art review

Food for Thought (and Humor) in The Bushwick Starr’s “[porto]”

“[porto]” at The Bushwick Starr. Photo by Marina McClure.

It serves pickled pomegranate, fried chickpea, and grilled sage.

No, it’s not the organic/gluten-free/farm-to-table market down the street; it’s the rustic gastropub in The Bushwick Starr’s (207 Starr St.) new play [porto] though based on Brooklyn’s artisanal food scene trends, these bites might soon appear on your go-to bar’s menu. And like those snacks, the play is a concoction of the satirical, savory, and flat-out strange.

[porto] is part of this year’s (and the second annual) Exponential Festival, a theatrical series promoting works created in New York and performed in Brooklyn. Kate Benson’s funny, meandering, and world-premiere play centers on Porto, a young woman for whom the hipness of Brooklyn’s cultural and foodie offerings has perhaps grown dull.

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Happening Now: MAD MEDS at Microscope Gallery

Marni Kotak, “Surviving 6 Karpas (Beth Israel Psych Ward)”, 2014, photographic plaque, 40 x 24 inches (detail) © courtesy of the artist and Microscope Gallery

In 2011, Brooklyn-based artist Marni Kotak shocked art critics and mommy bloggers alike by giving birth to her son Ajax in Bushwick’s Microscope Gallery. Continue reading

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Happening Now: “Automonuments” at Simon/Neuman² Gallery

Untitled (close up), 2010, Digital C print, 30 x 45 © Niv Rozenberg

Writing of Manhattan at the end of the 20th century, the architect Rem Koolhaas described a new kind of monument, one “available for meaning as a billboard is for advertisement:” Continue reading

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Check Out My Body Of Work – “Throwback Thursday” at Calico

Artwork by Thomas Buildmore

Written by Martin Esteves

What pictures would you pick of yourself for a “now and then” slideshow? Would the choices accurately depict progression or would they represent a cultivated presentation of how you’d like to be thought of?

Calico Brooklyn’s “Throwback Thursday” is an art show that compares old and new works from a kind of high school yearbook haircut stance (the title comes from the urban dictionary definition to this effect). Pairings by ten artists are hung with a newer piece on the right and an older piece to the left. Continue reading

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The Most Exciting Part About an Old Brick – Art Opening Tonight!

Heading over the Williamsburg Bridge, have you noticed the colorful oval tiles, an art installation that covers the rafters on your way down towards Manhattan? It is one of my favorite pieces of public art, not only because of how happy it makes me as I whiz down, but because of the intrigue the work inspires and how bold the artist is, not only in his color choice, but it makes you wonder, “how the hell did he do that?”

When I walked by Black and White Gallery on Driggs this past week, I spotted those eye catching ovals. Was he so audacious as to tape them to the outside of a gallery?

Of course I barged in and met Peter Brock, who was installing his first solo exhibition in the space.


The Most Exciting Part About An Old Brick opens tonight, Friday April 20th from 6-9pm, and he is giving out presents!

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Pierogi: Unreliable Narrator

As a recovering art student I am reticent to even begin this review. My few brief and mostly booze muddled years at the museum school taught me a few things. First, that I am incapable of retaining any information about art history or theory, and second that the combination of vodka and mountain dew does wonderful and terrible things to the body.

This is the review of a layperson, or maybe just a drunk.

There’s my caveat.

Ward Shelley’s Unreliable Narrator exhibit at Pierogi consisted of maybe a dozen paintings; all could be described as text based system diagrams. Each piece teased out minute and often-obscure details of systems from pop cultural groups to North American history to the knock on effects of the industrial revolution.

Example: the interrelated web that ties nerds to geeks to greasers to hipsters to metal-heads all leading back to some pre-human ancestor like Karl Marx.

Or Jung.
Or something.

It was mostly over my head.

That said it was beautiful and informative and I could have easily consumed an infinite supply of their free beer trying to dredge up those neural pathways I carved all those years ago in high school history, civics, or art history class.

Ward Shelley at Pierogi - fucking awesome!From a purely aesthetic standpoint the pieces were exquisite. It was apparent that many hours of thought and planning had gone into the execution, the text being connected by colored pathways that interlaced and crossed and re-crossed tracing ancestry and dependency to create genetic river systems complete with oxbow lakes and dead ends.

The works were simultaneously gorgeous, entertaining, and informative.

Ward Shelley @ Pierogi
Unreliable Narrator
17 February – 18 March, 2012
177 North 9th St

Pierogi is a participating gallery in the Greenpointers Gallery Tour, 3/10/12 – 6-9pm.
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Art Review: Yes! & Greenpoint Gallery

Currently showing at Yes! Gallery, a beautiful basement space curated by Lesley Doukhowetzky on India Street, is a collection of drawings and watercolors by artist Lorene Taurerewa called Watercolors and Other Things....  My impressions of this show can be neatly separated between her technique and her subjects.  I immediately found a deep respect for her mastery of the human figure and of the subtle variations within a set of colors that watercolor paints allow.   On the other hand, I felt alternately disengaged and deeply troubled by her choices of subject matter.  Her techniques elegantly evoke the human form while simultaneously imbuing it with an ethereal quality that lends her subjects license to appear in dreamlike (perhaps nightmarish) positions, and her ability to subtly use color transitions only available to the watercolor medium to set mood is evident throughout the exhibition.  It may only be my own personal biases against monkeys and clowns – especially in combination – that lead me to find many of her paintings deeply unsettling.  The juxtaposition of a practiced technique against an overtly childish motif – Batman appears in several of her works, for example – may work for some but may disengage others.

Further north at 390 McGuinness Boulevard lies The Greenpoint Gallery.  Residing in a multi-level space shared with a mixed showing of sculpture and painting, Friday’s opening was of paintings by artist Walker Fee.  Mr. Fee’s work included large-scale paintings that span multiple wooden panels with various scenes covering both idyllic cityscapes and emotionally-charged excerpts from the religious mind.  Judgement, a painting on six thin wooden panels and pictured at right, brought illustrations of Dante’s Inferno by Gustave Doré and William Blake to mind.  Outlines of sinners, all the more powerful by their being more suggested in the imagination rather than painted in whole, are driven before a livid golden backdrop.  While the effect was powerful, I believe that the work presented suffered from being poorly hung and presented – it appeared to have been painted on plywood and mounted so as to not support the middle of each panel, which therefore slouched against the wall.

Yes! Gallery – 147 India Street
The Greenpoint Gallery – 390 McGuinness Boulevard, 3rd floor.

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Michael Schall at Pierogi

© Michael Schall

Art Review written by Martin Esteves

The fall season in the front room of Pierogi’s main space opens with flashes of light and smoke – or at least drawings of them. With the gallery’s boiler room annex usually reserved for installation and spectacle, the ninth street location seldom strays from the flat files of the entrance. This is rarely a bad thing and with his solo show, Cloud Wall, Michael Schall needs only illustrate the autumnal burst from drawer to wall.

The series of graphite on paper can be divided into two groups – mysterious and unmanned light sources, and caged cloudbursts. The theme of the Light series seems to be that of luminosity unbound from source, be it artificial or supernatural. The supernatural radiance rises from a Pool of Light (2009) at the foot of a mountain face. With no human presence in the drawing, the glow can rise (unnaturally?) from the pond without witness. Lava Tube, likewise, might just depict a reasonably explained source of glare – in this case, the entrance of a cave seen from within – but with the gallery viewer as the lone attestant, the effect becomes ominous.

© Michael Schall

Hoover Dam and Eidophusikan both reveal their light source to be synthetic, but again, with no drawn inhabitants, the light can shoot artificially downward or light an empty stage without the need or want of an audience.

It’s important now to remember that these are drawings (don’t forget to save the actual pyrotechnics for the Boiler Room) and that drawing gradations of light across form is fun – and Schall exploits this fun masterfully – but by depicting the illuminated scenarios (how else to show light?) Schall reveals not just loss of control of nature, but a kind of jealousy of nature’s freedom, even when it is manmade.

Michael Schall at Pierogi (191 N. 9th) thru October 9th, 2011

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Stay Close To Me, It Will Be Dark Soon

Stay Close To Me, It Will Be Dark Soon
John Stoney
The Boiler, Pierogi (191 N. 14th St)

Art Review by Martin Esteves

2011 © John Stoney

Closed for most of the summer, Pierogi Gallery’s Boiler Space reopened with a show that has the space reflecting outward to space as if in anticipation of the longer, contemplative nights ahead.

For his second solo show there John Stoney has grouped video, sculpture, and pyrographs (burnt wood drawings) for a kind of curio box housing mementos and evidence of our solar system and how earthly materials echo these larger passing orbits.

Videos depicting the “Speed of the Earth” localize views of the moon and night sky from varying northern American vantage points. The gaze skyward here is made specific because the moon passes at different speeds depending on where the viewer is. The biggest screen shows the moon rolling by from the 41st Parallel. In sort of a pre-Galilean standpoint, Stoney has the moon, Jupiter, and Saturn, only in existence from and for the view of the observer.

The three sculptures in the show then become even more subjective and ‘grounding’. Placed at two corners and the center of the large dark room, they make personal objects of even the sky. Corner Piece #2 is a pile of stones collected from upstate New York but here becomes souvenir moonrock.

My Father’s Sky is a wonderfully made diorama of the night sky over water made with fiber optic tubing as a stand in for the stars. The scene is said to be the view from Galveston Texas on October 16, 1965. Is the time and place important for us to know? Not so much as the need to depict and build something for one’s own personal affirmation.

2011 © John Stoney

The centerpiece of the show, and perhaps the oddest addition, is Nocturne. A Corinthian column stands twelve feet tall in the center of the room with a woodpecker holding on just below the top uneven portion of the pillar. Made of polymerized gypsum and covered in silver leaf, Nocturne takes the show into surreal narrative. The one “invented” image in the show reinforces the need for tangible and landed reference while going in a different direction. When looking inward and not upward, the artist still has to unify subject with scenario. Could an extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker claw on to a marble column (never mind peck it’s top part loose)? It could if they were both made from the same stuff.

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