Monday, March 10, 2014

Looking At Art During Openings: Shoot The Lobster, Clearing, Sardine, Real Fine Arts, Eli Ping Frances Perkins, Bodega

Nancy Lupo at Clearing

There are many reasons why people go to art openings.  Sometimes it’s to support friends, sometimes it’s to see and be seen and sometimes it's because of sheer curiosity.  Whatever the reason, almost always it is nearly impossible to see the work on view, or at least view it in a way that is optimal.  Yet, we still go.  A few years ago I boycotted going to openings because they combined things I dislike the most; lots of people and lots of chit-chat, but as time and life goes by, you realize that supporting your friends and peers is not only beneficial in a network sort of way but in a nice person sort of way. 

Openings are a celebration.  They are not about the art on view so much as it is about the people who make it and those that run the spaces in which it is shown.  I was reading fashion reviews this weekend and it made me wish that art openings had a bit of runway presentation spectacle to it.  Everyone sits and focuses and looks and then they go drink and talk themselves till they turn blue.  But alas, art is not like this.  Art is very solitary.  I think it is best seen (usually) alone or nearly alone.  Art needs space for one to see and to think.  It is hung and installed and arranged specifically and with meaning (usually).  Openings are the anti-ideal of art viewing.  It is full of people and drinks and a main concern is to not bump into the art versus looking at it. 

This past week I went to a few openings.  Most of them had friends in them but some I went to because there seems to be a seedpod explosion of new and expanded spaces and I must see what that is all about.  Below are a few attended and the art that stood out the most, which may be telling or of some import for if something can stand out in a packed crowd maybe it has a certain something to it even in the social melee. 

Shoot The Lobster, 138 Eldridge Street, NYC, The Grand Opening

Robert Bittenbender, Georgina Braoudakis, David Flaugher, Jeffrey Joyal,
Valerie Keane, Bradley Kronz, Jason Matthew Lee, Jared Madere,
Ben Schumacher, Luke Schumacher, Dena Yago, Amy Yao

So this used to be in the back gallery space of Martos in Chelsea and it now seems to have expanded to Luxembourg and the LES.  It is run by Martos’ director Taylor Trabulus and Alexander Shulan who is an independent curator.  They had their opening, organized by Shulan, called The Grand Opening and it was full of artists who you just think the word ‘cool,’ upon seeing their names.  I went early because I was close by.  There were not many people there yet.  The space is not as raw as some spaces I have seen but it definitely has not had much done to it, if anything.  Which is fine but it felt somehow inexcusable in its flippancy.  The show was blank in a way.  It was like it blended into the haphazard quality of the space.  There was a pile of reeds, things on the walls and a giant dripping piece.  It was all just there.  There was a drawing on fabric that caught my eye.  I’m not sure who it was by but I remember liking it.  I didn’t stay long.  There was an awkward feeling about the place.  Maybe because it was so early.  Maybe because it felt vaguely dingy.  I am assuming they will fix it up some and it will look like a lot of other spaces and will be a very fine place to show a certain sort of art.  It does annoy me though, these backed spaces in which it is like prep school for the ivy league art world. I nonetheless do look forward to seeing if the space changes and how and what the work on view will be like.

Clearing, 505 Johnson Ave #10, Brooklyn, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Koenraad Dedobbeleer, Ryan Foerster, Eyan Goldman, Sayre Gomez, Patrick Jackson, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Nancy Lupo, Sean Raspet, Jesse Stecklow

I have not been to this space although I know of it and its reputation, which is good and especially successful for its location.  It is a place where location seems to not matter at all.  I went with a friend and they were in the show and then this show was filled with other people I knew.  Which was nice to see.  Seeing a work of art by someone who is not physically there is like seeing a little stand in and you just want to go to that piece and say ‘hi’ as if it was that person.   We arrived on the early side but it was full enough that it didn’t feel sparse.  I saw some people I knew and chatted.  There was a mix of young people/artists and older collector types.  The installation was nicely done, minimal in that familiar way but had enough color and variance to make it surprising at times.  I liked the works by those I personally knew in the show, Stecklow, Juliano-Villano, Lupo, Raspet, and was surprised by a set of mugs on the floor made out of ceramic that had illusions of things inside of them*.  I don’t know who it was and I can’t locate it on the site but those did stand out for me.  Clearing is an interesting place it has a feeling of galleries in Europe (which it has one in Brussels) but more it is this casualness of taste.  I recommend a trip out there if you have never been.

Sardine, 286 Stanhope Street, GF, Brooklyn, Jamison Brosseau The She Wolf

This is a space off of the Dekalb L.  It is walking distance from Clearing but it has a vaguely off the beaten path sort of feel.  It is a sweet little space with very bright lights, front windows and white walls.  On view were a few paintings by Jamison Brosseau.  I know Jamison and like Jamison and this tends to reflect on the way I feel about someone’s work but only to a degree.  The space is small so the show is sparse.  The paintings were of a set or theme in coloring and forms.  It was very pleasant but a bit paraphrased in its edit somehow.  Maybe it would have felt different though if I saw it in an empty space so that the subtle variations between them could be more discerned.  Nonetheless it is a fine little space a fine little show to pop by into if you are anywhere near by.

Real Fine Arts, 673 Meeker Ave, Brooklyn, Ned Vena, Paintings Without Borders

This space has the same vibe in certain ways as Clearing.  It is off a very busy road next to the BQE in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint cut off and it is an unassuming space, which may have once been a family doctor or real estate office, but it has a reputation and influence that exceeds expectations.  On view is Ned Vena and it is a show with industrial black rubber mats and large paintings of what look like Gs and other graphic like things.  I didn’t like it but what does that matter?  Anyways.  The crowd was very hip and attractive and you think, ‘where do all these people come from?’ And then you see a lot of your friends and people you vaguely know and try not to make eye contact with and then you leave especially if you are not drinking at the moment.  I really like that Real Fine Arts is so successful and has such an aura of oh-so-very around it but I have to admit, almost every time I see a show there I think, ‘Huh, this is it?’

Eli Ping Frances Perkins, 55-59 Chrystie St, NYC, Rose Marcus

Eli Ping is a person, a very nice guy, and he had a smaller space before and now he has a larger space with Frances Perkins so now that space is called Eli Ping Frances Perkins.  A mouthful perhaps but it was fab to hear that he/they were moving to a larger space in the LES which is in the building CANADA used to be in.  The space was raw-ish, the floors are still unfinished wood but it felt very nice and you can tell there will be a lot of nice exhibits on view there.  The inaugural show is work by Rose Marcus who I know and very much like.  The space was full but not insanely so and the work could be viewed through the gaps between people which are cropped photographs of people in public spaces and it is of their leg/waist areas.  They are blurry and the way they are produced is blurry and possibly distracting but maybe that is the point.  It fit the space though and the state it is in which is freshly painted and full of potential. 

Bodega, 167 Rivington, NYC, Plop Fall the Plums:

Tomer Aluf, Sam Anderson, Tova Carlin, Rochelle Goldberg, Carlos Reyes, Chloe Seibert 

This space used to be in Philadelphia and they apparently did so well out there that now they are here.  The new space had its opening show and it was a fete.  Located on a lower level it felt cramped but in a good way.  I went because I was curious to see their new space and also because I wanted to see some works in particular.  The crowd was hip, young and very fashionable.  There were lots of familiar faces and also those visiting from out of town.  The cement faces by Chloe Seibert, which was the primary reason I came, were fab and also there were paintings on the back and back right walls that I liked very much**.  It was very crowded and I was in and out but I was very happy to see the space and know that it will be an epicenter of new art trends to come. 

(was graciously informed by readers who these artists were)
* Patrick Jackson
**Tomer Aluf