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A NYC Weekend, and More

After years as a working artist and gallery-goer, I’m still surprised by what I see promoted as good art. I understand that’s a loaded statement, we all have our own varied levels of tolerance, our visual pain threshold. With over 300 galleries and counting, a walk through Chelsea any given day will serve my point well. The majority of the work will be mediocre to horrid, the rest of some interest with a remaining percentage, if lucky, quite good. I walk several miles of streets and stairways and wait on too many slow elevators to find the gems.

One such gem, Zoe Strauss, had an opening this past Saturday night at the Silverstein Gallery. I got to meet Zoe at the 2006 Whitney Biennial. She had a small, dark, curtained room all to herself, where a slideshow of her photos was projected on the wall. It was very effective, and Strauss’s raw, distressing images of drug addicts, down and outs, street people, and those of her native Philadelphia most of us never see or never notice were projected right in your face. It was great. It’s also great that Zoe Strauss is a down-to-earth, incredibly nice lady, with very deep convictions about her art. Brent Burket had a sweet ode to Zoe in a post the other day: check it out.

Something that Strauss is adamant about is insuring that her work is reasonably priced: not so for Francesco Clemente at Mary Boone. He’s usually a very good painter, but it doesn't seem to matter when he doesn't hit his mark. This current series of paintings is silly, but all but one of them has sold for $225,000.

I liked Andy Yoder’s cast glass portraits of The Donald, The Martha, and Sam Walton at Winkleman Gallery. I wouldn’t want to have to move them. I think they weigh in at around 300 lbs. It’s a guy thing, to be an R. Crumb fan, I’m told. David Zwirner has a selection of his drawings up through June 16th. Jim Dine has his Pinocchio fetish going on at Pace Wildenstein. At Pace’s other location on 22nd Street, Tim Hawkinson’s wonderful creations are sometimes wacky, often beautiful, but always interesting (through June 9th).

A painter whom I really enjoy, Dana Schultz, was at Zach Feuer (the show closed on Saturday). Crazy, fun, inventive imagery and very good painting. Apparently the gallery has been packed all month and sales brisk. Go, Dana! Also can’t get enough of Alice Neel’s portraits, so thankfully Robert Miller has a show up to coincide with the new documentary, Alice Neel, by her grandson Andrew. Joan Mitchell’s paintings haven't always wowed me, but her drawings can be quite dynamic. Cheim and Read has a gallery full of pastels and charcoals, from 1956 to 1992, that made my day. It’s a challenge to follow her hand: where did she start? What was she thinking? Very powerful, thoughtful work.

I made it a point to visit some of the the galleries on the East Side and Soho. Of note is Amy Ross at Jen Bekman on Spring Street. I like that part of town, but take a map: there are lots of nooks and crannies.

Creativity comes in many forms, including some of the amazing things my yogi friends can do when they explore possibilities with their bodies, emotionally, physically, and with passion. Or observing my buddy Tom Hall, as he lassos the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, guest singers, dancers, and musicians, to mold an incredible performance. That also goes for a dear lady who died this past week at the amazing age of 100. Granny Fuld was a nonstop, no-nonsense, always talking, always knitting gal. She would never have thought of herself as a creative person. To her it was practical, just something she did. Granny communicated with knitting needles at lightning speed, knocking off 5 or 6 pairs of slippers, known as Granny slippers, before getting down to the real task of making sure everyone had an afghan or african as she would say, or mittens, scarfs, or fixing a hem or two. We would all do well if a little Granny ethic were to rub off on us and to remember, it's that creative yarn that holds us all together.

Visit my flickr site to see photos of the weekend, including a few images from an OK Frank Stella show at Paul Kasmin. Let's all send our prayers and positive energy to our blog pal Anna Conti. Her husband, Dave Sumner, is in a fight with leukemia. Get back to what you do best, Dave: taking photos. You can follow his progress at How's Dave Doing.


libby said...

I can name several women of a certain age who think R. Crumb outbakes Betty Crocker. We think he's Mr. Natural at cartooning--a genius even--and we hope he keeps on trucking into the alternative afterlife.

Mark Barry said...

But your a groovy babe, Libby, of course you feel that way.

ZS said...

I was just talking about Mr. Natural today because I'm shocked by how many people don't know him. What the hell is that about?

And thanks for coming up to the show!
Savannah sends her love as well

Mark Barry said...

It was a fest of love, Ms ZS. You've got a wonderful family. Your work looks great in the larger format We need a Crumb fest!