Samantha Holmes’s piece for Starlight Park, made of carousel horses rising out of the earth, like a zombie amusement ride or the merry-go-round of the apocalypse.
The model is sort of slapdash charming, I trust the real one will be more impressive.
Founded in 1987, the Bronx River Art Center (BRAC for short) occupies a building indeed located right next to the Bronx River. It just reopened after a thorough renovation, with a distinctive paint job that features terrific branding and makes it very easy to spot from the West Farms Square elevated station.
BRAC serves its community as a performance, exhibition, and studio space, and includes a small art gallery in its lobby.
The gallery at the Bronx River Art Center is fairly plain. I have no idea what it looked like pre-renovation, but post-renovation it’s a neutral, nondescript space. Big windows look out onto busy East Tremont Street. Continue reading “Bronx River Art Center”
Matthew Cusik creates images that initially look drawn or painted, but close up reveal that they’re collaged from meticulously cut up pictures, in the case of “Three Horses,” atlases. It was like seeing all the oceans of the world in a single wave.
Just a couple of blocks beyond the Museum of Modern Art’s Queens outpost of PS1 lies Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs, another entrant in Long Island City’s burgeoning contemporary arts scene.
Despite the “gallery” in its name, Dorsky doesn’t sell art. Rather it is “dedicated to promoting contemporary visual arts to a broad public audience.” It holds three to four thematic exhibitions a year, for edification not commerce. The gallery doesn’t have a permanent curator; rather it invites “curators, writers, and art historians” to submit proposals for shows to fill the gallery. It also serves as an art exhibition space for several local colleges not blessed with their own on-campus art museums.
Dorsky’s building is modern, nondescript, and nearly windowless. It could house a small self-storage space, techie startup coworking space, or a secret government lab as easily as it could a setting for art. The interior is sleek and contemporary, which in New York gallery terms means high ceilings, column-less interiors, and concrete rather than wood floors. Actually, there are 2 art spaces at Dorsky and they split the difference, floor-wise.
The show I saw at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs has one of the cleverest, simplest titles of all the art installations I’ve seen for this project. “Wake” is about water. Paraphrasing the guy minding the gallery when I visited, it’s about where water used to be and is no longer, and where it wasn’t before but increasingly is now, and will be into the future.
And yet it wasn’t all a climate change doom-and-gloom-fest. Though there was quite a bit of that. A fair amount of the exhibit just celebrated water and the life it contains, with a combination of abstract and representational work, and paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, and even some art books.
Naoe Suzuki, for example, examines inland waterways, depicting just the water, no labels, no forests, no towns or roads, in large format with blue watercolor on tea-stained paper. They could be abstractions, pictures of anything, but at the same time, they couldn’t be pictures of anything else. I liked them, along with most of the rest of the work on display.
Should You Visit Dorsky Gallery?
Dorsky is pretty small, and may not always justify even the quick-and-easy trip from Manhattan to Long Island City. I was the only visitor when I went on on a dreary weekend day; the guy minding the place cheerfully turned on the lights for me. He seemed happy to have a visitor, and to discuss the art and artists, and the place with me.
Dorsky’s curatorial approach is really interesting, and if “Wake” typifies what it puts on, I’m glad that it’s now on my cultural radar. If you’re at all interested in contemporary art, I recommend a visit. And if you’re going to PS1 anyway, it’s a simple matter to add a half hour before or after to check out this small, interesting venue.
A set of prints by Julie Mehretu and Jessica Rankin titled “Struggling With Words That Count, 2014-2016.” Less abstract than I’m used to from Mehretu, they combined mostly serene and spacey images with obscure texts in a way I really liked.
I started this project a bit over a year ago fully aware that things would change — I’d discover new museums to add to my list, and remove ones that didn’t fit my evolving definition of “museum.” Sure enough, one museum I’ve reviewed, the terrific Fisher-Landau Center in Queens, has shut down.
And another museum, Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, has moved to spiffy new digs. I recently edited my review of the Jewish Museum, based on the terrific reinstallation of its permanent collection. That makes this my second re-review of an institution. (Check out my review of Wallach 1.0 here.)
Note: Columbia’s Wallach Art Gallery was the second place I reviewed on this epic quest. I published the review below on March 5, 2017. The Wallach Gallery subsequently moved to spiffy new space in Columbia’s new arts center, and I’ve created a re-review of it. Read that here.
Should you go?
Best thing I saw or learned
A postcard rack with postcards based on a large-scale photograph Carissa Rodriguez took of a photograph by Trevor Paglen (of a secret military base), hanging in the home of Bay Area art collectors Mike and Kaitlyn Krieger. I am a sucker for meta.
My second entry and already I’m in trouble. Am I reviewing spaces, or exhibits? The Wallach Gallery, on the 8th floor of Schermerhorn Hall at Columbia, has no permanent collection. It is just a space for temporary shows. I started writing this about “Finesse,” the current show there, and realized that’s not quite right. Continue reading “Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University”
Joseph S. Bell-Bey’s abstract acrylics were pretty cool. I particularly liked his deep blue one.
In the late 1960s a group of business and community leaders in Jamaica, Queens decided to do something to try to arrest the decline of the Jamaica Avenue shopping district. Among other strategies, they decided their neighborhood needed a new arts institution.
The City abandoning its beautiful, Italian Renaissance-style Queens Register of Titles & Deeds building around the same time created an opportunity for some adaptive reuse, and the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning was born in 1972.
Programming at JCAL heavily emphasizes the performing arts, film screenings and lectures. JCAL’s main building has a theater, and it manages a nearby church building as a converted performing arts space. Classes are also a big part of the mission, including workshops and after-school programs for kids.
At 205 Hudson, Dario Robelto’s “I Miss Everyone Who Has Ever Gone Away,” 1997 recreated 2007.
Little airplanes folded from the wrappers of candies from Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s famous candy-pile artworks memorializing AIDS victims. It’s artistic appropriation in the most unexpected and literal way.
Hunter College boasts not one but four art venues, collectively the “Hunter College Art Galleries.” If this were earlier in my museum expedition, I probably would write about each of them separately. At this stage, though, I crave variety in my write-ups, to say nothing of efficiency. And Hunter itself thinks of them in the collective. So my review covers all four spaces in one. It gets four dots on the map, though. Continue reading “Hunter College Art Galleries”
I had completely forgotten about New York’s state fossil, until the Staten Island Museum reminded me. It’s a sea scorpion or eurypterid, which I would absolutely not want to meet on a Jurassic beach.
The Staten Island Museum started as a private pooling of personal natural history collections in 1881, opening to the public in 1908. Currently it claims to be New York’s only truly encyclopedic museum, embracing science, history, and art. And so it does, albeit in small doses of each.
The museum formerly resided in a classical building in St. George, near the Staten Island Ferry, until last year, when it moved to Snug Harbor. It’s a bus or car ride from the ferry terminal, but at least the architecture is still appropriately museum-y.
Pat Lay’s cheery-creepy cyborg sculptures, particularly the punk-borg “Transhuman Personae #12”
I’ve never been to an art gallery in 19th century school building that also housed an Escape the Room game before. But there is a first time for everything, particularly when you’re determined to go to every museum in New York City.
The Clemente Center occupies P.S. 160, a public school building dating to 1897, built in the grand institutional gothic style, all pointed arches and stone- and iron-work. Abandoned as a school due to a fire in the pyromaniacal 1970s, the Clemente Soto Vélez Center was founded in 1993. It operates a number of endeavors in the building, including four theaters, artist studios, rehearsal spaces, two art galleries, and the aforementioned Escape the Room game.
The vestibule features a plaque from its founding as P.S. 160, with the names of a slew of great and good late 19th C. Dead White Males who contributed. Times have changed. Continue reading “Clemente Center”
A set of four large, multipanel works by Karina Cavat, who curated the show, and who resides in a Westbeth apartment. And with whom I had a really interesting conversation.
They’re all dense views of burgeoning nature gone haywire. If I had to choose one, I’d pick “Cook,” an homage to a Weber grill.
On the far, far, western borders of the West Village a huge building complex occupies the entire block from Bank to Bethune and Washington to West Streets. Today this is Westbeth Artists’ Housing, founded in 1970 as a place for working artists to find affordable housing and studio space. To this day, artists live and work, show and teach there. Westbeth also provides a home base to the New School’s drama department and the Martha Graham Dance Studio, among other cultural institutions.
The complex also houses a gallery space, showing work from resident and nonresident artists alike. However, Westbeth’s arts incarnation belies an older and even more intriguing history. Continue reading “Westbeth Gallery”
A book turned into a fantastically eroded landscape by Guy Laramée. Google that dude, his work is amazing.
The Center for Book Arts is one of those quixotic organizations whose unlikely existence helps make life in New York worthwhile. In this digital age, the idea that an organization will teach you how to letterpress print, how to bind a book, how to marbleize paper, seems hopelessly, charmingly, vitally anachronistic. In addition to classes, the Center for Book Arts also offers memberships; join and you can go and hand-set lead type to your heart’s content. Just don’t lick your fingers while you do it.