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New York
Group Exhibition
333 Broome St., New York, NY 10002
September 11, 2009 - October 11, 2009

Fitting Somewhere in Between
by Natalie Hegert






Just a few blocks away, check out this playful, exuberant group show on view at Canada gallery.  Entitled Spaced Out / On Time, the show's flyer is a Venn diagram (remember those?) where all the artists names fall in the space somewhere between "Spaced Out" and "On Time", somewhere between slapdash and punctilious, sloppy and precise.  Though quite a broad categorization curatorially speaking, it's an apt title for this intergenerational showcase.

Standouts of the show are Katherine Bernhardt's Swatch paintings with their totally 80's vibe and relaxed attitude--seemingly careless, or carefree drips coming off the hands of the watch, the face not perfectly round but rather slouched--these paintings ooze cool, in a laid-back, "didn't-know-you-cared" way.

Agathe Snow's Piece of my Heart, a gorgeous piece crafted from worn out pieces of acoustic ceiling tiles--you know the kind with the holes in them that you would stare at in the elementary school multi-purpose room instead of contemplating completing your Venn diagram...  Snow has shaped these tiles into designy flower shapes, overlaid and overlapped them--it's a highly sophisticated wall sculpture with fantastic textures, but looking closer there are small bits of grass caught on the rough edges, almost like the piece had been languishing in a backyard somewhere, exposed to the elements, or that the boards from which it was made were salvaged from a pile of discarded material outside of a renovation site.  It gives the piece a sort of effortless feel to it, combined with the sentimental title, is quite touching.

Speaking of salvaged materials, I was quite happy to be introduced to the work of Otis Houston, who has made his open-air studio on a corner of FDR drive for many years.  His enigmatic mixed-media sculptures use a language it seems only he is versed in; we understand the individual words, the items used to build the sculpture, but the final meaning is one that will escape us.  For instance in Obama Book. Obama Cat, a large stuffed Sylvester the Cat, propped onto an old metal cart, is wearing a hard hat, holding a red telephone with two old text books on either side of him--a rather perplexing yet charming assemblage, which feels instinctual and perhaps more simple than we believe it could be.

Another surprise is the inclusion of two pieces by Bay Area Figurative artist Joan Brown.  I'd only ever seen her work exhibited at SFMOMA, whose collection holds some of her large-scale works that feature her characteristic application of gobs and gobs of paint, thickly troweled over the canvas.  In Canada gallery we can see a couple of later paintings, the thick textural paint abandoned in favor of the extreme flatness of enamel, with an emphasis on pattern and color.

Set your Swatch and don't space out on this show--catch it on time until October 11th.

--Natalie Hegert

(*Images from top to bottom:  Spaced Out / On Time, September 11 - October 11, 2009; Canada, exhibition view: Katherine Bernhardt, Tintarella, 2009, acrylic, spray paint on canvas, 96 x 72"; Sadie Laska, Snake, 2009, acrylic, marker, glass beads, sand on canvas, 60 x 40".

Spaced Out / On Time, September 11 - October 11, 2009; Canada, exhibition view: Dona Nelson, Red Mist, 2004, acrylic on canvas, 69 x 80"; Katherine Bernhardt, Fall/Winter 1983, GB103, 2009, acrylic, spray paint on canvas, 96 x 72"; Chris Martin, Paintin with Four Colors and Three Holes, 2008-09, oil on canvas, 88 x 77".

Spaced Out / On Time, September 11 - October 11, 2009; Canada, exhibition view:  Dona Nelson, Strange Street, 1991, acrylic, muslin, string on canvas, 56 x 60"; Joan Brown, Woman Waiting in a Theatre Lobby, 1975, enamel on canvas, 70 x 90".

Spaced Out / On Time, September 11 - October 11, 2009; Canada, exhibition view: Otis Houston, I am Jobless, mixed media, 72 x 23 x 1"; Sadie Laska, Redhead, 2009, acrylic and glass beads on canvas, 40 x 30".  All images courtesy of Canada, New York.)

Posted by Natalie Hegert on 9/20/09 | tags: figurative abstract mixed-media sculpture

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