored metals whose beauty was evident despite my language deficiency.  A helpful article in today’s NY Times shed some more light on the artist and I can at least sympathize with his tiring of trying to explain his particular artistic vocabulary.

Across the street is something completely different, another tour de force exhibition of photorealistic oil paintings by Yigal Ozeri (& assistants) at Mike Weiss.  Amazingly detailed, Ozeri’s latest work continues to feature muses at play or pose in nature.  Here, the photographic source material is particularly evident through the blurred tall grasses surrounding the figures, the result of a shallow depth of field.  A few paintings on canvas are slightly more chromatic but I think perhaps the canvas texture takes something away from the gorgeous surfaces of the works on paper.

We were starting to run out of steam as we reached 22nd Street and so skipped another Chamberlain show at Pace and hastily skimmed Jasper Johns at Matthew Marks (I love much of Johns’ work, and particularly liked his catenary paintings from a few years ago at the same gallery, but this show of drawings and cast sculptures didn’t have the same sort of immediate formal intrigue to keep us lingering).

On 21st Street, we joined the crowds at the newer Chelsea Gagosian Gallery for another must-see, museum-quality exhibition at this flexible, changeable space:  Picasso and Marie-Thérèse.  We forgot about our tired feet as while we took in an amazing quantity of Picasso paintings, all inspired by one of Picasso’s muses.  Useful photographs and later on some video clips of Marie-Thérèse give you a sense of who this model is that struck Picasso so forcefully.

Finally, before heading homeward, we caught a few more shows on 20th Street, most interestingly the steel-and-car-paint sculptures of Luke Achterberg at Kathryn Markel.  While the colors and materials may seem to be related to Chamberlain, and perhaps this show is timed to coincide with the two crushed car exhibitions, the effect is completely different:  light looking, lyrical curves hang on the wall in bright colors, with references to calligraphy and perhaps Lichtenstein brushstrokes.  These works are written in a language that’s easy to understand and enjoy, no translation required.

This was Gallery Week in New York City and so the galleries were more crowded than usual for a Saturday in May.  And unlike my last couple of trips to Manhattan, there were many shows that I loved.  My wife and I headed first towards the Empire State Building where this season’s Affordable Art Fair takes up residence across the street.  It seemed to me that the quality of art was better this time around, with more paintings that I’d want to own or whose skillfulness or creativity I could admire.  Still, the fair has shifted away from “affordable” samplings of well known artists (e.g., Mangold, LeWitt, etc.) and more towards “affordable” pieces by artists I’ve mostly never heard of (“affordable” these days means less than $10K).  There were many galleries from across the pond — London had a large footprint this year — as well as the other side of the river, with Brooklyn having a noticeable presence.

One of the themes here (and also later in Chelsea) was a preponderance of hyper-glossy, “clear coat” like resin finishes on paintings.  Although in some cases I like this look — it can boost saturation or provide a sense of depth to the paintings — I do wonder about what it does for the works over time, since all of the resins I’ve researched claim to yellow with age. And when you see it over and over again it starts to look like a gimmick.

One of the first galleries on our path was Quantum Contemporary where I enjoyed the land/seascapes on brushed aluminum panels by Stiliana Alexieva.  The texture of the metal is scrubbed one way for sky and another for land and each is painted carefully in oil so that you get nifty atmospheric effects as you catch the reflections differently on the painting.  I also liked a different kind of work on metal, the photography-based prints on thin, flexible sheets of steel by Fabienne Cuter at Artemisia Gallery.  She takes photographs of hardware, wires, chips, or other similar items and after some creative manipulation imprints the images onto the stainless steel in ways that give a sense of depth to the otherwise thin supports.

My favorite piece at the show, however, was a beautiful painting by David Febland at Fraser Gallery entitled Waiting on Masters.  In contrast to the splashy New York scenes of Febland’s that I’ve seen (and enjoyed) a number of times at his TriBeCa studio and elsewhere, this painting depicts — in my interpretation — museum-goers sitting outside a museum waiting for it to open so they can see the paintings of the masters.

Following an excellent lunch in Koreatown, we headed over to Chelsea where there’s a lot to see.  I’ll highlight a few exhibitions of note in my next post.

Well, my 2-person exhibition wrapped up last weekend at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, NJ.  But the art goes on!  This month, I have four paintings hanging:  Change Over Time, Passages, Center of Narrative Gravity #6, and Emergent Materialism #1.

This month, Michael Schweigart and Norine Kevolic are featured at the gallery in Meditations on Nature, and it promises to be a fantastic exhibition.  The opening reception is on Saturday, May 14, from 5-8pm.