This year the Independent Art Fair showed a slew of conventionally good paintings, which is not necessarily de rigueur for the enterprise that prides itself on being the most “edgy” and “risk-taking” of the New York art fairs. On Spring Studios at 50 Varick Street, just below Canal, the space was full of natural light, and, as the afternoon wore on, visitors and photographers complained that the encroaching sunshine made it hard to see the work. But I thought the spacious venue, piercing light, and easy-to-navigate layout made the fair all the more pleasurable. There was also a noticeable lack of documentation for all the work, which is why details for some of the following images are minimal. Whether the galleries had simply run out of handouts (I stopped by in the late afternoon of the last day) or they had omitted written explanations intentionally so as to avoid didacticism and precipitate engagement was unclear. In any case, more conversations were underway than at the other fairs I visited. Mission accomplished, perhaps.
While we were students at MassArt in Boston, Kathleen White and I worked at the Institute of Contemporary Art on Saturdays. How moving and gratifying to see Martos Gallery’s mini-retrospective of her work, which was organized posthumously. Kathleen, who moved to NYC after she graduated, died of cancer in 2014.
Gary Indiana wrote in an ArtNews remembrance of Kathleen that it’s impossible to summarize an artist’s life and work in a few hundred words:
I can try to evoke a sense of Kathleen’s spirit, and hope that others—many others—will write more detailed, comprehensive articles about the art she produced over several decades: videos, paintings, sculptures, and sound works, remarkable for their emotional punch, aesthetic fastidiousness, wit, and concision. A great deal of her work sprang from loss and translates remembrance—of family members, of friends who died in the AIDS epidemic—into astute, depthful objects and manifestations of continuing resonance. Despite the anguished places she drew it from, her work is spiked with drollery and a sense of the absurd: I immediately think of The Spark Between L and D (1987), a performance in which the artist, dressed as a nurse, after socking herself repeatedly in the head, licking blood off her fingers, and wiping them off with paper towels from a medical bag, proceeds to mummify herself in surgical gauze and tape she extracts from the same bag while singing, in distracted fashion, ‘On Broadway.’ The song becomes muffled and incoherent after she gags herself with a bandage. Like Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days, she has a bag full of interesting, useless palliatives that ultimately reduce her to silence. It’s horrifying. And funny.