Fresh Paint
Saturday, May 08, 2004
You Should Go
Just got back from The Stray Show part of the Art Chicago experience and am still thinking about some of the paintings and drawings and weird stuff exhibited there.

First, if you're allergic to cigarette smoke, don't even think of going. I'd forgotten how much the young smoke these days. Yikes! The atmosphere was very much one-year-out-of-the-BFA-program in intensity and quality of the work. No MFA pretensions here. Nearly every space had a mix of the exquisite and the dreadful. Hardly any video or computer stuff or "unsaleables." Think that if you show up late tomorrow, you can make some incredible deals on quite good art. Some of the spaces had more in common with the Sunday flea market at the bankrupt drive-in than with a so-called gallery. And some of the exhibitors weren't actually galleries at all but groups of friends who basically rented the space for a one-shot project.

So here we go:

Hartmut Austen paintings on canvas and board, black near-representational shapes and washes. At Telegraph (Detroit). Wonderful. I think they were my favorite pieces in the whole show.

Michael Harrington at Katharine Mulherin (Toronto). Lots of strange, dark, 1820ish landscapes with small blurry figures. Narratives of something unknowable.

Tom Walsh at Cactus Bra Space (San Antonio). Camouflage paint cutouts on beautifully finished wood. Sense of design just wonderful.

ATM Gallery (New York) has Dave Cerne landscapes. Traditional, sort of, but the surface and brush strokes very strong and form-building, nothing mushy and sentimental about them. Very observed. Gallery guy says the painter is obsessive and works all the time.

Katy Fischer at Miracle Editions (Chicago). She does ballpoint pen drawings of landscapes, mostly, last seen at Julia Friedman, but you can get a repro of these drawings here. This space wins my prize for most-needed new gallery. They specialize in multiples of things you don't usually think of having multiples of. For example, sculpture -- water glass with titanic and leonardo di caprio. Must keep an eye on these folks. Prices are people-sized, not corporation-sized.

Just a few more. Elizabeth Saveri's tiny little paintings on wood, arranged. "My Garden," like toys, move the paintings of pots and dirt around. "Lemon Tree", a couple dozen little paintings no bigger than about 3 inches square, but different shapes and angles, from completely blue sky at top all the way to a lemon lying in the grass close to the floor. At Hudson Franklin (NY).

Julia Randall at Jeff Bailey Gallery (NY). Exquisite drawings of tongues, and tongues forming part of turkeys and chickens (for some reason). Good stuff.

And ran into Lenore D. Thomas (whose work I reviewed here for the show a few months ago at the Suburban Fine Arts Center). She was showing with a group called No Fun, and I liked it better than up in Highland Park. The bigger pieces much better, and the small pieces were down from the wall and piled and touchable on a table, where they made more sense, somehow. She said she didn't hang the work at SFAC show, and it shouldn't really have looked like that. So.

A wall of used condoms? Just reading my notes.

Finally, at the General Store (Milwaukee) are dozens and dozens of small paintings. No idea who did them, whether all by the same person or by different painters. Other stuff too, a very crowded covetous space, such quantity of stuff that the quality seemed less important. One of the 7" x 5" cheap canvases had the words, "You could have done this" printed in black on it. And yes, we all could have, but most of us don't even try or have forgotton how to just relax and do it regardless of the result.

And another final note for my knitter friends -- one charming performance piece by the guys at Western Exhibitions (Chicago). They sat in lounging chairs facing each other, crocheting a long tube, one at each end, in pink acrylic Barbie-colored yarn, just crocheting and chatting away for I don't know how long. Someone was taping it when I wandered by. And I said I'd mention it here because all you knitters would like to know.

Then picked up sliders and onion rings and a chocolate shake at White Castle, and ate most of it on the way home, one of my favorite self-indulgent dinners.

And that's it for 2004. I'm brain dead.

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