February 12, 2016

See my friends: Owen James Gallery

Editor's note. Our new column, “See My Friends," serves a dual purpose: to share information about young/small/hungry/idealistic galleries doing ambitious and interesting things in lesser known corners of New York and elsewhere with art aficionados and collectors; and to foster community among gallery owners and artists.

Guest Contributor Stephanie Theodore / I had heard of Owen James Gallery through a steady stream of positive press notices as well as regular kudos from a friend who worked with owner and director Owen Houhoulis for several years. By the time I met Owen in person, we'd heard so much about each other from mutual friends, it was as if we knew each other already.

[Image at top: Owen Houhoulis with a painting by Karen Marston.]

Art and Film: Thief’s incomparable visual grit

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Michael Mann’s brilliant 1981 neo-noir film Thief – showing in BAM’s February 5-16 Mann retrospective – is paradoxically celebrated for being under-appreciated. Substantively, he makes the one-last-score storyline as ugly-funny as good Tarantino and as tragic as good Polanski, brings out James Caan’s bestial, foulmouthed best, optimizes Tuesday Weld’s off-kilter winsomeness, and draws out career-best sidelong connivance from the fine character actor Robert Prosky. But what seems to have stuck with most critics and moviegoers is the film’s edgy style, from its elegant graininess to its deployment of the pioneering German prog-rock band Tangerine Dream – probably because it’s been style rather than substance that Mann himself subsequently focused on (in movies like Heat and Public Enemies and the TV series Miami Vice).

Yet in Thief style and substance come together synergistically as they never have in any of his other ten movies. The denouement is bracketed by images that Mann must have intended as the movie’s most indelible ones, like something akin to paintings. The first, a little more than halfway into the movie, involves Caan’s Frank’s methodically muscular cracking of a putatively impenetrable safe via a hi-tech blowtorch and a lance-like steel rod. At the end of the scene, Frank, having secured the diamonds, sweaty and grimy, takes off his protective hood, sits down on a chair, removes his gloves, lights a cigarette, and almost post-coitally exhales the smoke, gently nodding to himself. In terms of smoking cool, it’s up there with Bogart in Casablanca, Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita, and Belmondo in Breathless. More importantly, the framing signifies that those minutes following the successful completion of his last and greatest heist constitute Frank’s lone moment of contentment.

It’s all downhill from there. He has taken an angry yet affectingly futile stab at normal life above ground, hoping to settle down with Weld’s Jessie and adopt a child. The showstopper isn’t so much that he’s not cut out for it – though that’s certainly a major factor – as Prosky’s duplicitously avuncular Chicago gangster Leo’s effective confiscation of his money by tying it up “on the street” in order to keep Frank in his employ. Frank isn’t cut out for servitude, either. Resigned to his individualist compulsions, in the final scene he is left trudging bloodily from Leo’s silenced house, the last man barely standing – Frank’s visual epitaph.

Watch the entire film:

Related posts:
Art and Film: Women with dogs
ON FILM: Blonde on blondes
Art and Film: Jem Cohen’s faith in art


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February 10, 2016

Sweet direction for Carolanna Parlato

An exploration of color, light and gesture are the core of Carolanna Parlato's new paintings on view through Saturday at Elizabeth Harris. The dense geometric spaces, sloppy translucency, and highly saturated color of previous work have been gently nudged aside by opaque pastel color, the introduction of modeling paste for thickness, and the airy aesthetic of "incompleteness."

[Image at top: Carolanna Parlato, a delicate balance, 2015, acrylic and molding paste, on canvas, 64 x 84 inches.]

Carolanna Parlato, beckon, 2015, acrylic and molding paste on canvas, 66 x 72 inches.

One of the hardest things for a painter to do is to stop painting, and in this new series, Parlato manages to step away while the action is still fresh and before the canvas is fully covered with paint. Missteps are easily covered with a new layer of white paint. Agitation and anxiety seem to have disappeared. The new beginnings, both hopeful and sentimental, that these paintings suggest are a pleasure to contemplate. Spring is just around the corner, right?

Carolanna Parlato, moments like this, 2015, acrylic and molding paste on canvas, 54 x 44 inches.

"Carolanna Parlato: a delicate balance," Elizabeth Harris Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through February 13, 2016.

Related  posts:
Günther Förg's late work
Helen Frankenthaler: More profound than lyric

The beautiful and bizarre, organic and toxic at Elizabeth Harris (2010)
Parlato and Saccoccio: retooling gestural abstraction(2008)


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Peter Dudek on Presentational Sculpture*

Guest Contributor Peter Dudek / Lately a presentational mode of sculpture has been popping up all about. The hallmarks are a casual yet formal arrangement of sculptural elements. The constituent parts vary from the made-from-scratch, to the merely found, to the found but altered object. The presentations might include works by other artists, or seemingly broken bits or fragments of sculptures. But they all have in common a “laying out” in a fresh way that seems of the moment.

[Image at top: Tauba Auerbach]

February 8, 2016

Gyan Shrosbree: Open Studio at Two Coats of Paint

On Thursday, February 11, 5 pm - 9pm, I'm hosting an Open Studio for Two Coats artist-in-residence Gyan Shrosbree. A 2000 graduate of the MFA Program at Cranbrook, Gyan is an assistant professor of painting and drawing at Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa, and will be in town through Saturday, February 13. Please stop in and say hello.

 Images: Gyan Shrosbree, installations at Two Coats HQ.

Gyan Shrosbree, a few small pieces balanced on the window sill in front of the Manhattan Bridge.

Open Studio at Two Coats of Paint HQ, 55 Washington Street, #321, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY. Thursday, February 11, 5-9 pm.


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

February 7, 2016

Quick study

This edition of "Quick study" includes the inaugural show at the Met Breuer, Spring/Break's roster of curators, The Review Panel, New American Paintings Northeast selection, Amy Sillman, Martha Tuttle, Robert Straight, and Patrick Neal's thoughtful review of my show in Hyperallergic.

Looking forward: In March "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible," opens in the Whtney's old building. Organized by the Met, the show contemplates the unresolved and open-ended, a subject that I've been exploring for several years.

[Image above: Alice Neel, James Hunter Black Draftee, 1965, oil on canvas, 60 x 40 inches. COMMA Foundation, Belgium. © The Estate of Alice Neel]

February 4, 2016

Sculptural objects around town

The return of the sculptural object that was highlighted so beautifully in "Greater New York" at MoMA PS1 continues this month in many of the galleries. Some pieces are freestanding, others wall-mounted, and most refer to the sculptural tradition (rather than painting) for meaning. Even Frank Stella, whose tightly-hung solo is on view at the Whitney through Sunday, seems ultimately to have realized that he is more drawn to sculptural form than to painting. With his massive unpainted sculptures, what you see is really what you see.

[Image:  Hawkins Bolden, "Scarecrow" series. Through February 14 at Shrine (Lower East Side)]

February 2, 2016

Email: Meeting Alan Neider

Connecticut-based artist Alan Neider has been making art for over forty years, and for the past few we have been corresponding. Long before combining painting and sculpture became a popular strategy for painters, Neider was constructing three-dimensional objects – including lamps, chairs, curtains, and non-objective forms – to paint on.

[Image at top: Alan Neider in his Hamden, Connecticut, studio.]

Fred Valentine’s grunge sensibility

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Fred Valentine made his wryly haunting charcoal chiaroscuro drawings of real people “some sweet and tender others damaged and horrific” – on view in "The Pumpkin Festival and other portraits" at Schema Projects in Bushwick – in the early 1990s. That was when Kurt Cobain and kindred spirits’ croaking about happiness forsworn, and whatever twisted substitutes could be conjured, became part of the zeitgeist. Accidentally or intentionally, Valentine’s sad, elegant drawings of people in darkness struggling for light fit nicely into that cultural warp.

[Image at top: Fred Valentine, The Pumpkin Festival, charcoal on paper, large drawing.]

January 26, 2016

Recommended: "Introductions 2016" at Trestle

When viewing big group shows of unfamiliar artists, I always find something to like. But at “Introductions 2016,” an exhibition of fifty artists at Trestle Projects, I liked nearly everything. Apparently guest curator Jim Osman, a gifted artist a well as director of the Foundations Program at The New School, and I have a similar aesthetic. For both of us, materials carry meaning. In addition to appreciating their quirky uses, Osman likes a little humor, odd sculptural objects, and enigmatic, thoughtfully-crafted paintings and photographs.

[Image at top: Julia Staples, from the series You've Gotta Play It To Win, 2015, photograph.]

January 25, 2016

Raphael Rubinstein in conversation with Jonathan Lasker

When Raphael Rubinstein sat down with Jonathan Lasker at Cheim & Read, they discussed Lasker's process, imagery, and his relationship to Abstract Expressionism and Action Painting. "The execution seems very conscious and constructed, and yet the origination of the works is an imaginative process...Things lead into other things, sometimes along the way. In the middle of a painting something else can enter in, even though I'll often have a study...but nonetheless changes and alterations do happen..." Check out the full video below.

January 23, 2016

What's so strange at Fredericks & Freiser's "Strange Abstraction"?

At this stage, abstraction is no longer considered confusing or iconoclastic. So what kind of abstract work might earn the title "strange?" Fredericks & Freiser's buoyant group show "Strange Abstraction" provides a sharp answer. Each of the artists employs his or her materials in an uncompromisingly idiosyncratic way. Like many of the outsider artists whose work is on display at the Outsider Art Fair this weekend, those in this exhibition have developed vocabularies that, although rooted in Modernist abstraction, are deeply personal and visually unique.

[Image at top:  Joanne Greenbaum, Untitled, 2013, oil, acrylic, and ink on canvas, 90 x 70 inches.]

Tracking Loren MacIver

The snow on the fire escape this morning (courtesy of superstorm Jonas) reminded me of this 2008 piece about Loren MacIver that I originally published in The Brooklyn Rail:

In my first college painting course, which I took several years after completing an art history degree, my teacher Arnold Trachtman said that my painting of the bathroom sink reminded him of Loren MacIver’s work. I had no idea who she was, and without the convenience of the Internet, never looked her up. But 20 years later, when I saw that the Alexandre Gallery was presenting an exhibition of her paintings, I recalled Arnie’s offhand remark and made a pilgrimage of sorts up to 57th Street.

[Image at top: Loren MacIver, Spring Snow, 1958, oil on fiberboard, 45 3/4 x 27 1/8 inches. courtesy of Alexandre Gallery]

January 21, 2016

UES: Rudolf Stingel, Alex Katz, Jane Kent, David Storey, Richard Diebenkorn

Long, long ago, when paint-on-canvas art making was deemed irrelevant, painters began exploring experimental processes to make painting-like wall pieces that might wrest the conversation away from "new media" back toward object-making. One such artist is Rudolf Stingel. Nahmad Contemporary presents some of Stingel's 2001-03 Styrofoam and Celotex Tuff-R panels that were created during installations and performances at the François Pinault Foundation, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the 2003 Venice Biennale.

[Image at top: Rudolf Stingel, Celotex panel, detail.]

January 20, 2016

Starry night: Katherine Bradford at Canada

According to her son Arthur's poignant post on Facebook, Katherine Bradford moved to New York in the 1980s with two small children in tow. For ten years she slept on a pullout couch, sent them to school, and cooked on a hot plate. All the while she studied painting and dreamed of becoming a respected painter and making her mark on the world. The family struggled, but Bradford was able to get to the studio each day, working nights. Now, decades later, she is presenting her work at Canada, one of the Lower East Side’s most prominent galleries. The opening was such a mob scene we joked that had a fire broken out, much of New York’s painting community would have perished.

[Image at top: Katherine Bradford, Fathers, 2016, acrylic on drop cloth, 70 x 96 inches. All images courtesy Canada, New York.]

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