Thursday, August 10, 2006

Chelsea Sightings.

My intention today was to see the galleries in Williamsburg. It turned out that they were (but with a single exception) all closed. I do realize that summer is a slow time, but what the hell? Since that was all that had appealed to me about going there, we left for Chelsea.

There is a tremendous concentration of galleries in Chelsea. In the Chelsea art booklet (July-Aug 2006), there are about 200 listings. For the first time on this trip I was especially fortunate- these shows are due to close for the season. John Morris, owner of the Digging Pitt, was especially helpful in making some recommendations for what I should see.

Richard Serra had a show at Gagosian. I never realized how bored I would be by Serra's work. Big blocks and sheets of iron. Whoah... I saw enough of that on the construction sites at Asbury Park. Surrounded by clean white walls and on top of hardwood floors (even with cute girls in the reception area)... this stuff is still just raw material. I'll have to dig deeper into his oeuvre so that I don't remain a philistine.

The Derek Eller Gallery has a sculptural tableau employing a cartoon-like colonial American soldier pissing into the open chest wound of a victim. And it was animated too! It reminded me of going to Chuck E. Cheese as a kid. I liked it. Peter Caine is an artist to watch, and he has a solo coming up. If you live in NYC, go see it. Great fun.

The folks at D'Amelio Terras had some inscrutable installation works. The folks there were quite nice, and they miss John a lot. I learned how to automate wind chimes and how to get better television reception without cable.

Clementine Gallery had some interesting montage works on large sheets of plastic, by Elana Beelaerts. Also, Dieuke Spaans does some harrowing portraits and paints horses big and scary-like. I like the gallery, and the receptionist was nice.

J. Bennett Fitts' show at the Julie Saul Gallery is quite nice. He has photographed motel pools, many of them no longer in use and filled with brackish water. The shots are evocative of isolation and disillusionment. I'll be looking into more of his work.

My favorite gallery was Mixed Greens. Andy Diaz Hope uses pharmaceutical capsules, with small portions of photographs wrapped up and visible through their shells, in montage patterns to create portraits of his hungover friends. His partner-in-crime Laurel Roth uses a mix of domesticity and fantasy to create installations chock full of magical realism. Her work is a combination of the profane and transcendent. The staff at Mixed Greens was extremely helpful and generous. When I asked to see the work of a photographer that they represent (but whose work was not displayed) they were very accomodating. They pulled it out of storage and unwrapped it for my viewing pleasure. This was the most pleasant experience I had at any gallery during this entire trip.

The last arts destination we stopped at was the Chelsea Art Museum. I was quite happy to pay half-price by entering after 6PM. They had an abstract photography show on the first floor. Photo-shopped, scratched and blown up beyond all recognition... the shots left me a bit cold. But they have an incredible installation in the pit. Bjorn Melhaus, a crazy Scandinavian, recorded American war film sountracks and used snippets as a score for his muli-television monitor light show. I was spellbound, and lingered longer in his piece than I spent in the rest of the museum put together. It was like some demented disco for American armchair patriots.

Some of our targets were already closed for the season. I'd like to go back again to see Edward Winkelman's Plus Ultra Gallery, the International Print Center, and the Luhring Augustine Gallery. I could easily be caught up in the Chelsea galleries for days if I took my time to see everything. Best of all, besides the museum, it was all free. Can't beat that.

I guess a trip to NYC wouldn't be complete without a celebrity sighting. Ours didn't come until the last day... We went into a cafe on ninth avenue to get a mocha, and who do we see talking to himself in the corner? Ethan Hawke. Either he has totally lost his mental stability or he was going over some lines for an upcoming project. He was gesticulating and making his trademark facial expressions of astonishment and vulnerability. To his credit, he did have what appeared to be a script in his lap. To my credit I didn't let him know how much I liked his work (in Dead Poet's Society).


Anonymous icramcastle said...

thank-you thank-you thankyou!
I look forawrd to visit ny and keep your suggestions in cheasle one day,too.Hey,you never asked me to go along on your epense payed vacation. Have you ever seen the old park at conneyote lake (sp)

11:48 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

No... actually I had every intention of visiting Conneault Lake about two weeks ago, until I discovered that they were closed on Sundays. Hmmmm... maybe this week??

3:52 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

Tastes Like Chicken is a raw alternative space near Morgan avenue on the fringes of Williamsburg. I have never been there and i don't know if it will be around or not. It's very wild west location gives one an idea how far down the L line artists are being pushed. I think i meantioned it partly because the director is from Pittsburgh and Paul Brainard, who is in my next show was in a show there.

NY has a number of galleries run by ex pittsburghers, Gracie Mansion, the legendary East Villiage pioneer was from Pittsburgh.

Plus Ultra, Schroeder Romero, Priska c. Jusscka, Bellwether and Roebling Hall are all galleries that have moved from Brooklyn to Chelsea.

8:14 PM  

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