Taking in Chelsea

Dr. Elin Lake-Ewald


There is no down time for New York’s art scene. Even before the intense art season opens, meandering through Chelsea brought sightings of shows that make its inconvenient locale (west-siders might disagree) well worth the commute across town.

Last Saturday lots of galleries were in the process of setting up, except for Sikkema Jenkins where the Kara Walker exhibition was so crowded an alternate visit was necessary. It was still crowded when I returned on Tuesday, but there was better visibility with fewer art enthusiasts huddled around the work.

Louise Fishman at Cheim & Read drew fans for this veteran of the AbEx generation, as did her contemporary Yvonne Thomas at Berry Campbell. Peter Saul at Mary Boone didn’t even try to mask his emotions when it comes to President Trump. It was all out there in riotous paint, sort of like being smacked in the face by a dead duck.

I had never been to Production at Art & Commerce. On display was a huge two-floor exhibition of rather marvelous photographs, past and present. Another crowd pleaser was Maya Lin’s Ebb & Flow presentation with its crazy rows of glass beads all over the gallery. Lisson Gallery exhibited an important retrospective of Leon Polk Smith. The 1960’s Minimalist paintings/ sculptures shaped into vivid images appeared just as fresh as if they had come out of his studio today.

What I did observe of the Chelsea scene reminded me of the beginning of the end of days of SoHo. An influx of highly commercial galleries that one would not have associated with “Chelsea” prior to their arrival.

More to come later…