Drawing Center

Edification value
Entertainment value
Should you go?
Time spent 46 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Gary Simmons’s “Ghost Reels,” an installation in the stairway featuring the names of black stars of the silent film era, written in the style of a typewriter typeface, and partially blurred or erased, evoking a part of film history that many have forgotten.

The Drawing Center occupies a beautifully designed SoHo space, cast iron Corinthian columns outside, several gallery spaces within.  It’s all very clean and spare and modern.  Imminently Instagrammable, as they say.

They generally have 2-3 shows going at a time, and at least currently each focused on the work of a particular artist.  The Drawing Center has a very loose definition of what constitutes “drawing,” at least based on “Undo List,” works by Mateo López, which took up most of the space when I visited.  López divided the gallery up with a bunch of low temporary walls with doors, creating spaces within the space for his works to play off one another.  His view is that images aren’t flat, but encompass atmosphere, time, and space.  Which seems to be another way of saying that he makes sculpture, as much as (or maybe more than) ink marks on paper.  That said, his work is very clever and funny and charming, so I’m willing to forgive the non-drawing-ness of it.

A dustpan full of words (a cut up transcript of a conversation between López and artist William Kentridge) is cool, and I’m always one for a carefully constructed papercraft vertebral column.

The second show on the main floor was much more “drawing” oriented, a retrospective of the work of Jackson Mac Low, who specialized in creating abstractions out of repeating writing words or letters in grids or on top of one another on a sheet of paper.  Some of his work worked better than others, in my eyes, but it was all very thoughtful.

Downstairs they screened an animation (a “moving drawing”?) of Ovid’s Metamorphoses compressed into a loop of transformations, and some wall drawings involving movie titles rendered in Morse code.

I’m pretty enthusiastic about the Drawing Center.  While it charges an admission fee, I liked the place and all the exhibits were interesting and fun.  As with many of these museum/gallery spaces, though, the experience (and whether you should go or not) will depend a lot on what’s on.

Visiting reminded me that I’ve long meant to take some sort of drawing class.  They do have some educational programs, but “drawing for the uncoordinated and easily frustrated” is really what I’m looking for. 

For Reference:

Address 35 Wooster Street, Manhattan
Website drawingcenter.org
Cost  General Admission:  $5, Free with ID-NYC

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