October 2012 Summary of Art Exhibits

There’s just too much art around if you’re a professional in the field; it’s hard on the eyes, feet, brain and calendar, leaving little time for anything other than visiting art exhibitions, attending art panels, going to galleries, attempting all those Art Nights on 57th, Chelsea, Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Lower Batavia, etc.

What’s hardest of all is trying to distinguish one artist from another, or which gallery showed which artist, or trying to remember what you actually thought of any of those artists whose work you can’t sort out anyway.

Clutching a sheaf of papers, invitations, announcement cards and print-outs as I hobbled into the office this morning, I’m trying to recap just a few, a very few, of the shows I attended over the weekend – this is not to include the two or three museum visits I made as I skittered around and through The Korean Day Parade, The Polish Day Parade and the Columbus Day Parade – the parade trifecta. Never let it be said again that New York is the easiest city in the world to get around in – no, no, no, not if there’s a parade going on.

Not in sequence of either time nor area:

Driscoll-Babcock Galleries is celebrating its 160th year in the business by moving to Chelsea and opening its initial exhibition with both 19th century and contemporary artists. There’s a 5.5 million dollar Hartley in one room and a Jeff Koons polka dot painting in the next. A John F. Kensett show is coming up next, but like so many other American Art galleries it is allowing space for what really brings collectors inside their doors – new art.

I’ve been following the work of Louise Fishman for many years and her new work at Cheim & Reid somewhat startled me this time. After 50 years of presenting a wide range of themes, the art has exploded into a blue thunderclap with red slashes. After five decades that’s quite an energetic viewpoiont.

Andrea Zittel at Andrea Rosen, continues to explore the relationship of art to consumable art objects, choosing in her own words to work at the intersection between textiles and painting, working with a group of weavers and artisans to create hanging textiles, some based on Navaho designs, and a giant rug, 144 x 192 inches. One of three, it is $85,000.

Robert Miller Gallery showed some marvelous vintage photos, primarily from the 1930s – Walker Evans, Dorothea Lang, and the usuaal suspects, but I made special note of the newer photos by Jorn Lehr. These offered a contrast to the otherwise very good photos I’d seen the night before at The Affordable Art Fair, held this year on 11th Avenue. Yes, it was affordable – in fact one of the best things I saw in the show was a $375 work by an artist in the Under $500 booth, but the difference between what is affordable and what is gallery worthy leaves some growth room in between.

At Pace the Richard Tuttle exhibition is of free-standing works that expands the space of his smaller creations. Couldn’t help but think of these when the next day I attended “Eyes Closes/Eyes Open,” the recent acquisition of drawings at MoMA. There was displayed the work of German artist Franz Erhard Walther from the decade of the 60s, a suite of interactive sculptural objects, shown for the first time since its original presentation in 1969.

There was tons more to speak of, but I’m not going to be the one to report it. I ended my afternoon in Chelsea on the highest of high notes, at Luhring Augustine where I sat through a performance in 12 parts by Guido Van Der Werve, an extraordinary visual video with a full orchestra that intertwined homage to Chopin with the history of Alexander the Great and the artist as guide, swimming, biking and running from Warsaw to Paris – 1,000 miles - dressed always in black. I lost count of the time for the music alone held me bound to the folding chair on which I sat, not knowing if I was comfortable or not and wishing it would go on for even a little while longer. I don’t usually react that way to art videos, but this time was different. When Chopin died in Paris, his sister promised to bring his heart back to Warsaw to be buried there, smuggling it out and having it was interred in the Church of the Holy Cross. The last scene showed the artist laying a gift at the foot of the artist’s monument in the Pierre Lachaise cemetery.