Fresh Paint
Saturday, May 08, 2004
The Navy Pier Writeup
Well, I did it again. Got most of my Navy Pier thing done and then hit Esc in Blogger and it disappeared.

So [stretching] will try again.

Better than last year, is what you all want to hear, though still oh, so conservative. Lighter, fewer exhibitors, more spread out. A friend tells me that even so, I missed a good quarter of it, only tripping thru Gescheidle and Roy Boyd at the very tail end, as we were rushing to get out to other busy social calender events.

These are impressions, possibly not backed up by facts. There are some entire categories of art that I'm apparently incapable of even "seeing", such as most sculpture, unless I actually trip over it, such as these giant metal spiders some gallery had spread out in a large space, and photography.

Last year the only thing worth looking at was the printmaking, especially the giant Judy Pfaffs at Tandem -- this year, not so much. Seemed like there were fewer New York galleries, more west coast and far east, especially Korea, since the threat of SARS seems to have abated. Very very few EU galleries -- a spread from Karsten Greve in Switzerland showed nice Peter Schmersal figures. The Latin Americans seemed very disappointing, old, tired expressionist-like stuff supposed to be energetic but looking dated and dead, no sexiness.

The 3 Diebenkorn black and white drawings at Hackett Friedman had more going for them than much contemporary work. Pencil drawing into acrylic and ink, defining a seated figure's breasts was just yummy, and a simple wash with defining lines for an "Ocean Park" study made me look and look.

At Nancy Hoffman, 2 stunning Joseph Raffael watercolors, of spring and fall, giant, oversized, detailed and specific, with perfect color.

Also, gray and blue washy watercolor by Hockney at Richard Gray, portrait of Gregory Evans II. Other Hockney stuff there showed his varied interests and recent techniques (the strange globby still lifes, for example). They also had Jennifer Bartlett's map series, which I'd been wanting to see, but was quite disappointed in. Not just technique-wise, but just wanted more. The last work I liked of hers was her plaid forests.

That's just a few of the old-timers. A great Auerbach, a Picasso drawing of Le Saltimbaque from 1905 makes you want to throw down your art-making utensils, so perhaps that's what we of the 21st century should be doing, finding new and better ones.

Several spaces had a wonderful presentation of small works, on shelves, with everything mixed together. A Sol Lewitt study on paper next to a great pencil drawing by Linda Karshan at Edward Tyler Nahem. Somewhere else, small Gerhardt Richter works were casually included in a row by lesser-known artists. Made me want to own all of them -- impossible (for me, at least) since even the Karshan drawing was around $1800.

Speaking of lower priced art, at Paul Thiebaud was a wonderful drawing of "Woman in Ochre Cape," also with a Diebenkorn-like influence, by Deborah Barrett. I was so excited by this drawing that I asked for catalog, or whether images on line, but assistant said she was new with them, they had nothing, and she was self-taught, but they had a bio. So I read it and discover that her background is a B.A. in Creative Writing, not in the visual arts, though she's been exhibiting since the 90s. A fellow exile! 2 Morandis and a David Park painting there too (unless my notes are all messed up).

One problem: I think just about anyone under 30 was exiled from Navy Pier show this year, though there were a few art spaces. Roy Boyd had dozens of Vadim Katznelson acrylic on mylar "clusters" of carefully spaced palette paint splotches, which was very inviting, though in a way sterile, arranged across the spectrum, and up and down.

Gescheidle had a little plastic ducky pond, where you could choose your own Mike Lash drawing for $1000 bucks, or select a ducky and buy the numbered drawing for $100, or if you didn't like the drawing the ducky chose for you, argue with the gallery assistant for $10 and get a different one. (I may have these prices a little wrong). The assistant said that most people just wanted the ducky itself! Similar to this was a sweet "flirt booth" in the publications area, where someone would give the eye to anyone walking by, and you could buy a polaroid of the flirtation for $2. Yesss...

Finally, some recent painting worth mentioning -- at DC Moore, eerie, twisted portraits by Anne Harris, absolutely a must-see. She currently lives in Chicago, I'm told, but doesn't show here at the moment.

And just about anything at the London gallery, Long & Ryle. Particularly liked those by Simon Casson, largish multifaceted, classical displacements and a still life that makes you feel like you're moving quickly between centuries while taking your glasses off and rubbing your eyes. And a narrative series by Ramiro Fernandez Saus with show announcement shaped like a stalking tiger with a bird on its back.

Am off to the Stray Show this afternoon/evening. Was happy to see that it just opened for the day at [yawning] 2:00 (which is about when I got up today -- too keyed up with visions in my head last night) and will run till 10:00.

Will post this and take off. Blogger is warning us that they will be changing software tomorrow, with new unspecified features, so this may be the last you hear of Fresh Paint for some time, knowing well how "upgrades" tend to crash.

... Will make my own backup of my blogs.

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