Concurrently, in our new space, around the corner at PROJECTOR, 237 Eldridge St, we present City Nights, an exhibition of paintings by Jane Dickson (b.1952) and Bill Rice (1931 – 2006). Contemporaries and friends, both artists are poetic observers of pre-gentrification New York, depicting the city’s nocturnal underbelly. Bill Rice was an actor who appeared in underground film and theater, an independent scholar and painter of atmospheric street scenes of the Lower East Side. Holland Cotter in The New York Times wrote, “the pictures with their thin washes of oil paint, are at once rigorously geometric in structure and smokily gestural as abstract Phillip Guston’s.” Rice wrote of his paintings, “Ideally I would like to invest the rectangle – the basic unit in any city scape – with the sensuality, color, texture, I find in the streets. I like to record the young, elegant, Black, Asian and Hispanic men who know how to move and glow in what would otherwise be a dreary landscape.” Rice’s work came to wider attention in 1985 when the poet Rene Ricard, penned a long paean to Rice in Artforum. Ricard stated that Rice was the “greatest living painter of the city, and in his painting there is no other city than New York, black New York.”
Bill Rice had shows at Patrick Fox Gallery, at 56 Bleecker St Gallery, at Janis Gallery in an exhibition organized by Richard Milazzo, and at Mitchell Algus. His most recent exhibition was at SHFAP’s 73rd Street space in June of 2011.
Jane Dickson, is known for her paintings of Times Square in the eighties, where she lived with her husband, the filmmaker, Charlie Ahearn, painting the neon light of bars and strip clubs. Glenn O’Brien wrote “Dickson’s transcendental reportage updates realism with the full blown post-modern spectrum of artificial light. The sun never intrudes on Dickson’s pictures. This is a world of endless night, where black light is the beacon of the black hole of desire.”
Using unorthodox supports such as black vinyl, astroturf, sandpaper and carpet, Dickson subsequently developed a broader view of American reality encompassing the suburbs, highways, casinos, amusement parks and demolition derbies.
Dickson’s vision (and Rice’s) might, in a different period, be termed “social realism.” Critic Peter Schjeldahl refutes this stating “Dickson is nothing if not a messenger bearing the news that those concepts, among others with which we presume to subdue the unruly, have imploded.”
Dickson has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, at Phillip Morris and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art among others. She was 2014 recipient of a Painters and Sculptors Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.
The show includes a handful of important paintings by both artists including loans from private collections.