December 31, 2012

"Sharon Butler: Precisionist Casual" at Pocket Utopia

Happy New Year! See you at Pocket Utopia on Sunday.

From the press release:

Pocket Utopia is pleased to present “Precisionist Casual,” a solo exhibition of new paintings by Sharon Butler. The exhibition will feature Butler’s stapled, washed canvases, unstretched yet arranged on stretchers.

Butler finds herself pulled between the worldly confines of the Precisionists of the early twentieth century and the fey liberation of today’s Casualist abstraction. Like the Precisionists, Butler is drawn to urban settings, structures, and HVAC architecture – all in evidence from the windows of her Bushwick studio. Yet, like the Casualists, she seeks a mode of presentation that evokes more than the triumphs and laments of industrialization that earlier artists have already plumbed so well, embracing those inconsistent realities and searching for new ones.

In Butler’s new work, stretchers are no longer hidden, voiceless platforms for paintings but rather partially revealed elements of the work, haphazardly wrapped with wrinkled tarps. The resulting Rauschenbergian sense of earthy imperfection and chaos, though, is balanced by well-anchored painting distinguished by skewed perspective, geometric structure, sensitivity to form, minimalist economy of detail, and worn-out pastels.

With a sensibility that resists serial rigor and jettisons the notion that you can get everything right, Butler fully realizes her belief that the most interesting and enduring stories are imperfect and incomplete, showcasing an appealingly unresolved tension between restless impetuosity and grounded rigor. Her new paintings seamlessly combine the irresoluteness of contemporary abstraction with the confidence of the Modern.

"Precisionist Casual" is Butler's first solo show at Pocket Utopia.

Special Program Dates:
Sat., Jan. 19, 4pm - 6pm, Gorky’s Granddaughter
Mon., Jan., 28, 6pm - 8pm, Raphael Rubinstein
Sun., Feb., 17, 4pm - 6pm, Kate Wadkins

"Sharon Butler: Precisionist Casual, New Paintings," Pocket Utopia, 191 Henry Street
New York, NY.
January 8-February 17, 2013. Opening reception Sunday, January 6, 6-8 pm.

Gallery Hours: Wed. - Sun. 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Directions: Pocket Utopia is located between Clinton and Jefferson on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. By subway, the F train to East Broadway is 2 blocks away. Map


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Quick study: Last chance, stories from a grad student, best film of 2012, College Art Association Conference

Last chance to see "Impressionism," Matt Connors's show at MoMA PS1. His paintings embrace and rethink all the physical tropes of abstraction, including oily pigment halos, AbEx scale, hard edge geometry, and Twombly-esque calligraphy, reformulating each in the artist's own idiosyncratic, endearingly low-skilled way. The show closes today. Image at top: Matt Connors, Black/Blue, 2012, acrylic and colored pencil on canvas with artist's frame, 48 x 40 inches. Image above: Installation view.

Keith Mayerson, Andrew and the Pups at the Pool, 2011, oil on linen, 30 x 22 inches.

Over the holidays, painter and Columbia University MFA student Tatiana Berg has been entertaining questions on her Tumblr, so I asked what was the best advice she has received at grad school so far. "The best advice I’ve gotten probably came from either Dana Schutz, who I was assigned as a mentor and who I AM IN LOVE WITH, or Keith Mayerson who is an amazing, kindhearted person and incredibly dedicated teacher. I’m trying to think of what his best advice is; in my case he plays the important role of cheerleader who keeps me from being cynical or overly miserable about my own work. 'Don’t swallow the bitter pill,' 'Don’t fall into the trap of production,' 'If someone rolls you a ball, pick it up and roll it back...'" Read More.


Two Coats of Paint's choice for Best Film of 2012 is "Amour," a French film about two retired music teachers who live in a shabby, well-loved apartment full of intimate french landscape paintings, books, CDs, and prints. In the NY Times critic Manohla Dargis called the film "a masterpiece about life, death and everything in between." Carefully observed, insightful and moving, "Amour" is one of those rare films that will make you look at life (and love) differently. Life is indeed beautiful. At the Film Forum and Lincoln Plaza.


Save the Date: The College Art Association's Annual Conference takes place at the New York Hilton, Wednesday, February 13, through Saturday, February 16, and artists should be aware that ArtSpace, a mini conference within the conference, is free and open to the public. Organized by CAA's Services to Artists Committee, ArtSpace is tailored to the interests and needs of artists (as opposed to art historians). Check out the schedule of panels and discussions here. More details to come.


Raymond Pettibon's advice to artists this week, via Twitter: "Spend the next 40 yrs wrkng 20 hrs a day on yr art like I have--and then ask me 4 advice on 'how to make it.' " Image above courtesy of Pettibon's website.


Related posts:
Two Coats of Paint @ The College Art Association Annual Conference (2012)
 Matt Connors knows

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December 26, 2012

Best of: Seasons Greetings

Every year we get a slew of Seasons Greetings emails, and this year, we actually started reading them. These are our favorites, sort of a top ten list of holiday greetings, although we find the use of well loved paintings as greeting card images a little disturbing. We wish Two Coats readers all the best for an exciting and productive 2013. See you out and about...

From Mitchell-Innes and Nash: Chris Martin, Hemlock, 2010

From Lyons Wier: Melodie Provenzano, Bow of Bethlehem, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 24 inches.

 From SEASON: Peter Scherrer, Cabin Window, 2010, oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches.

Carter and Citizen: April Street, For Harking (Nets), 2012, acrylic, hosiery, gold leaf, cast bronze nail, 58 x 26 inches.

From Bomb: Tony Feher, Mediodia, 2012, photograph. Courtesy of the artist, Artspace and Lucien Terras, Inc., NY.

From Jason McCoy: Glenn Goldberg, Love Letter (1), mixed media on canvas, 18 x 30 inches.

From ppow: Portia Munson, Goblet, 2008 , 22 x 17 inches. 

From Bushwick Daily: featuring Bushwick Daily Holiday Party editors Katarina, Sean and Maria.

From DC Moore: Charles Burchfield, Winter Sunburst, 1960, watercolor, charcoal, and white chalk on joined paper mounted on board, 33 x 39 3/4 inches.

And, last but not least, Pocket Utopia  included a snapshot of Two Coats editor (that's me) Sharon Butler's new paintings, and an invitation to "Precisionist Casual," her (my!)  first NYC solo show in several years. It opens January 6, 2013--we hope to see you there.


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December 23, 2012

Brian Dupont's square texts


Working on hollow, square, aluminum beams, Brian Dupont paints snippets of found text such as passages from Beckett, Richard Serra's verb list drawing, and narratives written by friends. Dupont's small-scale wall objects, reminiscent of the controversial rusted steel facade of the nearby Barclays Center, have a worn, weathered look that speaks of struggle and process, but ultimately arrives at a beautiful, warm patina. Here are some snaps from a recent studio visit.

Dupont and I discussed the nature of text, and the difference between writing something by hand and using a typeface. Typeset text provides distance, while handwritten text has more overt emotional content. Using stencils allows Dupont to break the phrases into individual painted letterforms that have both the distance of typesetting and the warmth of handwriting. But ultimately Dupont is interested in how we apprehend information. "I want to force the viewer to reassess their relation to both the text and object," he says. "Because all sides can't be viewed simultaneously, the complete text is only comprehended as an abstract construction."

Work in progress.

A view in the other direction. 

After my visit, I hoped on the G train and headed to Lauren Luloff's studio sale, where I picked up a lively painting called The House Outside. Stay tuned for more details.


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December 21, 2012

Quick study: Abstraction is Queen

Picasso Black and White at the Guggenheim includes loads of paintings I've never seen before--even in reproduction. Featuring large, unpainted swaths and urgent brushwork, the paintings look so fresh--as if they might have been made in a Bushwick studio yesterday. Some of the reclining figures from the 1960s reminded me of Philip Guston. Did they know each other? The show is up through January 23, 2013.

Pictured above:  Pablo Picasso, Seated Woman in an Armchair (Dora) (Femme assise dans un fauteuil [Dora]), Grands-Augustins, Paris, May 31, 1938.


At the NYTimes, Roberta Smith raves about "Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925," opening at MoMA on Sunday:
...“Inventing Abstraction” is itself a marvel of a diagram, a creative circuitry variously visual, aural and kinetic, whose radiating lines yield new sights and insights at every juncture. Bravi!

At Hyperallergic, Thomas Micchelli reports that
An intriguing aspect of the show is how fluidly the multiple strains of Modernism run together — Cubism, Vorticism, Futurism, Suprematism, Dada and the rest. What they shared seems to matter much more than how they differed, a point underscored by the sublime exhibition design. Simultaneously open and intimate, the layout allows you to see a panorama of works installed in different rooms, giving the impression that the artworks are characters appearing in one grand opera rather than on discrete stages, following their own narrative.
I can't wait to see the show this week.

“Endless Column,” by Constantin Brancusi, and a wall of Kazimir Malevich paintings. Credit: Philip Greenberg for the NYTimes.


After I had a somewhat lengthy discussion on Twitter this morning with one of the guys from Abstract Critical in which I defended "unresolved" abstraction,  The Painted Wrd uploaded a post comparing Provisional Painting and New Casualism to pop music's Kei$ha:
In thinking about the relationship between pop music’s fascination with end times and life in post-crash America, I couldn’t help thinking about the a similar rise in visibility of abstract work concurrent with pop music’s “apocalyptic abandon.” In the past two years, several critics attempted to theorize practices in this very broad vein, most prominently Raphael Rubinstein and Sharon Butler, whose respective terms of “Provisional Painting” and “The New Casualists” focus on the unfinished appearance of such work. Butler describes this tendency as “calculated tentativeness,” but I would like to propose the opposite: what if we think of such work not as trying to look incomplete, but as rejecting completion as a contemporarily relevant state in a late capitalist society where instability and precariousness reign? Here, even perfection won’t help you get a job, and it certainly won’t save you from getting laid off. In this view, we might think of contemporary abstract painting more like music, and particularly dance music: remixed and faded into the tracks before and after it such that it never ends and becomes instead a perpetual experience of the present.... Read more.
Buy this book for your kids from MOMA's online gift shop:
With eye-catching graphics and playful activities, this creative sketchbook encourages would-be artists of all ages to look at the world around them and express what they see. Inspiring and colorful, Make Art Mistakes creativity sketchbook will bring out the artist in anyone.
My rule of thumb is that we shouldn't spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for holidays. My limit is three times the length of the event :)

And: Stay tuned for the 2012 Best-of post. 

Year-end roundup: The IMAGES column, 2011
Out with the old, or, Hello 2011 (a few upcoming exhibitions)
2009 Top Ten list for painters


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Past, present, future: Q&A with Miguel Carter-Fisher

JOE BUN KEO: Your work ties the past to the present. You’re dealing what is in front of you now, but you always find a way to link to what has happened before. How does the future fit into your approach to your painting? What about tomorrow?

MIGUEL CARTER-FISHER: By blending the past and the present I feel I am carrying those experiences forward into my future. I guess it is an act of re-creation, or reflection. Immediate perception floods your imagination with light, sound, smells, and textures while memory provides connections and meanings to those sensations. The intense meditation that painting provides brings me to myself, and teaches me my own personal history. I recall things to go back to, or maybe things which demand further exploration. I can look back and say yes! that was it!. It was that moment. It was that feeling, From there I shape my future accordingly.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Kate at Coney Island, 2012, oil on panel, 60 x 36 inches.
JBK: The light in your work is cold, but not in a negative way--like a cold breath that could be haunting and yet relieving at the same time. Is this the past/present dichotomy that you’re trying to capture in your work?

MCF: You hit the nail on the head. I believe that when composing a work of art, formal qualities take on metaphorical importance. You are not truly using the visual language until those forms transcend description and take on content. A classical guitarist I know named Jonathan Rodriguez once said to me, "Miguel it is not what the notes are but what the notes do that gives them meaning." I feel the same about light in my work. It is the means through which concept and narrative enter. When I paint light is never just a way of illuminating form, but how I attempt to encompass aspects of the human condition.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Prague Sunrise, 2009, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches. 
JBK: You’ve just recently graduated from the New York Academy of Art. Explain the difference between your undergraduate studies at the Hartford ArtSchool and graduate studies in New York in regards to the curriculum; what are the similarities and differences?

MCF: The New York Academy of Art is far more specialized than Hartford Art School. The study of the human figure is the foundation of the curriculum at NYAA which allowed for me to deeply explore subjects that interested me as a figurative painter. By the time I got to NYAA I was starving for courses on traditional painting techniques, anatomical drawing, ecorche, and composition. Hartford Art School is broader, more of a survey, which is I think the healthiest thing an undergraduate program could be. I look back on the broad range of courses I took and am grateful that I got a more rounded education. Being a part of a University also allowed for me to study at other colleges, and while I was there Philosophy was as important to me as Painting. If there is one thing I can't complain about it is the quality of my education. I am very fortunate and lucky that both institutions were so different from one another.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, The Next Morning, 2012, oil on panel, 56 x 44 inches.
JBK: What’s the biggest difference from your undergraduate work to your most recent body of work? Progression or digression?

MCF: For starters the quality. I am still not thrilled with my own work but have come a long way. As for content I think it has been a long slow bloom. Despite the differences between the institutions I described earlier the work itself carries on in a consistent way. Referring back to your first question this is again that past carrying forward into the present. I think there has always been something inside me trying to get out, and as I grow and learn that voice has gone from an almost inaudible whisper, to a few soft statements. I aim to make it sing, and as of lately am increasingly excited about the next body of work I will take on.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Zoe Reclining, 2012, charcoal on paper, 40 x 26 inches.

JBK: Tell us about what’s next for Miguel Carter Fisher? Are there any upcoming exhibitions or other creative opportunities?

MCF: Well as for exhibitions, I was in a Halloween themed show at Kraine Gallery on E. 4th St., and I am in a charcoal drawing show at Main Art Gallery in Richmond, my home town, early next year. I want to show wherever and whenever I can but the main objective now is to keep building up a body of work. I have been obsessively thinking about a few series of paintings, sometimes waking up at 4 in the morning, daydreaming about them like one might an infatuation. I just can't wait to get to the studio.

Thanks Joe, this has been a lot of fun!

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Dad, 2012, oil on panel, 24 x 18 inches.

Miguel Carter-Fisher, Megan, 2011, charcoal on paper, 60 x 96 inches
Image at top:  Miguel Carter-Fisher, Grandpa, 2012, oil on panel, 24 x 18 inches. Images courtesy of the artist. A video of Carter-Fisher's final critique at NYAA is posted on Vimeo.

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December 16, 2012

Juliette Losq's creature features

Stephanie Theodore wraps up her first year in Bushwick with Juliette Losq's  big, obsessive, post-industrial landscape paintings. In the weedy underbrush Losq toys with duality, inserting images within images that turn the isolated landscapes into both protective hollows and menacing dark domains. In Idiom, the online arts and culture magazine published by Barry Hoggard and James Wagner, Brian Dupont talks with Losq, whose images tease meaning from the abandoned industrial sites found around London. Here is an excerpt from their conversation.

Juliette Losq, Crepuscule, 2012;  ink on paper, 11 x 14 inches.

JL: I was thinking about the sense that these images of marginal areas in the small works could almost be from any era. They are only discernible from their original industrial functions as being of the present, perhaps, because they have become so overgrown and, to an extent, peaceful. But I also find that tranquility eerie: they could just as easily be from some dystopian future, where everything looks largely the same but with minor disruptions or differences. The unknown figures are deliberately nonspecific, definitely organic. They could be living organisms or the pupae or entrails left behind by something now departed.

BD: The sense of narrative can seems to come from an underlying source in genre fiction, rather than documentation. What appeals to you about the creepiness or unreality found in science fiction or horror? What do you like about superimposing this anxiety on an otherwise pastoral setting?

Juliette Losq, Bloom, 2012;  ink on paper, 11 x 14 inches.

JL: Maybe it’s having grown up in the suburbs where everything is dull and there are no extremes of nature, but I always project creatures onto a given landscape. If you show me a still pond I will imagine something rearing up out of it. I also grew up on a diet of horror films, as my father was a fan of the Universal films, and any kind of schlock horror really.

BD: Your technique of layering and masking can be stunningly complex for the simplicity that is often ascribed to drawing or watercolor. How has your engagement with the materials grown and evolved? What do you find in “drawing” that you don’t in “painting” or “photography?”

JL: People are often confused as to whether they are looking at drawings, prints or paintings when they see my work in the flesh. I’ve borrowed parts from both watercolor painting and the process of etching. I build up the work like you would an etching plate, masking off areas then inking over them until the final image is ‘developed’ and revealed. I then add further detail and watercolor washes over this. I enjoy hovering between the different disciplines. Watercolor historically has connotations of feminine domesticity, or as being a sketching medium that is used in small scale preparatory works. I like the idea of turning these presumptions on their head in terms of the scale of the work and, to an extent, the disruptions to the landscape that I introduce....Read more

NOTE: Big apology to Theodore:Art for not posting this excerpt before the show closed. And: congratulations on completing your first year of programming at the Bushwick location! We're looking forward to 2013.


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Kevin Zucker: Fiction painter

At 11 Rivington and 195 Chrystie, Keven Zucker (American, b. 1976) presents views from hotel balconies. Reducing his photographic source material to diagonal lines of pastel-colored pixels that mimic driving rainstorms, Zucker makes inkjet prints and transfers them onto large-scale canvases. Defying their analytic origin, the images are surprisingly poignant.

Keven Zucker. All images courtesy of 11 Rivington.

 Kevin Zucker, installation view, 195 Chrystie. 

 Installation view.

Also included in this quietly engaging exhibition is a case of text drawings made with a ballpoint-pen plotter. Formatted like personal correspondence, the plotted text describes images that Zucker found online. Printed on images of blank stationery from Martin Kippenberger's posthumously published book No Drawing No Cry,  Zucker's letters are pure fiction, conjuring places and experiences that Zucker has never known. Holed-up in the studio, Zucker, like so many artists and writers, trawls the Internet for material, constructing fantasies from other people's snapshots and memories.

"Kevin Zucker: No Hotel," 11 Rivington Street and 195 Chrystie Street (2 locations), Lower East Side, New York, NY. Through December 22, 2012.


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December 14, 2012

Thoroughly observed: Q&A with J.D. Richey

JOE BUN KEO: Your work is fractured and fragmented, made of many smaller pieces. It's like a puzzle. Do you paint in sections and then assemble the piece at the end? Or does the image grow organically as you work?

J.D. RICHEY: I do not work on many pieces separately; rather, they grow and diminish until something is satisfied. These works are in constant flux, I never begin with a conscience plan or certain intention regarding the size a piece may grow to. I discover the idea and size simultaneously. The only hard truth I bring into a painting is faith in perception. Any visual perception is worth painting, some are more difficult to perceive and realize. Often the most challenging aspect of making these paintings is dealing in the large scale outside.
JD Richey, Boston Ave., 2010, oil on paper, 6 x15 inches.

JBK: Google Earth and Google Maps enable the use of satellite images in navigation. You can zoom in from different angles at each location. Do these recent technological advances affect your personal perspective?

JDR: No, there is a convenience driving in unknown areas. I have always been interested in maps and a perception outside space and time, though I'm not sure how that directly relates to my paintings. Mostly I don't marry technology and art, perhaps the opposite. I like the idea of really old and established materials relating to a modern world, competing with and balancing modern technology. The humanity of painting is essential to image making, a camera could record any street corner I paint, however, lacking the same kind of humanity, the personal experience, the passing of time. Looking back into art history, the demarcation of historical time periods are defined by artists' ability to re-define existing materials in way that blew the minds of the established ideologies.  I also love the idea of new materials employing principles of art-making that apply to any medium, new old and yet unknown, the cleverness of man is unstoppable.

JD Richey, 91 Shelton, 2011, oil on paper, 91 x 98 inches. Images courtesy of the artist.

JBK: You talk about being true to your perception--that it's your point-of-view, your first person experience. The images of street corners and highway intersections seem almost mundane and banal, and I'm wondering if you have a personal connection to these sites.

JDR: That relationship is developed throughout the making of the painting.  Recently I've depicted places conveniently around my home, it is most likely I picked my home knowing such potential... however; I believe that any place is available to paint if it is thoroughly observed.
JD Richey, Day Drawing, 2012, charcoal on paper, 80 x 81 inches.

JBK: The majority of the work is on paper, which can tear, wrinkle and get wet. Paper is a very delicate, hard-to-manage surface, especially when using paints that absorb. Why do you work on  paper instead of sturdier surfaces like canvas or panel?

JDR: I love paper, for many reasons.  Paper is malleable flexible and very diverse in its applications. It is financially viable.  A stretched and meticulously prepared canvas or linen is such a rigid and defined dimension, also implying a planned and calculated image. All surfaces require preparation before oil paint application; paper can be smoother and less absorbing than canvas with less effort and materials.  Paper allows me to add and remove at will, with little effort, its non-committal and immediate. The prospect of sewing 40 pieces of canvas or cutting and somehow attaching pieces of panel, would stifle my creative process. Truly paper allows me the most freedom in manipulating the picture plane and composition.
JD Richey, Night Drawing, 2012, charcoal on paper, 52 x 84 inches.

JBK:  Tell us what's next for JD Richey? Any shows, curating gigs, or other projects going on?

JDR:  Finding a window to look out of over the winter months. I am in a two man show with Perry Obee at Gallery 195 opening January 15 and a solo show next June in Hartford in the Theater Works Gallery.
JD Richey, Williams St., 2012, oil on paper, 57 x 66 inches. 
Image at top: JD Richey, Olive St. Bridge, 2012, oil on paper, 43 x47 inches 


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December 12, 2012

The Hirst reward: 420

The 128 participants who completed the Damien Hirst Spot Challenge earlier this year have finally received their reward. Arrested Motion reports that Hypothalamus Acetone Powder,  a 59 x 53 inch silkscreen print comprising 420 one-inch spots, each in a unique color, has arrived at their office. Hirst cynically titled the print after a discontinued chemical used in the cattle industry (moooo) and references the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that regulates body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and circadian cycles. Clearly including 420, a popular euphemism for getting high, wasn't an accident.

Images courtesy Arrested Motion. Story via


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Quote of the Day: Walter Robinson

"I just can't get into the radical masquerade that the art world is. That's why I paint like I do. I'm not pretending to be some kind of avant-garde. I'm not trying to be inventive. I'm just making images. Like a sign painter. Anyway that's the idea."
--Walter Robinson
/ excerpt from a 2012 interview with Robinson on the occasion of the Times Square Show at Hunter College. 

Contributing Editor at Art in America from 1978-1997, Art Editor of the  East Village Eye, Editor-in-Chief of Artnet Magazine, Robinson must know a boatload about the art world's radical masquerade. In the 1980s, he showed his paintings at Brooke Alexander, Metro Pictures, the New Museum and Semaphore Gallery, but eventually became consumed by writing and editing. His new paintings, many of which look like catalog images and self-portraits of young women in their undies culled from the Internet, are on view at Firecat Projects in Chicago through December 22. Naturally, there's no press release--just pictures.

 Walter Robinson, no information available.

Walter Robinson, Backpage Chicago, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 14 inches

Walter Robinson, no information available.

Walter Robinson, Beck's Nonalcoholic Six-Pack, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 30 inches.

Walter Robinson, Impression: Cheeseburger, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 19 x 22 inches

Walter Robinson, Dresses & Wedge Sandals, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 28 x 22 inches.

Walter Robinson, no information available.

Walter Robinson, Slim Fit & Ready-to-Wear, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 inches.

Walter Robinson, The Three Muses, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 28 x 22 inches.

"Walter Robinson: Hello from New York!" Firecat Projects, Chicago, IL. Through December 22, 2012.

Related: Andrew Russeth's The Life and Times of Walter Robinson at GalleristNY


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