Archives for category: events

“Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” ~ Albert Einstein

I’ve been known to have my gripes about the institutional machinery churning out MFAs, and the economic chicanery of the commercial art world that promotes the idea that this degree denotes superior artistic talent, intellect or dedication.  As Jerry Saltz writes in NY Magazine, “These days, if a young artist starts out showing at Larry Gagosian it feels silly, misguided, out of scale, and odd — like the artist is in it for the wrong reasons.”

Yes, an MFA does denote a bigger debt load (or bigger trust fund), but we all know there are plenty of artists out there who have and continue to produce incredible work by following less traditional paths.  Let us not forget that the supposed indispensability of having an MFA is a fairly recent development for visual artists.  But that aside, while I may have reservations about certain institutions, my point here, and I promise to get to it, is to speak out loudly in favor of teachers, and the importance of all of us being very vocal and visible in supporting the role of arts in the public education programs for the nation’s youth.  (If you’re in NY, here’s a good place to start advocating for the arts.)

“A teacher’s purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image. “~ Unknown

Don’t you fondly think of those who have formally and/or informally offered insights, guidance, opinions and encouragement along the way?  I speak from experience to say that you might be surprised at how much showing your appreciation might mean to them.

Here are a few of the people I have to thank:

Incredibly perceptive, sharp and frank Regina Granne, who taught me that looking hard and drawing well are indispensable abilities, but aren’t enough if one isn’t honing one’s thinking skills all the while.

Knox Martin, at 87 and still painting away, eternally mischievous, irrepressibly lustful, playful, and passionate – an unaffected cad of sorts.  [His current solo show at Woodward Gallery runs through November 13, 2010.]

The late Richard Pousette-Dart, irascible by association, though not in manner, whom I have to thank for encouraging me to look deep within and pursue my creative vision, for caring not a whit when it diverged from his own, and for telling me to use a bigger sketchbook.

The late Robert Beauchamp, an uncompromising painter’s painter, who made it undeniably obvious how sexy paint can be.

Bruce Dorfman, who taught me the difficult lesson of mining successes from self-proclaimed so-called failures.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” (Albert Einstein, again.)

And I’ll leave you with some views from teachers’ perspectives:

A post by Julia Hensley on teaching and making art and a typographic video version of Taylor Mali‘s spoken poem “What Teachers Make.”

And if you want to be impressed more, check out Taylor Mali’s mission to inspire 1000 people to become teachers.  So far, he’s convinced 580, and counting!


Sky Pape - Cocktail

Well, tonight you will find me blinking in the light like a bear newly emerged from a season of hibernation.  I’ve been hunkered down preparing for my solo show, “Water Works: Surface Tension,” which opens at 6pm tonight (until 8pm), February 5th, a few short hours from now.  If you are awaiting a personal, virtually-engraved invitation to the show, this is it! Please stop by and see it if you can, between now and March 5th, at June Kelly Gallery, 166 Mercer Street, Floor 3, New York, NY.  As far as experiencing art, you know there ain’t nothing like the real thing!

The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11-6pm.  In addition to the opening, I’ll be stopping by the gallery now and again during the run of the exhibition.  I don’t know my precise schedule yet, but I will post times on the home page of my website, so please check there if you’d like to connect in person, or you can email your plans and I’ll see whether we can coordinate.

Thank you for looking and reading and cheering me up and onward with your comments, messages, kindness, humor, intelligence, and generosity of spirit. It’s with the utmost gratitude and appreciation that I find myself surrounded by such talented and wonderful people.  And you’re all really good looking and sexy too.

And now to go get gussied up myself.  It’s showtime!

[above image: Sky Pape, Cocktail, 2009, ink on paper, 37″h x 25-1/4″w, courtesy June Kelly Gallery, photo: Jean Vong, copyright Sky Pape, all rights reserved.]

P.S.  I am no fan of the persistent idea of the “starving artist” and think art is better viewed with a satisfied stomach! No sooner did I post this than I learned that the masterful gourmet chef Viviane Bauquet Farre of Food and Style has invented a special recipe and wine pairing in honor of this show (and my love of mushrooms).  I couldn’t be more flattered!

To tell you the truth, I thought it was supposed to be an interview with one guy bearing notepad and pencil.  Then they showed up with cameras!  Good thing I had my Minnie Mouse gloves at the ready.

For those of you who know me, you know I adore my neighborhood, Inwood, here at the far northern reaches of the island of Manhattan. does a wonderful job chronicling the people, events, and rich history of this area.  I’m flattered that they came to visit my studio, and went to such an effort to feature it on their site.

As part of the Uptown Arts Stroll, I will be having an open studio this Sunday, from 3-7 pmDetails are here.  I welcome you to stop in and say hello, and make a day of visiting the studios of other local uptown artists.  Music lovers will not be disappointed either! (Again, see details.)

Now that SoHo has again become “off the beaten path” unless you’re looking for designer fashions, furniture, food, or bathroom fixtures, I’ve decided to visit some of the ol’ ‘hood’s die-hard art holdouts for March’s gallery tour.

We’ll head to The Drawing Center, Ronald Feldman Gallery, Location One, and more.

Details about meeting time and place will be posted here in advance.   The agenda’s loose, and all are welcome to crawl along with us for all or part of the rounds.

Traversing the vast expanse of Audubon Terrace always brings on a sense of exhilaration.  There just aren’t that many  wide open public spaces surrounded by imposing Beaux Arts architecture to be found these days.  So, last Tuesday night, passing the statue of El Cid on a rearing stallion, I took a deep breath of brisk air and soaked up the scene as I made my way to the American Academy of Arts and Letters for the opening of their annual invitational exhibition.

The Academy’s premises have just undergone an enormous expansion, and the new exhibition space is impressive.  There’s a lot of work in this show (116 paintings, photographs, multi-media works, sculptures, installations, and works on paper by 30 artists), up until April 5th, so I’m just going to point out a few highlights:

A trio of neon pieces by Stephen Antonakos infused the east gallery of the new space with their jewel-like glow.  This mature artist not only knows how confident, modern,  & minimal can still be engaging, warm & welcoming in terms of art, he lives it!

In the south gallery, three portraits (one of herself) by Ann Gale assert a subtle, yet undeniably strong presence.  The canvases coalesce animism of paint and the energy of the living human.  These paintings evince a kindred connection to Lucien Freud, but perhaps more importantly to both Cezanne and even Giacometti in the attention paid to locating a mark or bit of paint in a very particular physical space, with the paint simultaneously describing and deconstructing.  When much portraiture relies on photography and digital resources, becoming flat and lifeless, these portraits hum and buzz and bristle with the intensity of living and looking — the experience of the eyes, interpreted by the mind behind them, without any intervention.  The portraits’ subjects are rendered alive and real, and the recognition of  these daubs of paint coming together to convey an individual with such psychological power is to wonder at how our own cells happen to hang together to create the assumed reality of self.

Artists ultimately selected to participate in this exhibition have first been invited by one of Academy’s members to submit work, so it’s a generally high bar of peer recognition.  In this year’s show, there are a number of big-name artists such as April Gornik, Gregory Crewdson, Roxy Paine, and Beverly McIver.  To these eyes, the biggest surprise and stand-out of the exhibition came by way of paintings bearing titles like “To Crack a Smile,” and “Vaudeville Hook” by David Nelson, an artist with whom I was not familiar.  Nelson’s non-objective canvases are both technically and aesthetically seductive in a manner as modest, genuine and self-effacing artist as the artist himself.  I’ve rarely met anyone who seemed so truly touched and surprised to receive well-earned compliments and congratulations.  Unfortunately, my camera was out of juice, and I couldn’t find any other images of his work on-line to show you, so you’ll have to take my word for it or go see for yourself!

[images above: Audubon Terrace looking east, c. 1950, courtesy American Academy of Arts & Letters; Installation view of work by Stephen Antonakos, “Departure” 1993-2007,  61 x 51 x 5″; “Arrival” 2008, 88 x 46 x 5″, and “Respite” 2000-2001, all pieces white paint on versacel, neon, copyright and courtesy of Stephen Antonakos; Ann Gale, “Self Portrait with Blue Stripes”, 14 x 11″, oil on masonite, courtesy of Hckett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, copyright Ann Gale.]

Our February 13th gallery crawl began at  Howard Greenberg Gallery on 57th Street, in the magnificent Fuller Building, itself a fine example of Art Deco architecture.  We passed beneath the limestone frieze by sculptor Elie Nadelman, and headed up to the gallery to see an assortment of photographs from India.  There are three separate exhibitions on view, Betsy Karel: Bombay Jadoo, Sacred Sight, and Mary Ellen Mark: Indian Circus, all united by the theme of India . (On view until March 14th.)

Off in a side area is a very small selection of photos of Indian circus performers by Mary Ellen Mark.  You could easily make the mistake of bypassing the unobtrusive portal to this strange and impassioned world.  Mark’s camera seems to disappear, and the viewer steps right into her place, experiencing with a direct jolt the intensity of connection with her subjects.

Betsy Karel‘s “Bombay Jadoo” and the assortment of  photographs in the main gallery by ‘Anonymous’ to not-so-anonymous artists like Margaret Bourke-White and Henri Cartier-Bresson fully rounds out this large range of images that effectively transports one to India old and new, conveying little of the misery, and much of the jadoo (A Hindu term for magic or wonder-working).

From there, we saw Judy Pfaff‘s show Paper, at Ameringer Yohe Fine Art. [Exhibition closed Feb 21.]  An affinity between sculpture and drawing is often remarked upon, and that was clearly evident here.  These pieces exist somewhere in the realm between the two disciplines, leaning closer to relief sculpture and assemblage or collage, but none of those are fitting labels.  They are works on/of paper, but you can find just about anything else amidst the layered and cut paper, including  found images, ink, wire, artificial flowers, coffee filters, plant stems, fishing floats, and umbrella parts.  The colors range from earthy to day-glo, and as wild and chaotic as these pieces may be, one doesn’t lose confidence in Pfaff’s ability to orchestrate the entire composition.  It’s easy to envision how these pieces would evolve organically in the studio with the artist deliberating over each decision to build the complete whole, which deceptively looks as if it burst forth into being all at once.

Pfaff’s dynamic works encompass the complex experience of the natural world around us.  Within each piece one can find beauty and decay, messiness and fine detail, chaos and order, fear and delight — all the stuff of life.   Pfaff comes across as a fearless, mature artist who obviously loves her creative process — one of discovery and adventure.  Viewing this work, you feel you get to take that exciting ride along with her.

Next was Kori Newkirk’s show at The Project [up until March 20th].  There was something very affecting about being in The Project’s space.  Rounding the corner from the large, open main room, one turns to the left and enters the more intimate gallery spaces.  There are less than a handful of pieces in this show–three  drawings in the small front room, and then a lit, sculptural piece in the darkened back space.  The sensitive, seductive lines of Newkirk’s drawn self-portraits are done using bleach on pigmented paper, a sort of reductive process that appears paradoxically both ghostly and very physical. For such a spare show, Newkirk’s work fills the space with a silent forcefulness that has remained strong and persistent in memory.

At the front of the gallery, there is a display of literature on some of the other gallery artists.  I picked up a catalogue on Julie Mehretu, and although Meheretu’s accomplished drawings/paintings are much more tightly worked than Pfaff’s, there seemed to be a visual connection, a language in common between these artists of different generations.

Jack Sal at Zone Contemporary Art, [closed Feb 28th].  This show presented a varied cross-section from small, naturally weathered lead plates that look allude to landscapes and natural phenomena, to minimal works on canvas of gesso, ink, and silk surgical tape.

As noted in the gallery’s press release, Sal is an under-recognized artist in the United States, in spite of his long, accomplished career, including a series of site-specific installations in Europe, collaborative projects with William Wegman and Sol Lewitt, and inclusion in public collections such as MoMA. In the front of the gallery, one was able to get a nice sense of this artist’s journey by spending some time with a wonderfully installed wall of dozens of widely varied smaller pieces, hung salon-style.

We ended up at MoMA to see Rebus (closed Feb 23), curated by artist Vik Muniz, and while there, also stopped in to see the show of work by Marlene Dumas, both of which have been widely reviewed.  A “rebus” is a combination of visual images and symbols that piece together to add up to another meaning.  As a kids’ brainteaser, you might see a letter, then a plus sign, then an image that would add up to an unrelated word or phrase.

Muniz was the 9th artist in MoMA’s Artist’s Choice series to don the curator’s hat and hand-pick this show from the museum’s vast collection.  The pieces included are not just culled from the art collections, but also include many design items, such as a piece of bubble wrap, that may leave viewers scratching their heads.  But scratching your head is indeed part of Muniz’s intention, as this show is one big brainteaser.  You are intended to follow through it  as chronologically installed, and make a connection between each piece you see and the one situated before and after it.  This makes for some fun, especially if you’re visiting with friends.  Who can guess the connection first?

I feared Muniz’s concept would turn out to be a bit of a one-liner, leading one to dash away as quickly as one could figure out the connection,  rather than stopping to really consider the pieces in the show.  “Oh, it’s yellow, and the glass piece that looks like an egg-yolk is yellow, and next to that is a timer, like you’d use to time your egg, and next…”  But besides providing an easy in for looking at the work, it also provides a context to think about the ways art connects to our world, the ways it evolves from our world, the ways things are connected, and ultimately to the basic concept that making connections between things is a key to understanding.  The show’s first piece is the tremendous 1987 homage to Rube Goldberg in film by Peter Fischli and David Weiss called The Way Things Go, and it’s hard to go wrong with a start like that!

Countering the amusement of Rebus, the Dumas show, Measuring Your Own Grave, (closed Feb 16), was a roller coaster of ups and downs.  As the title would imply, pretty down.  Dumas has no shortage of technical skill, obvious in her ability to conjure human features out of  aqueous washes.  Although one of our gallery crawl gang described a room lined floor to ceiling with portraits as “100 paintings of village idiots,”  the portraits stood out as the strongest, and perhaps most honest, work in the show.  The sexuality or morbidity of much of her work, which has certainly fed the astonishing trajectory of her status as art-celeb, feels manipulative, cynical, and not particularly interesting no matter how technically adept.   The shock value Dumas seeks falls way short of that a painting like L’Origine du Monde by Gustave Courbet (warning: not safe for viewing at work!) still has, or at least half of the work by Egon Schiele (also not safe for work!).

Dumas seems to be present, her work at its best, with the riveting series of portraits.  There, she seems to be searching for something, and strange visions emerge from the depths of  her inky washes.  The more narrative paintings on sex, death, and racial politics, mostly fall flat, coming across as cold and calculated.  Of note, she works from photographs, and that safe distance from the realities of the flesh she’s depicting may be part of the problem.  It’s easy to draw a bead between some of this work and Andres Serrano’s photographs, which probably does not work in Dumas’ favor either. Painterly bravado aside, this show was a stark note on which to end the day’s gallery crawl thinking of the comparative difference in compassion and tenderness exuded by the work of Mary Ellen Mark, with whom we started (who has made pains to live amongst her models, including prostitutes), and Marlene Dumas (who runs from them).  But maybe those differing views are the whole point.

[Images above:  Contortionist with Sweety the Puppy, Great Raj Kamal Circus, Upleta, India, copyright Mary Ellen Mark , 19″ x 19″, 1989, Platinum print, printed later, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery; Benares, India 1956, copyright Marc Riboud, gelatin silver print, 40 x 30cm, printed later, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery; Konya, 2008, copyright Judy Pfaff, Layered/cut paper, Joss paper, found images, ink, wire, artificial flowers, wire, Crown Kozo paper, umbrella parts, framed: 94 1/2 x 94 1/2 inches, courtesy Ameringer Yohe Fine Art; Detail of drawing, copyright Kori Newkirk, bleach on paper, courtesy The Project Gallery; White/Wash III, 2008, copyright Jack Sal, courtesy Zone Contemporary Art; Yellow from the series Line, Form, Color, 1951, copyright Ellsworth Kelly, colored paper, 7-1/2 x 8″, The Museum of Modern Art; Yolk, 1999, copyright Kiki Smith, Multiple of glass, overall: 3/4 x 1-1/2 x 1-1/2″, The Museum of Modern Art; Timer  Model No. 152, 1960, copyright Rodolfo Bonette, ABS polymer, 2-3/8″ x 4-1/2″, The Museum of Modern Art; Installation view of portraits by Marlene Dumas at the Museum of Modern Art.]

Kay WalkingStick will be having a retrospective works on paper exhibit at the Grossman Gallery of Lafayette College in Easton, PA, opening March 7th. The show will remain on view until April 25th. The artist will be giving a lecture on the development of her work at 4:00 pm at the Williams Center, also at Lafayette College, after which there will be a reception.  [More information, PDF]

“The works in this exhibition were completed over a 20-year span and directly relate, often as value studies, to the paintings made at the same time.

When I look at these works, I see and remember different periods of my life, various states of mind. My mind.  Drawing is the most direct medium; it is as immediate as dance, and often as vigorous. Each of these series of works represents one of four rather distinct decades of my life, expressed very directly in marks, like a journal. The earliest are representative of the minimalism of the New York art world, and my involvement in it. The colorful group of oilstick works from the 1980s reminds me of my travels in the Southwest; the dark charcoals of the late ’80s and early ’90s are of loss and redemption; and the final charcoal drawings are about my life in Rome and the possibility of refound love. These drawings are a chronological representation of my life.” —Kay WalkingStick

[above image, copyright Kay WalkingStick]

On Thursday, I had a couple of hours to dash through The Art Show of ADAA member galleries at the Park Avenue Armory.  Given the amount of work on view, you do have to keep up a fast pace to see it all in that amount of time.

The overall mood of the dealers was perceptibly and understandably somber, and the show had far less exciting work to offer than usual.  Some galleries had a big sticker next to a piece stating “ADAA Dealer’s Choice.”  At first, I didn’t know what this meant, but apparently it was code for “This piece is $10,000 or less!  Get your bargains here!”  They might as well have had a sign “Buy one, get one 1/2 price!”  It was depressing, and if you were the artist who created the “Dealer’s Choice” piece, I bet you’d cringe to see that big, ugly sticker next to your work.

I missed encountering the wild and unknown tangential work of major artists, often sequestered in private collections forever, which had become the main thing I always looked forward to seeing.  Nonetheless, there were still plenty of things that stood out, and as always, I wish I had more time to peruse!

Here’s a list and some pictures of highlights:

Ron Nagle at Rena Bransten Gallery.  Nagle’s two diminutive sculptures on view were some of the most surprising and original work to catch my eye.  A catalog from a recent show of his made me crave to see even more.  The work has something of the comic sadness of Guston.  Nagle’s idiosyncratic use of form and color make these engaging abstract sculptures both entirely human and entirely his own.  [Above, a mere 7″ tall,  “Scrunchabunch,” copyright Ron Nagle, courtesy of Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco.]  Also at Rena Bransten, a beautiful wire piece by Ruth Asawa.  A rare treat to view work by this superb artist.

Above: An untitled slate sculpture from 1945 by Isamu Noguchi (for $1.2 million) at Martha Parrish & James Reinish.  This booth also had a couple of outstanding Milton Avery landscapes, pure and simple.

One could watch the subtle movements of  Julian Opie’s digital piece Maria Theresa with Red Shawl, 2008, above, at Barbara Krakow, for hours.  It was interesting to overhear discussions about the problems the technology of this work presents in terms of preservation and conservation.  It’s a concern for the artist, collectors, and museums alike.  There were some other powerhouse works in this booth, notably Tara Donovan‘s untitled (glass drawing) and a very dynamic series of wood block prints of spirals by grand dame Louise Bourgeois.

Sean Kelly Gallery had an impressive one-person show in the booth of two and three-dimensional work by Antony Gormley.  On their outer wall, the strong impression of this gallery’s vision was augmented by two powerful pieces by Callum Innes, whose work we recently saw there on our gallery crawl last month.

Brice Marden’s 1983 screenprint of two brush-stroked squares at Mary Ryan.

Ameringer Yohe Fine Art had a whole wall filled with a grid-installation of Hans Hoffmann’s exuberant ink drawings from St. Tropez. [image above]

Nicola Tyson‘s imaginative figure drawings and funky paintings had a strong impact in a solo show at Friedrich Petzel.

A stunning black columnar wall sculpture by Peter Alexander at The Elkon Gallery.

George Rickey‘s marvels of interia — kinetic sculptures at Maxwell Davidson.

More selections from the show can be seen at’s ADAA preview. See this link for images of work I would recommend seeking out at the armory such as: Donald Judd prints (solo show at Susan Sheehan), Lee Bontecou’s drawing at Knoedler and Company, Sol Lewitt large gouaches at PaceWildenstein, Elizabeth Turk’s marble ribbon sculptures at Hirschl & Adler Modern. (Knoedler had very informative labels next to the works by various artists including Richard Pousette-Dart, Lee Bontecou, and James Castle.)

Most depressing work in show: Mel Bochner at Peter Freeman, Inc. An entire booth devoted to blue paintings scrawled with the word “BLAH” in dripping white paint, top to bottom.  But neither dealer nor artist are feeling so ‘blah’ since at least one had sold for $90,000 already.

The Art Show runs through this Monday, Feb 23rd, 6pm.  See the ADAA site for details.

The more they remain the same.  Just a little something for you to chew on while I work on writing up last week’s gallery crawl!

And while I’m squeezing that in, I hope you’ll be doing something creative and not succumbing to any of these creativity killers.

Looking forward to the ADAA‘s The Art Show to benefit Henry Street Settlement, held at the Park Avenue Armory, Feb 19-23.

Just a reminder that the gallery crawl is slated for Friday, February 13th.  All are welcome. The plan is to meet at 10:30 a.m. at Howard Greenberg Gallery at 41 East 57th Street to see an assortment of photographs from India. (Note: East 57th, not to be confused with 41 W 57th where we’ll go later!)  From there, we’ll go see Judy Pfaff at Ameringer & Yohe, 20 W 57th St, possibly stop in to see Kori Newkirk’s show at The Project, 37 W 57th St, then Jack Sal at Zone Contemporary Art, 41 W 57th St. We still may have a few random detours, but the plan is to end up at MoMA to see Rebus, curated by artist Vik Muniz. I have scored a bunch of free passes to MoMA, so admission will be free or cheap, depending on how many we number. If enough time and energy remain, then we may head up to see the second part of the Fred Sandback exhibition at Zwirner and Wirth at 32 E 69th Street.

The gallery crawl continues to be an organic thing.  If you want to join us midway, just call me at 917-992-4001 to find out where we are.