"The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within that prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness." Andre Malraux

02 October, 2011

Ross Chisholm

A mostly dreary Saturday at the Chelsea galleries -- both on the ground & in the sky -- was temporarily brightened by the unique paintings of Ross Chisholm at Marc Jancou. His haunting images are like degraded old photos, or paintings that have been left in a corner of the attic for one too many generations, simultaneously providing a narrative & denying its satisfying conclusion. Somehow I wasn't at all surprised to learn he is English, though I'm hard pressed to describe why (maybe a bit of Bacon's influence on his style?).

Drastic Plan Plastic-Man

Seminal Lloyd (3)

Tonight Have Stopped


04 September, 2011

Kate Schutt

I saw Kate Schutt at Joe's Pub before they closed for renovations, & it's been a summer love affair ever since.

And here's the very performance I saw (recorded very well by someone with a slightly closer seat):

BTW, if you're in the NYC area, she's going to be at Birch Coffee every Monday in September. I'll definitely be catching one of those performances....

14 May, 2011

Colette Calascione

What do you get when you cross a 16th century Florentine portraitist, an early 20th century carnie, & Remedios Varo? Colette Calascione, apparently. I was actually a little surprised to learn she is an American artist; there's a slight whiff of the foreign in her work, & I mean that in a good way. I'm a sucker for realism & symbolism (& have perhaps been focusing on them too much recently, but hey, it's my blog), but even taking that prejudice into account, she clearly knows her way around an oil palette. Here a few of my favorite pieces:

Lorelei (2001)

Dream of the Hungry Ghost (2003)

Denial (2005)

UPDATE: Just found a great youtube video of some more of Calascione's work. (Full disclosure: I can't take any credit for it, since I ran across it on el fantastico blog Tocay@s....)

24 April, 2011

Tom Chambers

I found Tom Chambers' page through the links on Jessica Joslin's site & couldn't stop looking at his lush photo collages. People will say it's just my bird fetish, but I love his seamless blending of stunning images & perhaps the Pennsylvania aesthetic (surely there is such a thing...& stop badmouthing my bird fetish).

Saccharine Perch

Winged Migration

22 April, 2011


I've been listening to Rumer pretty constantly for the past month now. Probably should have blogged about her earlier, but hey, I'm lazy. She's got a lovely Dusty Springfield quality to her voice (or, as a friend put it, Dusty Springfield meets Karen Carpenter). She follows on the heels of this wonderful batch of English ladies now recording who sing as if the past few decades simply never happened (you know, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Adele). One thing I love about Rumer is how she's more than willing to invite us to consider her a creature from another era by covering such songs as Goodbye Girl, Come Saturday Morning, & this gem:

But of course most of her music is new songs. Her entire self-titled debut album is really strong across the board, but this one is my fave:

09 April, 2011


My search for the "perfect" art magazine (no, I can't define it, but I'm sure I'll know it when/if I see it) continues, but I was happy to stumble across v. 18 of the left coast-centric Hi-Fructose recently. Its concentration seems to be "lowbrow" artists (anybody else find that moniker patronizing?), which is an aesthetic I find myself responding to more & more. The articles are occasionally too cheerleading for my taste, more like an In Style profile of Julia Roberts than a serious discussion of an artist, but that's a minor gripe.

Be sure to check out their blog, which I really shouldn't link to since it makes mine feel completely irrelevant, but there you go. Already I learned from it that Mark Ryden & Marion Peck are a married couple, which makes so much sense yet also blows my mind a little bit.

Favorite artist I was introduced to in this issue...

Tim Biskup, who blurs the lines between fine art, design & cartoons in an absolutely delicious way. I guess that's the whole idea of lowbrow. Not surprisingly, he started his a career as an animator. Check out some more of his stuff:

06 March, 2011

Non-Armory Day 3

My 3rd (& final) day of visiting the satellite art fairs brought me to both Pulse & Scope. I've been anticipating Pulse the most; it's traditionally my favorite, & happily, it didn't disappoint, but Scope is giving it a run for its money. I'd never been to that one before, & color me impressed. Great stuff at both, so let's get to it.

In refreshing contrast to days 1 & 2, I'm finding myself needing to edit out many of artists I made note of at Pulse & Scope. In the interest of not driving away my busy readers, I'm limiting this list to the top 3 at each fair....


1) Megan Olson
I'm showing one of her drawings here, since that's what pulled me in, but click on her name to check out some of her paintings, too, which take this same idea to a much groovier level.

2) Gregory Euclide
His 3-D painting-to-sculpture pieces really jumped out at me, though I couldn't actually tell from them whether he knows how to paint. After checking out his website, though, color me satisfied. As usual with 3-D works, photos don't do them justice, but you get the idea.

3) Amy Casey
She has about a million of these, almost all on paper. J'adore.


1) Ziwon Wang
His hypnotic mechanical Buddhas could have kept me rooted in place the entire afternoon, if the overwhelming size of the fair hadn't kept me moving. Perhaps the most riveting stuff I saw anywhere this week (though I realize, as a Buddhist, my perspective is skewed). I was hoping to find an example of one of them in motion on youtube, but alas, just imagine almost every piece of this in constant, gentle motion, & you'll get the measure if it.

2) Hector de Gregorio
I wasn't able to find much about this artist online, which I find strangely admirable, but I really liked his portraits, some mix of photography & other printmaking techniques, with lush results.

3) Marion Peck
I thought her work looked familiar, not dissimilar from Mark Ryden, but when I investigated & realized she was a Seattle-based artist, I remembered having seen her work before. I enjoyed Sloan Fine Art's entire booth devoted to her.

There you have it, 5 art fairs in 3 days, & I'm able to fantasize that I've taken some measure of the international art world's temperature. Looking forward to doing it all again in 2012.

05 March, 2011

Non-Armory Day 2

Last night I hustled down to the Red Dot Art Fair & its companion, Korean Art Show, in Soho to take advantage of the free entry night (take a lesson, Armory). I'm happy to say they are both better shows than the Independent, my previous evening's destination, but also duller. I found myself having (not for the 1st time) an internal dialogue debating what's worse: actively bad art or competently dull art. Like a Zen riddle, I doubt I'll ever answer that one, but I'm absolutely certain I will be presented with myriad opportunities to consider it further.

These are the artists who stood out for me:

Tim Lovejoy
I loved his pastel drawings of Tibetan monks. I'm not sure if these were drawn from life or from photos, but his gestural work is amazing.

Tim Saternow (from George Billis Gallery)
Breathes new life into the gritty urban landscape painting, which ain't no easy feat. Part of his success, I think, lies in the use of watercolor, an unexpected & surprisingly effective medium.

Also worth checking out from this gallery: Stephen Magsig & Alex Roulette. Clearly, they specialize in realism.

Edward Walton Wilcox (from Lurie Gallery)
I'm not even sure how to categorize this guy, which I always like. Kind of pop, kind of goth, but not so easily dismissed as either. The 2 works on display were in bitumen, an almost unheard of medium. It's basically asphalt -- how this is used as paint, I couldn't begin to explain. Looking at his work at a book the gallery rep had on hand & now online, I'd say Wilcox was the strongest artist I saw yesterday.

Lastly, at the Korean Art Show to , I found myself completely charmed by the glass-&-moss sculptures of Jae Hi Ahn:

Next up, Pulse!

03 March, 2011

Non-Armory Day 1

One of my favorite New York weekends is here: The Armory Show. In keeping with tradition, I will not be visiting the actual event on the piers, but I do love checking out the more affordable satellite shows that pop up all over town at the same time. (By "affordable," btw, I'm referring not to the art, which is of course all unaffordable, but to the entrance fee: a hefty $30 for The Armory Show.)

Today, I went to the (free) Independent show in Chelsea. I suppose I could go on & on about the lowest-common-denominator aspect of art fairs & the way they cram unrelated pieces right on top of one another (I actually kind of like that latter part), but I'll settle for one word for this one: ugh. I optimistically pulled out my trusty pad right at the start to write down all the wonderful new artists I was about to be introduced to. With dozens of international vendors showing hundreds of artists, I felt compelled to write down exactly 2 names. The rest of it was like a visit to The New Museum: poorly conceived, lazily executed silliness. Not really worth the walk all the way out to West Side Highway.

Anyway, I try not to let this blog become about bad art (because there's sooo much of it), so on to the winners:

1) Ricci Albenda (from Andrew Kreps Gallery, just down the street):

Sculpture mounted seamlessly into the wall. More info about this piece here.

2) Alex Brown (also here):

"Hummingbird" 2010

Next I'll be visiting Red Dot. Wish me luck.

25 February, 2011

Under the Ivy

This was the "B" side of Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill, one of my all-time favorite songs. Amazing to stumble across an unheard song after a quarter century of fan-dom....

01 February, 2011

The Art of the Steal

I rented this documentary, The Art of the Steal, last week, & I highly, highly recommend it. It's a passionate, deeply one-sided account (just look at that title) of the collection of the late Albert Barnes & the successful campaign by Philadelphia's government officials & monied interests to get their paws on it. I won't delve into the whole matter here -- it could take volumes -- but in a nutshell, Albert Barnes made it 100% crystal clear in his will that he wanted limited access to his collection, primarily by students at The Barnes Foundation's educational facilities in Lower Merion Township; however, his collection became worth too much money for his wishes to be honored. Yes, the argument can be made that he couldn't have foreseen how priceless his collection would eventually become & that he left its stewardship in too loosely organized a set of hands, but the argument cannot be made that he left his wishes unclear or that they haven't been expressly ignored. If the collection had been allowed to simply exist on its intended scale & for its intended purpose, its care could have been funded indefinitely. (And is it the worst thing in the world if the occasional old painting passes on because it exists in the real world? There's way too much emphasis on archiving in the current system, if you ask me, but that's a separate issue entirely.)

The story brings up so many deeply troubling issues from our avaricious age. Those who love art for art's sake vs. those who appreciate it as a commodity, the individual vs. the state, democracy vs. corporatocracy, local interests vs. globalization, craftsmanship vs. commercialization...there's even a healthy dose of commentary on race relations, due to the fact that Barnes left his foundation in the long-term care of Lincoln University, a small & traditionally African-American college. I've seen a lot of online commentary on this movie that has been amazingly defensive, even from people with clearly no stake in the issue. The points of view of people like Barnes, who cantankerously wanted nothing to do with "the establishment," are being silenced everywhere you look these days. I think the filmmakers, by giving him a voice at all, have stirred up a hornet's nest. God bless them.

You can watch this on instant view via Netflix, I'll note, but here's the trailer in the meantime....

09 January, 2011

Jesse McCloskey

We are now one whole week into the year, & it's possible I have already seen the best gallery show of 2011. Jesse McCloskey's solo show at Claire Oliver is, in a word, stellar. One of the best I've seen in any medium in quite a while. What his medium is, though, is up for debate. He creates drawings, then builds up layers of painted paper on top of those...a couple dozen layers, maybe more, sometimes solid colors cut into shapes, sometimes drawn/painted images. He's definitely creating a drawing/painting of a sort, though it's collaged, & it's applied so deeply that it's quasi-sculptural. The technique alone is enough to hold some interest, though I realize he's not alone in using it (personal favorite Mark Bradford also uses collage sculpturally & on canvas, though his results are more definitively abstract). Happily, McCloskey doesn't rely on some trickery of technique; the imagery he constructs out of this process is truly fantastic.

The show is appropriately titled New World Nightmares, & it's easy to imagine these images as literally taken from the nightmares of a Puritan pilgrim to the untamed American wilderness in the 17th century. He's concocted a world of cartoonish witches & devils interacting with naively sexualized pilgrims & violent natives, all stylized into pseudo-woodcut likenesses that tug at the edges of your consciousness like -- well, like half-remembered dreams, which would seem to be point. Fantastical creatures are summoned out of fire, naked women are pestered by demons, shadows loom threateningly in the background, & space flows seamlessly between interior & exterior, sometimes not quite forming into either.

I didn't spot a weak piece anywhere in the show, though sizes & subjects varied quite a bit. This was my first stop on Saturday's tour of Chelsea, & I was seriously spoiled for the rest of the day. I'll write a separate post about some other work I encountered, but this one deserves its own dedicated space here on my huge, international hit of a blog. Some work from the exhibit....

The Magic Horse:

Girl with a Devil:

The Ghost:

Birch Skirmish: