In addition to the eight art fairs that are happening around New York this week, there are hundreds of gallery and museum exhibitions. Why not leave the four walls of the fair (well, thousands more if you count booth walls) to explore the great city?
Starting on the Upper East Side, Michael Werner Gallery is showing drawings and paintings by Richard Oelze. The German Surrealist’s work is vaporous and dense. Wooded cities emerge from fog and women dissolve into tangles of fur. They feel intimate and iconic in Werner’s handsome townhouse apartments. And they show a different, mystically Nordic forested version of Surrealism, totally exotic from that of Spain, Paris, or even London from the same era.
Werner is also exhibiting at The Art Show, the fair of the Art Dealer’s Association of America, at the Park Avenue Armory, just a few blocks away. On the way there, at its Park Ave. location, Gagosian, which is not at any of the fairs, is showing Mark Tansey’s Reverb. This show presents one sculpture and a single eponymous painting: executed entirely in shades of blue, it shows a woman and a man looking at pictures hung salon-style, reminiscent of a vernissage or other formal art event. He appears to be explaining the images to her, images which are mostly men lecturing women and other men, including photos of Woody Allen and other celebrities. Other parts of the image rhyme, using mirrors, allusions and juxtapositions (literal, philosophical and scientific) that are Tansey’s mien.
From the UES you can catch the downtown-bound F train, at Lexington and 63rd, down to 23rd street and then walk west, to Chelsea. There, on 23rd is a worrying example of politics intruding on the arts this weekend: Chamber NY is closed, with a printed letter hung on the front door explaining that the gallery’s director, Juan Garcia Mosqueda, who is a legal resident of the US with substantial investments in the arts and real estate, was detained, refused access to a lawyer and denied entry on his return to New York from Buenos Aires, seemingly under the auspices of the Trump administration’s chaotic and capricious immigration crackdown.
On 24th, go see Elliott Hundley’s Dust Over Everything at Andrea Rosen. The gallery will soon close, this show will be its last, and the iconic dealer will move on to new projects, TBA. Jerry Saltz’s gushy homage to Rosen explains in part how Rosen’s closing fits in with a number of other recent changes to New York’s gallery landscape. Hundley’s exotic, creepy and beautiful collages mark one kind of mash-up of all-over painting and the disembodying complications of late technological developments. Those advances include the fear of global mortality threatened by climate change, the flowing diffusion of images and information by cheap print and even cheaper digital reproduction, and the promise of immortality by cosmetics, body augmentation, or transhumanism.
Over on 25th street, Monica Bonvicini’s solo show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, RE pleasure RUN, conflates erections with erection—construction—of architectural elements, including walls, in an S&M-tinted play on gender roles, production and displays of power and gratification. Mitchell-Innes & Nash is also showing at the Independent Art Fair, with work by Pope.L.
From Chelsea, you can take the C or E train to West 4th Street, transfer to the B, D, or F, and continue to the Lower East Side. There you’ll find a number of galleries focused largely on emerging artists. A.K. Burns’s Fault Lines, a show of sculptural assemblages and collage at Callicoon Fine Arts on Delancey, and Baseera Khan’s iamuslima, at Participant Inc., which includes sculpture and installation, both explore how identity is constituted, represented and defended using cultural signifiers—Khan’s with the assertion of Muslim feminism and its resilience to trauma, and Burns with a kind of gritty environmentalism tempered by urban life and Greek mythology. Simone Subal has an excellent show of sculpture, including work by Virginia Lee Montgomery and Bill Jenkins. Jenkins’s work—large, site-specific sculptures intended to capture and move light like water through aqueducts—can also be found at NADA, on Manhattan’s West side, in a booth by CAPITAL, from San Francisco.
(As an aside, if you’re in the West Village for NADA, do check out Sarah Charlesworth’s exhibition of photographs at Maccarone, on Greenwich at Morton. Charlesworth’s work has been under-exhibited for a long time and the work here hasn’t been shown since 1993. Each image depicts some version of magic and illusionism, such as card tricks, levitation, séances, and genies. Her Red Veils makes an unsubtle allusion to René Magritte’s Lovers, 1928, and her sensuousness easily matches his.)
If you continue on the M train from Delancey-Essex, you can visit artist-run Brooklyn galleries on Saturday and Sunday: SOLOWAY, Black Ball Projects and Journal, all near the Marcy Ave. stop. Start at SOLOWAY, on S. 4th street, one of Williamsburg’s leading galleries set up in a former plumbing storefront. There, Terttu Uibopuu’s photographs draw parallels between the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the manmade disaster of post-Soviet Eastern Europe. If you walk west down S. 4th, at Bedford Ave. is Black Ball, within a building of artists’ studios. Their exhibition, Pre, shows the work of six artists, organized around the theme of depicting the effects of a large event, such as an election, as a catalyst for social or personal change. Alejandro Diaz and Shoshanna Weinberger make explicit reference to two issues that have driven recent US politics with great intensity: joblessness and race, respectively.
Walk up Bedford to N. 1st street and hang a left. A couple of blocks down, on the left, is Journal, one of the oldest and most established spaces in Williamsburg, and another exhibitor at Independent. Drawing Island, the current exhibition, is comprised of drawings by 60 artists, including both established and emerging artists, hung salon style. In a weekend with so much to see already, Journal packs in five-dozen more.
If you walk north one block and then east to Union and Metropolitan, you can catch the G train up to Long Island City in Queens, to 21st street. There, you can visit the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1, a museum that serves mostly to show contemporary art. Their permanent installations are excellent, and this is also the last weekend to see a retrospective of work by Mark Leckey, the British sound, video, sculpture, and performance artist. For those unfamiliar (or barely familiar, as I had previously been) with his work, Containers and Their Drivers is eye opening. Check out especially his Cinema in the Round, 2007, with a discourse on, among other things, our relationship to the uncanny valley and to Homer Simpson. And they’re perfectly suited to the former public school, re-imagined as a museum. Leckey’s command of visual language is powerful, from the Minotaur that fascinated Picasso to the cybernetic interfaces with which everyone in the developed world now engages.
The added bonus is that viewers are now near a great transit hub that can get you back to almost anywhere in the city you’re staying, to go recuperate and have dinner and drinks, and reflect on all that you’ve just seen.