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New York
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Pulse New York
Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th St., New York, NY
March 4, 2010 - March 7, 2010


A Hummer Stage Coach, Chaotic Egg Pendulum, and Everything in Between
by Michelle Levy




One enters PULSE New York 2010 through Julian Lwin’s Stasis, a large ominous installation of analog television sets. This chorus of electronic visual static guards the passageway as a harbinger for dissonance. However, moving forward into the space, we are welcomed with a bright, well presented, relatively easy to navigate contemporary art fair. With a range of prominent galleries from cities across the US; a strong international presence; solo projects by emerging artists; and commissioned installations and programs; it would be hard to walk away without being impressed by at least a few things.

The main section of the fair is comprised of galleries that have exhibited in previous years. There is a healthy diversity both formally and conceptually in the featured works, too many to mention.  Here are some highlights:

At M + B (Los Angeles), the mesmerizing staged photographs by Alex Prager, cinematically depict female characters gazing off in a trance. Another approach to iconic depictions of women are Kerry James Marshall’s rich and sassy black-on-black pinup paintings at Koplin Del Rio gallery (Culver City) that simultaneously beckon and defy you. Also at Koplin Del Rio, Sandow Birk’s American Qur’an, from a series of illuminated chapters of the artist’s personal version of the Koran. This ambitious, inventive, and captivating project transcribes the English translated text juxtaposed with illustrations of American scenes.

Bill Smith presents a curious science experiment at PPOW (New York) titled magnetically stabilized, air driven, computer interfaced, chaotic emu egg pendulum, this kinetic egg pendulum incorporates sound and video in a mystifyingly interactive connection. Presenting the work alongside engrossing yet perplexing diagrams and text, Smith proclaims “The relevance of Contemporary art in the 21 century is dependent on Artists exploring the Intersections of Art, Science, Technology, and Culture.”

Devorah Sperber’s wall pieces on display both at Virgil de Voldere (New York) and Caren Golden (New York), definitely inspire oohs and ahs. On first glance they are hanging spools of thread arranged in abstract patterns, but perception shifts when viewed through an acrylic sphere, revealing an iconic work of art (i.e. the Mona Lisa).

Claudia Hart’s The Swing, a tableau vivant at BitForms (New York), is both charming and foreboding. Embedded in a painted frame, the animated video features a digitally created nude female avatar, based on Peter Paul Ruben’s fleshy depictions of his wife. She, an embodiment of Mother Nature, appears vacant and vulnerable as she swings back and forth suspended from the sky against a backdrop of trees that changes with time.

On display at Horrach Moya (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), are Cuban artist Jorge Mayet’s complex fabricated nature specimens. These miniaturized imaginary tree and root systems suspended in transparent boxes, as if preserved from a bizarre parallel dimension that is a fraction of our size. Also toying with scale is a lovable installation by Liliana Porter of a teeny tiny woman perched on a shelf, attached by barely visible knitting needles to a long thread of blue yarn that connects to an extremely giant knit pile of sweater at Carrie Secrest gallery.

Michael Scoggins playfully serves up comic relief at Diane Lowenstein Fine Art (Miami). His giant ruled paper crayon drawing, in the perfect imitation of a child’s hand, reflects a state of vampire saturation with a depiction of a Dracula figure saying “I vant to suck your blüd” while embracing a scantily clad, exposed, blond damsel in distress.

Combining equal parts humor and remarkable craft are Eric Beltz’s elaborate satirical graphite drawings that re-examine the American legacy, presented in a handsome installation at Morgan Lehman (New York). Down the way at Charlie James Gallery (Los Angeles) is a narrative tour-de-force by William Powhida & Jade Townsend. Titled ABMB Hooverville - this gigantic drawing details a shantytown that has been built outside of Art Basel Miami. A key at the top of the drawing numerates the dozens of known art figures depicted in this wild scene. Powhida is presented with Steve Lambert and Walter Robinson as part of a playfully facetious trio.  Lambert is featured by a selection of ironic brightly lit, flashing signs, including one that says “100 %” in lights, yet is missing a single bulb. Robinson also embraces ironic signage such as a blue, round plaque titled Worth, 2010, which reads “uncollectible, unmarketable, incorruptible.”

Plopped in a major intersection and impossible to miss is Jeremy Dean’s Back to the Futurama. Presented by Creative Thrift Shop, this interactive large-scale sculpture consists of a black Hummer that has been converted into a stage-coach.  It is displayed in the company of small models that illustrate the complete line of eight of these “hybrid” vehicles. This project references the Hoover Carts from the Great Depression, when people who could no longer afford gas removed the engines from their Model Ts and attached horses to them.

Moving on to the IMPULSE section of the fair, this portion is very effective in creating an intimate platform to engage with recent work by emerging artists. Each gallery here presents a solo exhibition of one artist. Megan Whitmarsh’s  whimsical Color Work Station at Michael Rosenthal (San Francisco) is a “meta studio”, an entire furnished room, almost completely re-created out of soft sculpture, containing everything from soft fabric paint tubes squeezing out fabric paint, to a fabric garbage containing a fabric banana peel. Masterfully navigating the flat plane are drawings and wall installations by Spanish artist Roberto Mollá featured at Christina Ray (formerly Glowlab). These elegant, graphic, surrealist pictorials combine narrative references with geometric abstraction. Antena Estudio (Mexico City) features a presentation by Mexican artist Gabriela Alva, of print, sculpture and installations, beautifully reinventing a platform and format for disposable materials. Hiroshige Fukuhara’s large, elaborate graphite drawings on black gesso panels, presented by Ai Kowada Gallery (Tokyo) are aesthetic masterpieces, depicting fantastical, decorative nighttime scenes of humans and beasts encompassed by flowers and foliage.

Although the fair does not deny its commercial purpose, an effort is made to add creative and enriching content that exists beyond the marketplace, providing a context for the other work. Not to be missed is this year’s Pulse Play, Ordinary Occurrences, a sensitively organized and compelling video series curated by Deborah Cullen, Director of Curatorial Programs at El Museo del Barrio. This selection highlights recent work by artists of Carribbean and Latin American descent, presenting “timely perspectives on the terror, sadness, power, beauty, and possibility at the conjunction of man and place.” Artists included are Eliz Alba, Monika Bravo, Michael Paul Britto, Nayda Collazo-Llorens, Zachary Fabri, Rob ter Haar, Claudi Joskowicz, Jorge Macchi, Liliana Porter and the Rickards Brothers.

Images: William Powhida & Jade Townsend, ABMB Hooverville (2010), Graphite on paper. Courtesy Charlie James Gallery; Jeremy Dean, Back to the Futurama (2010), {CTS} Creative Thrift Shop installation view; Bill Smith, detail of  magnetically stabilized, air driven, computer interfaced, chaotic emu egg  pendulum (2010), PPOW Gallery; Anthony Lister, Red Spots, 2010, Acrylic and mixed media mural. Courtesy of Lyons Wier Gallery; Megan Whitmarsh, detail of Color Work Station. Courtesy Michael Rosenthal Gallery; Claudia Hart, The Swing, Illuminated, (2006-2010), acrylic painting on formica, screen display embedded with video, maple/walnut wood case. Courtesy Bitforms Gallery.



Posted by Michelle Levy on 3/7/10 | tags: mixed-media

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