LES Gallery Walk

Another installment from Armory Arts Week, which wrapped up yesterday. My biggest takeaway is that NYC art galleries—at least those on the lower East Side—do not value highly visible signage. This can be troublesome.

Second: I had no idea there was such a concentrated population of such galleries in this area of the city. Moreover, I felt pressed to take advantage of the publicized gallery walk—over 50 galleries open 12-6!—because I was under the impression that all of those in the city were open Tue-Sat 10-6. The point being that, since I also work in a gallery, I have very little opportunity to see the art on display elsewhere. Incorrect! The majority of the galleries I visited today are always open on Sundays! So I can see lots of art! And what's more, I now have handy maps for location referral, as well as a full listing of gallery names, and I can visit the LES all year long with little ado; no doubt such an outcome was the hope behind this whole arrangement.

On to the art! I stopped by twelve galleries in all—I'd hoped for more, but circumstances intervened (as they are wont to do). Those described here are listed in the table of contents below; click the links to jump to particular entries, or scroll to read through. Dates and addresses for each show mentioned are included at the bottom of the page.

Tomlinson Kong
Lauren DiCioccio: Still Life

First up: Tominson Kong Contemporary. On view is the first NYC solo exhibition of artist Lauren DiCioccio. The ephemera-strewn table (above) contains objects she reproduced entirely through sewing and embroidery, and are impressive for the work and care that went into their creation. On the walls nearby are a series of embroidered portraits that emerge from a newspaper story partially concealed behind each piece of backing fabric. I was most drawn to the works on another wall: several successive shadowboxes, each framing an opened book on which the artist cross-stitched through every letter such that all are rendered illegible. One must appreciate her precision and, again, the time devoted to the creation of the piece. If nothing else it is an interesting idea. But there is also something beautiful about these pieces, and the effective silencing of each text through craft. An adjacent gallery exhibits several other takes on text in WORD: A Group Text Show.

Sylvie Fleury: It Might As Well Rain Until September

Across the street I was invited to try on a pair of shoes (above) at Salon 94 Bowery (near the New Museum), and around the corner I passed by Lehmann Maupin twice before finding it and discovering it was unexpectedly closed. I then chanced on a lovely show at Mulherin + Pollard.

Mulherin + Pollard
Michelle Forsyth. Grey stripe 4, 2013. Gouache on grid paper, 10 x 10 inches. Image courtesy the artist's website.

So well did the pieces shown in Grid/Graph fit together conceptually that I considered this artist very admirable for his creative investigation of a broad range of disparate but closely related visual aims - only to find this was a group show consisting of works by five individuals. Well-chosen! I was particularly taken with the resplendent and surprisingly depthful works of Michelle Forsyth (above). They reminded me—and I mean this in no trivializing sense—of the potholder looming kit I played with as a child (below).


The works entrance as the viewer explores how Forsyth's chosen colors interweave (literally) to create varied senses of tone; the affect achieved sometimes differs greatly from the individual colors (in instances visible along the edges). As one peers closer it feels as though one could enter and get lost in this network of hues. Meanwhile, I felt validated to find that displayed works by Robert Otto Epstein are indeed based on designs for knitting and textiles (below).

Robert Otto Epstein. Enjoy! Place Mat, 2011, 17 x 24 in. Image courtesy the artist's website.

Charles Bank Gallery

Next stop: the Charles Bank Gallery, where I very much enjoyed Ryan Russo's collages of news and advertising items (below left). Fragmented but crafted with a refined aesthetic sensibility they "re-process the massive amounts of information disseminated and ingested within contemporary society," as the gallery's website describes it. Or, as I interpret them, they visually mirror the jagged disconnection such stimuli engender. Intriguing works downstairs include poetically rendered outlines of flowers by Mauro Bonacina (below right) and Garrett Pruter's digitally printed manipulations of found photographs.

Ryan Russo, Untitled 2, 2012. Collage and acrylic on paper, 10.25 x 20 in. Image courtesy Gallery website.
Mauro Bonacina. NEW YORK. USA. 10.21.2010. 12:53, 2010. Spray paint on canvas, 21 x 27 in. Image courtesy Gallery website.

Mark Miller Gallery

I next viewed a selection of photographs at Jen Beckman before heading down south of Delancey to visit the Mark Miller Gallery. Here was one of my favorite shows, as I anticipated it would be. Artist Davide Bramante draws a correlation between Rome and the Lower East Side as capitals of history and culture. Each of his photographs combines four to nine images in a visually rich composition melding ancient and contemporary Rome. The resultant works are utterly enchanting. The installation I found a little trite, with a too-conscious evocation of the working process on the lefthand wall, where seemingly hasty watercolor adorned reproductions are interspersed with torn bits of masking tape. Initially I disappointedly mistook these "sketchy" pieces for the final works. Fortunately the beautiful final pieces fully met my expectations, and the books on the table attest that they also reproduce well; I may consider adding one or more volumes to my growing library.

Davide Bramante. Roma Caput Mundi.

Denny Gallery

I dropped into Mayson and Munch galleries in the same area, then found an interesting selection of pieces in the group show at the Denny Gallery. My favorite work contained multilayered paint chips from every subway station in Manhattan, pinned like butterfly specimens within a shadowbox crafted from a found NYPD barricade. Conceptually I don't grasp a connection, but it's pretty darn cool. I would have loved to see the accompanying handmade book indicated in the wall label, and wonder what precisely it contained.

I have seen similar paint chips, I don't recall whether at the MTA Transit Museum or in the subway section of the City Reliquary museum which I visited (and wrote about) last June. The samples stand as a physical manifestation of literal layers of time, and moreover represent changes in aesthetics and design, and hence I find them most thought-provoking. The installation at Denny also contained photographs of books and other artifact-like pieces, as seen in the installation shot below, which evoked the feel of an old library.

Image courtesy Gallery website.

Anastasia Photo

I then headed back North, where I stopped by the the Y Gallery. Here was what seemed to be a potentially interesting project, but I lacked the patience to view/appreciate the video installation. I was, however, thoroughly engaged by the astounding photographs across the street at Anastasia Photo. I wanted to see this exhibition because the image on the gallery site reminded me of a series I'd seen in a semi-recent issue of National Geographic. As I entered I heard the attendant/owner/whoever commenting that this photographer contributed to that publication, and as I surveyed the room it quickly became apparent that I had in fact inadvertently identified the very artist. I recognized photographs related to several recent features I'd seen. The bound books of prints on the table made it seem as though the gallery had laid open George Steinmetz's archives for view, and I appreciated the intimacy (and trust) suggested by this gesture. I think not all contained Steinmetz's work—the maker's identity was not always readily apparent—but it was a rewarding culmination to a very enjoyable day.

George Steinmetz. Zebra and Fairy Circles in NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia.

It was great fun to take part in this semi-organized event, noting passersby on the street consulting similar maps and acknowledging them as fellow gallery patrons. And for those spaces I bypassed or didn't reach today, I now know I can return on an upcoming weekend!

Lauren DiCioccio: Still Life, and WORD: A Group Text Show, both through March 29, 2013 at Tomlinson Kong Contemporary (270 Bowery just south of E. Houston)

Sylvie Fleury: It Might As Well Rain Until September, through April 27 at Salon 94 Bowery (243 Bowery at Stanton)

Grid/Graph, through March 31, 2013 at Mulherin + Pollard (187 Chrystie Street b/t Stanton and Rivington)

Ryan Russo: Out of Context, through April 7th at Charles Banks Gallery (196 Bowery at Spring Street)

Davide Bramante: Roma Caput Mundi, through March 31, 2013 at Mark Miller Gallery (92 Orchard Street b/t Broome and Delancey)

Chronicle: Nadja Frank, Riitta Ikonen, Sarah Kabot, Jackie Mock, through March 30, 2013 at Denny Gallery (261 Broome Street b/t Orchard and Allen)

George Steinmetz: Desert Air, through March 12, 2013 at Anastasia Photo (166 Orchard Street at Stanton)

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Brooklyn Museum