* "Normal Dimensions", curated by Neville Wakefield @ Half Gallery / 208 Forsyth St. A tasty lot of introspection here. Things are not what they seem...like Susan Collis' signature haute-hardware (platinum staples, bejeweled screws), Carol Bove's incredibly delicate peacock-feather sculpture, w/ Xaviera Simmons and Olympia Scarry.
* "Inspired" @ Steven Kasher Gallery / 521 W 23rd St. You can take the direct homage of these contemporary artists to their generational forebears, but there is enough quality art here to stand firmly on its own. Some gorgeous moments incl. LaToya Ruby Frazier (doing Helmut Newton), Mickalene Thomas (as Manet), Anton Perich (as Steichen), Eric Kroll (as Man Ray).
* "Lisztomania" (dir. Ken Russell, 1975), screening @ Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd St (F to 2nd Ave), 7p. Oh if you thought Roger Daltrey of The Who as the mute, bare-chested lead in in Russell's psychedelic rock-opera "Tommy" was something else, you'll shriek in either delight or fear at him as the sex-addled Franz Liszt in Russell's prog-rockin' next feature. Case in point: Rick Wakeman (of Yes and the film's composer) appears as Thor and Ringo Starr is the Pope. Yes, really. ALSO SAT 9p.
* Small Black + Beach Fossils @ Mercury Lounge / 217 E Houston St (F to 2nd Ave), 9:30p/$10. I've been reading of late the terms "chill-wave" or "glo-fi" or whatever in the same breath as Beach Fossils. No: Beach Fossils do bouncey, sugared-up, sun-drenched, surf-inflected indie rock. Small Black, on the other hand, w/ the synths and programmed beats and crooning above all that in a head-nodding groove, THEY are chill-wave, if you absolutely MUST use that term. Dope show, nonetheless.
* "Subtle Anxiety: This Is How You Feel Now" @ Doosan Gallery / 533 W 25th St. Seoul's Doosan Gallery's emerging artists program continues this summer in NY w/ a three-artist show centered on contemporary social unrest, and considering the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (plus the wars, the global economy etc) there is loads of source material. w/ Jiyoon Koo, Jong Hyun Oh and Gyungjin Shin.
* "Grass Grows by Itself" @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. The SECOND of two summer-ish group shows at the gallery. Last one was way trippy, this one sounds way Zen, and that's a good thing, I think, w/ all the overstimulation one is prone to amid a climate of like a million artists showing in over the course of eight W Chelsea blocks. Expect super-sublime works from Carmen Herrera, Wade Guyton, Wolfgang Laib, Kianja Strobert, Cameron Martin + more.
* Aki Sasamoto w/ Saul Melman "Skewed Lines/Central Governor" + robbinschilds open studios @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Ely Ave, 7 to Courthouse Sq), 2p, part of "Greater NY". Sasamoto's cocoon-like performance last month, in the mosquito-net-draped back alcove of the boiler room, was partially a treatise on comedians and mosquitos, partially Sasamoto's Kafka-esque metamorphosis, zapping at the bug-lights with a straw, climbing and hanging from the pipes while belting out "Let It Be". It took her normally athletic lecture/performances to a whole 'nother level, and I'm excited where she takes episode two. Melman, meanwhile, stoically continues gilding the boiler. Performance duo robbinschilds stop in for their work-in-progress "I came here on my own", beginning at 3p upstairs in the galleries. ALSO SAT (during Warm Up) and SUN, same time
* "Inception" (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2010) screenings in wide release. From the initial teaser trailer (w/ that chill-inducing echoey bass), to the strong casting (Leo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Mario Cotillard), to the still-enigmatic subject matter (I "think" I get the plot), to the plain fact Nolan's got some great films under his belt, "Inception" is set up to totally rock our worlds. I sincerely hope it does.
* "Flaming Creatures" + "Scotch Tape" (dir. Jack Smith, 1963/2) screening at Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd St (F to 2nd Ave), 7:30p/8:45p. One of the most iconic examples of underground American cinema, Smith's blown-out, carnivalesque series of posings, attitude and fierceness set the tone for all those "superstars" that followed it.
* Thee Oh Sees + So Cow @ Seaport Music Festival / Pier 17, 80 South St (23/45/JMZ to Fulton St), 6p. Yeah I'm into Thee Oh Sees' addicting jangly, summery vibe, but I dig So Cow (aka one Irishman Brian Kelly) and his vein of pure guitar-driven indie rock even more.
* "Lost Highway" (dir. David Lynch, 1997) screening @ 92Y Tribeca / 200 Hudson St (1/ACE to Canal), 7:30p/$12. Watch Bill Pullman grooving out on the tenor sax, see Robert Loggia give driving instructions laced w/ gangsterese. Freak the hell out every time Robert Blake (as the Mystery Man) slinks onscreen, in this classic Lynch neo-noir thriller, which did the video-tape espionage thing way before Haneke's "Cache". Choice interchange, b/w Pullman and Blake at a party:
Blake: "We've met before, haven't we."
Pullman: "I don't think so....where was it you think we met?"
Blake: "At your house. Don't you remember?"
Pullman: "No, no I don't. Are you sure?"
Blake: "Of course. As a matter of fact, I'm there right now."
Pullman: "...what do you mean? You're where right now?"
Blake: "At your house."
* Siren Music Festival @ Coney Island (D/N to Stillwell Ave, F/Q to W 8th St/NY Aquarium), Noon/FREE. I'm all about the indie-inflected lineup this year, not for spastic headliners Matt & Kim or Canadian hardcore lot Holy Fuck (though I dig 'em, the latter). No, I'm going for The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Surfer Blood and Screaming Females. With my SISTER, b/c she is extremely cool and informed. Dig?
* Saturdays @ Rock Yard w/ The Beets / 354 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JMZ to Marcy), 2p/FREE. Jelly NYC's bimonthly free outdoor concert series in Wlliamsburg, held in a lot instead of the Waterfront but hell, as long as the music is dope that's fine w/ me. And if you don't feel like spending about an hour on the train out to Coney Island, stay nearby for The Beets. w/ X-Ray Eyeballs and Gun Outfit.
* Warm Up: Ratatat (DJ set) @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E to 23rd St/Ely Ave, G to Court Square), 2-9p/$15. So Ratatat behind the decks isn't quite the same as Ratatat's rock-infused electronic live show, but if they mix in any of their hotter tracks, like "Wildcat", it's going to be sick. w/ Sweden's Air France.
* So Cow @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p. Perfect Saturday? Catch Siren Fest then jet back to Williamsburg for Brian Kelly's no doubt frenetic headlining show at DbA.
* "Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). I'm reminded of that challenging, genre-busting Joan Miro exhibition nearly two years ago, spanning "just" a decade of the artist's career but neatly usurping everything from Surrealism, early abstraction, Dadaism and just plain PAINTING as a medium. I'm thinking this four-year shot from Matisse's arguably better-known career (at least for the casual art-goer, versed in the lush, vibrant dancing nudes and saturated "Red Studio" and the lot) will carry a similar essence of sea change. Expect a lot of Cubist-style works and a lot of gray and black.
* The Splinters (LA) + Heavy Cream (Nashville) @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, J to Marcy), 8p. Sick lineup! Another chance to catch Cali's all-girl retro indie rock The Splinters, this time w/ nearly all-girl grungy punk Heavy Cream from Nashville.
* The Splinters (LA) + Heavy Cream (Nashville) @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (F to 2nd Ave), 8p/$7. If you missed the DbA show, The Splinters and Heavy Cream team up again for another night of fierceness.
* Heavy Cream (Nashville) @ Union Pool / 484 Union Ave, Williamsburg (L/G to Lorimer), 9p/FREE. I'm attempting to hit all three Heavy Cream shows in Brooklyn, this third one being both 1) a record release party and 2) free.
* Jakub Julian Ziolkowski "Timothy Galoty & the Dead Brains" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. The dark horse in this summer art season is no doubt 30-year-old Ziolkowski's uncategorizable, fleshified, phantasmatastic debut solo NY exhibition. And yes, you practically have to make up a new vocabulary (at least in English, I'm not sure about his native Poland) and even that doesn't encapsulate the special atmosphere at work here. I, like most NY gallery-goers, met him at the New Museum's inaugural triennial, "Younger Than Jesus", where Ziolkowski's genre-defying paintings (like Archimboldo? Like James Ensor? Like, uh, Max Beckmann??) delighted as much as they perplexed. Meaning: he's an incredibly adept artist w/ a fresh POV, but where is he focusing it? On heavily detailed crowd-scenes? On visceral portraiture? His exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, for the most part, is a cohesive, bleeding, respiring landscape, Peter Saul mixed with Ziolkowski's own unique brand of flesh-abstraction. Some of 'em look like the results of the warp and melt tools in Photoshop, only rendered in oil. Others are frenetic, disturbingly lovely messes of bulging organs and eviscerated bodies (the Caligula scene is pure bodily comedy), capillaries and wrinkles proliferating. A few are almost Dali-Surreal, a nearly vacant, ghostly backdrop w/ an elongated sad figure slinking about it. Stunningly perverse.
* "Lush Life Ch 1: Whistle", curated by Omar Lopez-Chahoud & Franklin Evans @ Sue Scott Gallery / 1 Rivington St. I will review these shows in turn, based totally on the visual and instinctual as I haven't read Price's book. But the shows give us much to go on. We get a fair sense of the '80s LES immediately w/ David Shapiro's array of handmade "found objects" — the want ad, the 'steal this book', the NY Post. Alice O'Malley's signature C-prints set the scene (the Mexican restaurant El Sombrero, the Ludlow rooftops) and David Kramer brings not only cheeky reconfigured alcohol adverts but an entire bar (which had what looked to be nearly a full bottle of Jack Daniels last time I visited). Take a stroll, get to know your surroundings.
* "Lush Life Ch 2: Liar", curated by Omar Lopez-Chahoud & Franklin Evans @ On Stellar Rays / 133 Orchard St. Thus far, my 2nd favorite of the novel's exhibitions, thanks especially to the strong roster at this show. Ezra Johnson's mural-sized word painting, screaming DOUBT, sets the mood. Tim Davis' politically-toned, sharp C-prints depict neighborhood gentrification, as do Manuel Acevedo's suite of modified Polaroids, each w/ a drawn-on "future structure", which are more subtly echoed by Scott Hug's 'pizza slice' collages.
* "Lush Life Ch 3 "First Bird (A Few Butterflies)", curated by Omar Lopez-Chaoud & Franklin Evans @ Invisible-Exports / 14A Orchard St. This one keeps the bird-theme close to its chest w/ a nearly uniform, avian-related show. In that sense it falls short of the explosive humor and dialogue of On Stellar Rays, but it's got some great stuff as well. My favorites: the haunting, long-pan video "Silent Among Us" by Dana Levy, of a flock of live doves in a taxidermy lab and Karen Heagle's huge acrylic and ink work, of crows on the most beautiful mountain of garbage you've probably ever seen.
* "Lush LIfe Ch 4: Let It Die", curated by Omar Lopez-Chaoud & Franklin Evans @ Lehmann Maupin / 201 Chrystie St. The BIG show of the nine, even though it doesn't utilize the upper gallery floor, literally spilling out into the street w/ Robert Buck's "shrine". Lots of fine work here, from Robert Melee's "melted" interventions, Amy Longenecker-Brown's scene-setting paintings contrasted w/ Rashid Johnson's spraypainted text on a mirror. The neighborhood, as I understand it, is in disarray, so the resultant exhibition is suitably in flux.
* "Lush Life Ch 5: Want Cards", curated by Omar Lopez-Chaoud & Franklin Evans @ Y Gallery / 355A Bowery. The tiniest of the related exhibitions but incredibly to-the-point, w Rudy Shepherd's crude portraiture (are they mugshots or rather pleasant snaps of friends?) and Alisha Kerlin's (also showing at MoMA PS1) scattered deck of cards.
* "Lush Life Ch 6: "The Devil You Know", curated by Omar Lopez-Chaoud & Franklin Evans @ Collette Blanchard Gallery / 26 Clinton St. LaToya Ruby Frazier's b&w portraiture and Chakaia Booker's armored-detritus vest really elevate this chapter. One of the most intense exhibitions in the show.
* "Lush Life Ch 8: "17 Plus 25 is 32", curated by Omar Lopez-Chaoud & Franklin Evans @ Scaramouche / 52 Orchard St. My favorite of the lot. Jayson Keeling's glittery-surfaced wordy canvases are beautiful and require the extra introspective necessary for this entire exhibition. Karina Aguilera Skvirsky's childhood photography from Ecuador, Melissa Gordon's multiple-POV painting and Paul Pagk's encoded abstracts round out this destination spot.
* "Year One" @ Ana Cristea Gallery / 521 W 26th St. One of my favorites of the summer. Four fantastic, moody C. and E. European artists who are still getting little play in NY beyond this gallery. Alexander Tinei is my immediate favorite — his strong showing at NY VOLTA this past year sealed the deal for me — and this trio of new, dreamy nudes is riveting. Same deal w/ Josef Bolf's small, streaky, darker figures. Zsolt Bodoni's large, doomsday-ish industrial scenes and Daniel Pitin's smaller renderings from film stills balance the people with setting to create an all-inclusive haunting diorama.
* "Jo and Jack: Jo Baer and John Wesley in the '60s" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. Baer's son Josh curated this selection of paintings and works on paper by these two seemingly very different artists from their time living and working together in NYC. I've seen them separately many times, so I didn't get the hook: Wesley's flat, simplified, almost minimalist Pop-like figures and nudes v. Baer's extremely minimalist canvases, usually just a colored border around a white or off-white expanse. But the key here, in this beautiful exhibition, is how well the artists play off one another. How Baer's 3D-like "frames" echo the clean lines of a single or repeated Wesley character. Even how they applied the paint to the canvas and the respective sizes of the canvases relate, as if to experience one work you need to see the ones to either side of it.
* "Big PIcture", curated by Tom Sanford and Ryan Schneider @ Priska C. Juschka Fine Art / 547 W 27th St 2nd Fl. Artists Sanford and Schneider (exhibiting here as well, w/ some of the more "realistic" compositions) culled together an impressive group show that tends toward loose, muscular semi-abstraction. I'm referring to Lisa Sanditz' melted ice-cream-like addition to a parking lot, to John Copeland's typically texture-heavy brushwork, to Brian Montuori's Bacon-esque snarl of amorphous form against an exacting forest backdrop, to Aaron Johnson's visually pulsating, visceral Adam and Eve portrait to Jeremy Willis' howling dripping Dali-esque landscape of appendages.
* Summer Shows @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. OK, anytime you've got a summer show that includes a bunch of Anselm Reyle works, you've got my attention. Esp. when it's a double-bed-sized shiny silver crinkle under acrylic glass, splashed w/ pink, green and black paint. Or even cooler: when you pair Reyle w/ Mike Kelley's glowing silicone-ish "Cities" and and Florian Maier-Aichen's at once serene and slightly screwed-up landscape C-prints. Unbelievable on paper, how a textured-and-troweled Reyle "monochrome" would work off a Maier-Aichen smeared-color river and a Kelley sea-blue icicles screaming up toward the ceiling, but they totally do.
* "The Pencil Show" @ Foxy Production / 623 W 27th St. Artists doing fun and interesting stuff w/ graphite. OK: more than two dozen artists, cutting-edge and establishment, doing crazy stuff w/ graphite (whether it's their major medium or not). And: like twice that many works, encircling the gallery perimeter and mostly of intimate scale. I suggest you do a circuit, beginning near the front desk w/ Matt Savitsky's glisteningly textured, almost crumbled iron-like works, and take it all in, Kon Trubkovich's night photograph-style, Tomoo Gokita's gathering of loose portraiture, D-L Alvarez' pixellation, Dick Evans' creative minimalism... This was a "like" show for me, overall, but I was surprised but its breadth, so unless you just completely hate pencils there's something in it for you too.
* Jeronimo Elespe @ John Connelly Presents / 625 W 27th St. A beautiful new show from Madrid-based Elespe, furthering his scintillating small-scale portraits on aluminum panels. There's a certain sameness to the figures but their requisite elegance is undeniable. Think of Rembrandt's deep black backdrops, styled here as shimmering pool surfaces behind the sitting figure.
* Jeff Kessel @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. Amid this season of group exhibitions, we have the Brooklyn artist's solo debut at the gallery, and it's a beauty not to be missed. I caught him last year in a three-artist abstraction show at Bortolami, and I was quite taken by Kessel's large, troweled-paint canvases. This grouping of ecstatic new works, like the shadowy one invoking Louise Fishman's style, or the grayish, speckled one resembling a drop-cloth (or Josh Smith's style, only paint-on-canvas), is fantastic. For one reason or another, he's not in "Greater NY" (mistake!), but I think we'll be seeing much more of Kessel in the future.
* "Shape Language", organized by Natalie Campbell @ Nicole Klagsbrun / 526 W 26th St #213. An incredible group show amid a veritable sea of summer group shows, centered on the ostensibly simple thesis of color and form. We're rewarded with a very savory exhibition, anchored by Blinky Palermo's ovoidish gray form and peer Imi Knoebel's jagged, colorful collage. From these '70s-era springboards, the rest of the show is a voyage through the creatively minimal and patterned (Ned Vena, Zak Prekop, Joe Bradley) to the luxuriantly colorful (Amy Sillman, Patrick Brennan, Wendy White's particularly entrancing multicanvas work). Yes, it's all artists/styles I easily get into, but I think you will too. Trust me on this one: Klagsbrun's show carries my highest recommendations.
* "Spray!" @ D'Amelio Terras / 525 W 22nd St. I dug this multigenerational show involving artists using aerosol-based media as their main component, at least in what was featured here. This spans Yayoi Kusama's early '70s signature psychedelia and Dan Christensen's gestural spraypaint-on-canvas from '68 to Jacqueline Humphries, Rosy Keyser and Sterling Ruby today.
* Andy Warhol "Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall)" @ Nicholas Robinson Gallery / 535 W 20th St. For all the trouble in constructing this installation of eye-popping daisy panels behind a double-layer of running water (its summary destruction in Osaka in '69 and again in LACMA in '71), it's a calming, satisfying experience to see in person, finally fully-functioning and protected. Also: it's a cooling installation, what w/ the faint spray of water, depending on your proximity to it, and it's so bloody hot out as is...
* Leslie Wayne "One Big Love" @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 513 W 20th St. So there's this idea of impasto — thickly applied paint to the surface — then there's Wayne's signature violent, mesmerizingly beautiful version. She slathers the canvas, rips up parts months later, folding them onto themselves and then adds more paint, more layers. The end result are jewel-sized miracles that can resemble impossibly-colored wood-shavings, seashell insides, arctic landscapes, plastic food, and at the most 'simplistic' acid-colored twisted affairs not entirely unlike Steven Parrino. I dig, I dig.
* Gene Davis @ Ameringer McEnery Yohe / 525 W 22nd St. Classic colored-line test-pattern abstracts in acrylic or oil and Magna — to create that colored-pencil effect — incl. one massive wall-spanning canvas that you can get lost in.
* Josephine Meckseper @ Elizabeth Dee / 545 W 20th St. Don't let the chrome and mirrored installation blind you from the hard imagery, as Meckseper takes on the U.S. occupation in Iraq and trends of the U.S. Supreme Court, though all is drenched in hyperbolized luxury, 20" rims here, blinged out wristwatches there. If you've ever thought those alpha car lots lining 11th Ave were a bit...grotesque, you'll dig Meckseper's show.
* "Jack in the Space" @ Dean Project / 45-43 21st St, Long Island City. Heng-Gil Han, visual arts director of the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, curated an excellent six-artist show on diffusing space. Lishan Chang's charred baguette installation assaults you nasally before you even see the loaves, torpedo-like crawling the walls and leading you to Kyung Woo Han's walk-in Mondrian painting/video installation. Hyong Nam Ahn's more seductively sedate "Springtime in Brooklyn", a jagged neon, metal and wood sculpture like a robotic butterfly, deserves several passes.
* Hans Op de Beeck "Silent Movie" @ Marianne Boesky Gallery / 509 W 24th St. It's a wonder what gray-painted walls, charcoal carpets and crown moulding will do, transforming Boesky gallery into the interior of one of the artist's sparse, creepy landscapes. His large grayscale watercolors are augmented by "A house by the sea", a diorama that reminds me, of all things, of the setting of Mario Bava's classic giallo film "The Whip and the Body". The general unrest in this dollhouse-sized work requires careful viewing.
* "Homunculi", curated by Trinie Dalton @ Canada / 55 Chrystie St. An appropriately physical show, w/ strong works by Allison Schulnik (doing the impasto thing well, like a 'bouquet of flowers' painting), Matt Greene (and I must say, I'm really impressed w/ his works here) and Ruby Neri, particularly her doll-like duo, resembling like a delicate cross b/w Louise Bourgeois' knit figures and Folkert de Jong.