* Frat Dad + Beach Fossils @ Shea Stadium / 20 Meadow St, Bushwick (L to Grand), 8p. A night of sunny lo-fi, punk-tinged indie rock. If that's what y'r craving, go to Shea Stadium.
* Darlings + The Naked Hearts @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$6. A night of good-vibes indie rock. If that's what y'r craving, go to Cake Shop.
* Spencer Sweeney @ Gavin Brown's Enterprise / 620 Greenwich St. Sweeney's typical acrylic and mixed media paintings and drawings (ranging from effectively crude to astoundingly complex, a la Josh Smith) play off what he calls a 'rock opera' that will progress throughout the exhibition's duration.
* Paolo Ventura "Winter Stories" @ Hasted Hunt Kraeutler / 537 W 24th St. I caught a like two-spread feature on Ventura's C-prints of snowy street-scenes and just-abandoned rooms in the Nov issue of "Harpers" and I'm convinced. This exhibition also includes his watercolors and ink drawings: works in progress or standalone projects?
* Zhang Huan "Neither Coming Nor Going" @ Pacewildenstein / 545 W 22nd St. You know..I've been diligently finalizing my LIST TOP TEN end-of-year thing, and then Zhang's exhibition comes 'round. And it could be a game-changer. As in: the monumental ash Buddha "Rulai" (which may well rival last year's cowhide mother-and-child sculpture), imbued w/ various traditional offerings, plus a series of ink-on-paper works from traditional materials. Tasty stuff!
* Anthony McCall "Leaving (with Two-Minute Silence") @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. McCall augments his already stunning 'solid light' works w/ sound, for the 1st time in three decades, w/ the titular installation (a collaboration w/ composer David Grubbs), plus works on paper and another light-projection piece in the smaller gallery.
* "In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists since 1955 @ X / 548 W 22nd St. The coup de grace, ground floor exhibition in X's third (and final) wave of shows. A survey of classic and contemporary — and typically extremely avant-garde — serial works, from Robert Heinecken's modified Periodicals to Maurizio Cattelan's Permanent Food, w/ recent contributions from Tom Sachs, Roni Horn, Terence Koh and many others.
* "Il sorpasso/The Easy Life" (dir. Dino Risi, 1962) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/V to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 8p. Risi's sun-in-your-face ode to Commedia all'italiana, a wild ride through the Riviera w/ one bawdy middle-aged bloke (indefatigable Vittorio Gassman) and his younger straight-laced traveler (Jean-Louis Trintignant, like two decades before his chilling lead role in Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Conformist"), and of course lots of gorgeous girls.
* Matt Connors, Arturo Herrera, Merlin James "Building on a Cliff" @ Sikkema Jenkins & Co / 530 W 22nd St. Three painting-based artists w/ a penchant for exploring further means of expression. I'm most familiar w/ Connors' frame-like paintings and Herrera's terribly experimental works (everything from latex on the wall to hanging cutouts a la Kara Walker crossed w/ Robert Morris) so I wonder what they come up w/ in this show.
* Brian Calvin @ Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W 20th St. Acrylic paintings and ink-on-paper works of long-haired girls, interspersed here and there w/ the odd beachscape. Sounds perfect to me.
* Martin Wong "Everything Must Go" @ PPOW / 511 W 25th St 3rd Fl. A career-spanning glimpse into Wong's estate, feat. his '80s-NYC paintings of his urban environment plus rare photo collages and drawings.
* Bernardi Roig "Pierror le fou is (not) Dead" @ Claire Oliver / 513 W 26th St. Roig's creepy George Segal-ian sculptures are encumbered or obliterated by glowing fluorescent tubes and fixtures. I don't know what that has to do w/ the JLG-echoed title but it's got my interest.
* Ducktails + Gary War @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$8. NICE. Gary War's underwater Joy Division-ish songs v. the ear-tantalizingly gorgeous guitar-loops of Mr. Mondanile (Ducktails).
* Jon Pylypchuk "The War" @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. An installation of large-scale illuminated sculpture that echoes the Oceania Wing of the Met only made of household objects, or in the words of the gallery 'emo-pop'.
* "Hedy" (dir. Andy Warhol, 1966) screening @ Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd Ave (FV to 2nd Ave), 7p. Mario Montez portrays Hollywood siren Hedy Lamarr in a typically surreally Warholian affair, replete w/ Superstars (Mary Wonorov, Ingrid Superstar) and live music from the Velvet Underground. (ALSO SUN 4p)
+ "Vinyl" (dir. Andy Warhol, 1965) screening @ 9p. Warhol's take on "A Clockwork Orange" (Burgess version, not Kubrick's, obvs), w/ babyfaced Gerald Malanga in the hoodlum's role and Edie Sedgwick in a captivating (though totally silent!) cameo. (ALSO MON 7p)
* Tyvek + Air Waves + Noveller @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L/G to Lorimer), 8p/$8. Ahh I really want to make this show, but the acts I'm keenest about (Sarah Lipstate's drone-guitar show as Noveller, bliss-indies Air Waves) play first! Show up early for 'em, then show your love for Tyvek.
* Sharon Lockhart "Lunch Break" @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. The artist creates a portrait of an ironworkers' labor force via indirect means, a long tracking shot of the environs plus related C-prints of the workers and their telltale lunchboxes — all done in her signature vividness.
* "Duburys (Vortex)" (dir. Gytis Luksas, 2009) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St, 7p. This sumptuous b&w film, depicting a young man's movement through a Soviet-era world (replete w/ the military, corrupt jobs, and balanced romances), is in its stateside debut. (ALSO SAT 3:15p)
* The Beets w/ Great Lakes @ Brooklyn Tea Party / 175 Stockholm St #303, Bushwick (L to DeKalb, M to Central), 8p. I think I am most comfortable seeing Jackson Heights' ultra-catchy Beets at house parties.
* "Bicycle Thieves/Ladri di biciclette" (dir. Vittorio de Sica, 1948) screenings @ Cinema Village / 22 E 12th St (456/NRW/L to Union Square). Look how good you've got it, NY: De Sica's pinnacle to Italian Neorealism cinema playing multiple times on the big-screen, and out of festival too. Hard-working dad just wants to do good for his son, becomes a mobile sign-painter and gets his bike stolen straight out. Depressing in the classic Neorealist sense, but absolutely essential classic cinema.
* "Horse" (dir. Andy Warhol, 1965) screening @ Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd Ave (FV to 2nd Ave), 7p. If you haven't had enough Warhol already, this homoerotic take on the Western should do just nicely. Esp. due to the highly experimental, multiple-reel quality of the shoot itself. (ALSO TUES 8:45p)
* Vivian Girls + Yellow Fever @ Death by Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$7. I was afraid local girls Cassie Ramone + crew had outgrown the tiny dive-y DbA, now that their 2nd wicked album "Everything Goes Wrong" is out. But I'm so glad they're playing here again, as I dig their fresh punk energy in close settings. And Austin TX's stripped-down punk, courtesy of Yellow Fever, should do nicely.
* Tim Gardner @ 303 Gallery / 547 W 21st St. Gardner's new show in years at the gallery, comprised of large watercolors of singular figures in the environment, whether that's a forest or an urban concrete-scape. The compositions are quiet, but they have this underlying intensity that holds your gaze.
* Small Black @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$8. I 1st caught Small Black in July, same venue, when they opened for Beach Fossils, and now look at 'em, headlining less than six months later. Which doesn't surprise me, as their gritty brand of 'glo-fi' pop is as danceable as it is punkish.
* Audrey Kawasaki "Hajimari – a prelude" + James Marshall "And There Was War in Heaven" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St. YUM. Kawasaki's lovely nymph-like characters (oils on wood panels) v. Marshall's (aka Dalek) neon-drenched cartoonish 'scapes.
* Tyvek + The Beets @ Silent Barn / 915 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood (L to Halsey), 8p/$6. Second best thing to seeing The Beets perform a house party is when they perform in the kitchen of Silent Barn. And if you missed Tyvek last night, here's another opportunity to lose your mind.
* Gabriel Orozco @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/V to 5th Ave/53rd St, 6 to 51st St). One of the many benefits of being a MoMA member (besides the free admission and line-skipping) is previewing special exhibits. And I HAD to preview Orozco's retrospective before its proper Sunday public debut b/c I've got a year-end BEST OF LIST coming up on the blog and my reaction to this show would finalize my top ten picks for 2009. This hot exhibition is one of three of its kind this season (incl. Urs Fischer @ the New Museum and Roni Horn @ Whitney) and it is precisely unlike the biggies from spring/summer (think Jenny Holzer and Dan Graham @ Whitney, Yinka Shonibare MBE @ Brooklyn Museum, and if you will Francis Bacon @ Met, though that's a bit different). What I mean by this is the spring/summer retrospectives/solo exhibitions were, ostensibly one medium. Sure Graham's a conceptualist and Shonibare's stretched from his signature diorama installations to video, but a common thread was obvious (no pun, for Shonibare). The autumn/winter shows, however, are truly diverse: Horn's purely stoic, minimalist sculpture and landscape/portraiture C-prints; Fischer's trompe l'oeil mixed media sculpture and vivid depth-perception installations; and now Orozco. And you could call Orozco a conceptualist too, in his careful and subtle manipulation of reality and our known environment.
In one sentence: I dug the retrospective. Here's why: go straight upstairs and AVERT YOUR EYES on the way up (there's something hanging in the atrium, perhaps the 2nd best use of that space since Pipilotti Rist's inclusive video installation), and on the top floor you are confronted by two conflicting objects. A smoke-and-forest-filled wallpaper, punctuated in one spot by a bemused girl's head as she blows a bubblegum bubble (it's a very "Lifeforms"-era Future Sound of London, experience. Ten cool points if you get that reference), called "Notebook 6", fills nearly your entire frame of vision, but it's interrupted by "Elevator", a lifesize frighteningly machine-heavy lift, illuminated from w/in but removed from its traditional elevator shaft. Lying in its resplendent tonnage on the 6th fl of the MoMA, in wide-open view, it takes on a multitude of guises, prison chamber not the least obscure. And that's Orozco: plucking a seemingly familiar object and then suddenly it becomes something else. There are many cool things to see, though the empty shoe box at the beginning is just banal enough to throw you off-step — maybe that's the point? Orozco's 'circle' works come in a few flavors: the older gouache-and-ink "Atomist"s on either 'electrostatic' newsprint or common stuff like $ and Korean notebook pages, where the green circles morph virally out of seemingly nowhere to consume either the polo match or the lined paper; or the glisteningly bright "Samurai Tree"s from a few years ago, their gold-leaf finishes flashing under the gallery lights. The positions of the circles on this particular series follow the L-patterns of the knight in chess, at least that's what the museum explanation imparts, which makes sense b/c knights (and chess) figure into more of Orozco's art. Like the gorgeous "Horses Running Endlessly", a huge carved-wood chessboard from '95 outfitted entirely w/ knights. His knack for turning one thing into another figure strongly in the next room, like the haunting "Black Kites" (1997, a graphite chessboard on a real human skull), the textural "Eyes Under Elephant Foot" (2009, a flared, massive beaucarnea stump outfitted w/ glass eyes, a cross b/w Christopher Walken's iconic "Googly Eyes" skit on SNL w/ Jim Henson's "Labyrinth"), and of course "La DS", the skinny-fied Citroen that cuts knifelike across the gallery-space like some shiny, deep-sea, primeval fish. I don't believe I have so lovingly contemplated an automobile IN MY LIFE. C-prints (pay attention to personal fave "Cats and Watermelons", from 1992) and paintings (the large "Tuttifrutti", 2008, all slashed gold, orange and apple-green circles, is a winner) ground this truly mixed discipline show, permitting wilder, intense works — "Dial Tone", from '92, a Japanese scroll-like offering composed of painstakingly cut and assembled phone-book page slivers, leaving just the numbers — to roam unfettered. OK, now go downstairs and stand under "Mobile Matrix" (2006), the gridded whale skeleton suspended above and swimming in the atrium's air. And since I learned from Rist's super-descriptive title that the atrium holds about 7354 cubic meters, you'll have to trust me until you see it for yourself, but this Orozco giant needs every bit of that space.
* Blank Dogs + Led Er Est @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. CanNOT wait to experience the hot, gloomy grit of Blank Dogs, but just remember: beneath all the distortion and electronics, those are some really dope pop songs. Led Er Est's darkwave + Gameboy antics should be a good foil.
* "Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR" (dir. Jonas Mekas, 2008) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St, 12:30p. The festival heavyweight (literally in its five-hour screentime and abstractly in the subject matter), Mekas' recounting of Lithuania's independence and inception into the United Nations from March '90 through Sept '91, told via his home video camera and daily news broadcasts. I've seen clips of this, in an installation of Mekas' at Stendhal Gallery, and it's riveting, given his particular POV and his means of documentation: you feel as though you are living it, the liberation of Mekas' homeland, through his eyes.
* Olivier Zahm @ Half Gallery / 208 Forsyth St. Yum, typically sexy b&w (and a few color) prints from Zahm's close lens, of the requisite sudsy girls, cigarette haze, and twilit scenes. Several of the shots are accompanied by blown-up screenprints a la really wicked wallpaper, so the entire range functions sort of like an installation.
* Kazuo Shiraga "Six Decades" @ McCaffrey Fine Arts / 23 E 67th St. Lots of 1sts in this brief but intensely compelling show: 1st US solo show for the Zero-kai founder and Gutai member (think sort of like Japanese Fluxus, for absolute shorthand purposes); 1st in-depth catalogue in English; and I'll go ahead + posit that much of the works here (besides Shiraga's singular "Challenging Mud" from the mid-50s) have NEVER shown in the US. Much as contemporaries Jackson Pollock and Yves Klein approached the canvas w/ wildly new forms of abstraction, so did Shiraga, substituting his feet for brushes, to confidently energetic results. In fact, the range here is incredible, from the explosive reddish energy of "Chizensei Kirenji (Demon Face incarnated from Earthly Whole Star)" (Shiraga's titles are amazing, and remind me of Keiji Haino's lengthy, descriptive song titles) from '61 to the heavily impasto'd "Kanyou" from '80 and "Souryuu no Mai (Dance of the Two-Headed Dragon)" from '94 — both of whose densely textured surfaces are lightened by diaphanous strains of green and white, respectively —, to the fluid "Funryuu (Jetstream)" from '73, a dance of b&w alkyd paint that half resembles the melted deliciousness remaining at the end of a chocolate-syrup-inundated sundae.
* Tracey Emin "Only God Knows I'm Good" @ Lehmann Maupin / 201 Chrystie St. An extensive show of Emin's scratchy linoprint drawings and 'sewn' works on paper — which are really cool b/c they reference one another, and I have to wonder how hard it was to get the embroidery to so closely resemble her particular handwriting and line style. The art? Sexual, debasing, tongue-in-cheek. And don't miss upstairs, the only way to see the show title, rendered in Emin's handwriting in white-hot neon, like a beacon way up there.
* Andrzej Zielinski "Shredders" @ DCKT Contemporary / 195 Bowery. Zielinski's history of rendering common, dated machines (faxes, cordless phones, shredders) in odd-color, banal fashion, just got a whole lot cooler. His latest exhibition, of the lowly paper shredder, contains like a dozen complex mixed media works (involving what looks to be either wood or foam) on panels, creating texture-rich reliefs of the classic office objet.
* Hiroyuki Nakamura "The Sky Above" @ Thierry Goldberg Projects / 5 Rivington St. Think of the bad guys from "The Hills Have Eyes", done up in Western duds. Or, if you will, a cross between Kabuki makeup and John Wayne.
* Sol LeWitt, Keith Sonnier, Lawrence Weiner @ Leo Castelli / 18 E 77th St #3. A deceptively simple show, ostensibly three artists comfortable w/ wall art. But that's such a cop-out! Weiner's hot-pink "LAID OUT FLAT BENT [NOW] THIS WAY TURNED [NOW] THAT WAY (i.e. LOOPED OVER)" grounds the other two, the sunny yellow ruled and wobbly lines from LeWitt's circa-1971 wall piece (in contemporary terms, it looks a bit like Wolfgang Laib's hand-sifted pollen installations) and two very intriguing takes from Sonnier. The noisy one, feat. flickering lights, latex and a motor, feels more typical but the other, a wall-mounted trapezoid of flock w/ string, intrigues in its rawness.
* Lynda Benglis @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. Frozen bubblebath, my first thought upon viewing Benglis' tinted polyurethane sculpture "Swinburne Figure I", part of her exhibition of new relief works at the gallery. Everything crawls along the wall here, from other globular polyurethane objet (check the esp. effective orange-sun "D'Arrest") to the black patina'd bronzes (mimicking either coral reefs or coagulated chocolatey breakfast cereal), like the hand-like "Figure 3" and animale "Figure 5".
* Paul McCarthy "White Snow" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. A deliciously dirty show of new works from the relentlessly deviant (yet always grandfatherly) artist — at massive 7x10' McCarthy-scale paper collages. Beyond his usual charcoal drawings and scribbly oil-stick, these works incl. tears from exhibition catalogues (Christie's bears sharp notice, esp. extended views of Jeff Koons' shows) and porn mags. Good old Paul! The bizarre titles ("GAP", "Michael Jackson", "100") generally come from some magazine element on the massive works and obscurely reference the on-page action. Though by the time we get to "Inside Her Ordeal", a personal fave, the aforementioned dense maelstroms wash away into a rather spare piece, w/ a glassy eyed Snow grinning out into oblivion.
* David Hockney "Paintings 2006-2009" @ Pacewildenstein / 534 W 25th St + 32 E 57th St. I never thought I'd enjoy a straightforward landscape painting show as much as I enjoyed Hockney's. His renderings of Yorkshire, which mostly involves glades, felled trees and bunches of hawthorne, through various seasons, are magnetizing. The colors are fanciful (purplish roads, orange grass) yet visceral in his capture of the specific lighting. And the depth of these, esp. the woods, stretch for miles away. You know those scenes in Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blow-Up", when David Hemmings is in the park and all you hear is the sound of the wind through the trees? That's what this exhibition feels like.
* Mike Kelley "Horizontal Tracking Lines" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. Goodness, Kelley is a weirdo. His latest show is one heady trip, but it builds on his earlier accomplishments (coital rag-dolls, modified Abstract Expressionism, quirky video) so if you're familiar w/ his trickery, use his reputation to your advantage here. Expect: misshapen canvases bearing crudely rendered cartoonish or pornish figures amid smeared paint — and each of these is mounted on flat-color polychrome panels like massive pixels. Even better: the eponymous installation "Horizontal Tracking Shot of a Cross Section of Trauma Rooms", which feat. more polychrome bars and three test-patterened video screens that project, once the click-track ends, random, split-second (and generally hilarious) Youtube clips. Think less his narrative-driven "Day is Done" and more like Luis Gispert's "Pony Show".
LAST CHANCE (closing this weekend)
* "Figment" Group Show @ Kumukumu Gallery / 42 Rivington St. Guest curator Florence Uchida culls Rob Wynne and Gina Ruggeri for this complementarily trippy show. Ruggeri's Mylar cutouts (caves, tree roots) break up the otherwise bare walls, though Wynne's contribution really shines. His accouterments, glass mushrooms and bronze eggs, recall Roxy Paine's attention to hallucinogenic detail, but retain a whimsical influence — pun intended.
* Sean Scully @ Galerie Lelong / 528 W 26th St. The neatest part of Scully's show is sorting out which canvases are linen and which are aluminum, as the fuzzy-edged blocks of paint take rather well to each. Though, like the press release, I dig "LANDBAR" quite a bit, as he exposes one panel of aluminum amid the painted surfaces.
* Aya Takano "Reintegrating Worlds" @ Skarstedt Gallery / 20 E 79th St. The 1st solo show from the young Kaikai Kiki artist is a beaut, all pastel-toned acrylics of girls and animals interacting in a sort of stoned contemporary take on Amami Oshima Islands culture. Beyond what appears to be a flooded subway, most of the action occurs outdoors, in a landscape occupied by deer and cats.