* German Measles + The Surprisers @ Shea Stadium / 20 Meadow St, Bushwick (L to Grand), 8p, $7. A tried-and-true combo here, w/ the crazy party-rockers German Measles and retro-tinged grooves of The Surprisers, plus some member sharing. w/ the hallucinogenic duo Easter Vomit (which includes Jacob of The Beets).
* "Centre Stage" (dir. Stanley Kwan, 1992) screening @ Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd Ave (F to 2nd Ave), 9p. Kwan's sumptuous adaptation of Ruan Lingyu, the "Chinese Garbo", w/ Maggie Cheung in the lead role and Tony Leung Ka-Fai as pre-Communist film director Cai Chusheng.
* Gary War @ Coco 66 / 66 Greenpoint Ave, Greenpoint (G to Greenpoint), 9p/$7. Quintessential Captured Tracks lo-fi beefed up w/ a sinisterly fierce live group, coupled w/ War's hook-laden lyrics buried beneath underwater distortion. Add Prince Rama and Amen Dunes for a druggy experience.
* "Russellmania!" Ken Russell retrospective @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St). The "good" period of Britain's cinematic enfant terrible, the classic '60s and '70s works of Russell are really quite beautiful — even when he swings further into rock-opera territory in the mid-70s. The fact that some of the rarer films (incl. "The Boy Friend", which is nearly impossible to find stateside) are screening, and that the subversive master is attending most of the evening screenings, is double reason you should pay attention. THRU AUG 5
* "The Devils" (dir. Ken Russell, 1971) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), 7p (part of "Russellmania!"). Panned by critics, unavailable on DVD, w/ Vanessa Redgrave in perhaps her most controversial role (a deformed, sexually repressed Catholic nun) and Oliver Reed as a "bewitching" priest. If you thought the papal runway show in Federico Fellini's "Roma" was a takedown of the Church, wait until you see Redgrave's hallucination of Reed as a brawny, crucified Christ (let alone the denouement). Highly recommended! ALSO SAT 3:45p
* "Regular Lovers" (dir. Philippe Garrel, 2005) screening @ 92Y Tribeca / 200 Hudson St (1/ACE to Canal), 7:30p/$12. A gorgeous, sexily b&w film set in Paris '68, w/ Garrel's floppy-haired son Louis (playing a poet, seriously) and the beautiful Clotilde Hesme (playing an artist), plus a motley crew of musicians, painters and sort-of anarchists during the student riots. The dance party scene w/ The Kinks' "This Time Tomorrow" is crazy good.
* Julian Lynch + Ducktails @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8:30p/$7. The tastiest beach-grooves show in town. Lynch has a dope LP out, "Mare", and Ducktails (Matt Mondanile of Real Estate) has a new loops and guitars full-length debuting now. Some much-needed bliss from all the city rush. w/ Campfires and Big Troubles
* "Women in Love" (dir. Ken Russell, 1969) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), 8:30p (part of "Russellmania!"). One of Russell's earliest, which reminds me a bit of Anton Chekhov's "The Duel", only set in WWI-era England, plus we have a nude Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling "Japanese-style".
* Warm Up: Animal Collective (DJ Set) @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E to 23rd St/Ely Ave, G to Court Square), 2-9p. Get ready for a mind-melting set of atmospheric noodling and songs you've NEVER heard before, ever, but b/c you're such a diehard AC fan (esp. Geologist, who's looking quite good recently) you'll endure it anyway and love it.
* Sonic Youth @ Prospect Park Bandshell / Prospect Park West @ 9th St (F to 7th Ave), 7p/FREE. Haters gonna hate, but seeing New York's own seminal purveyors of '90s No Wave and art-rock, w/ variously noisily indulgent and polarizingly melodic interludes, for free in Prospect Park on an ideally beautiful late-summer's eve is, well, dope. Couple that w/ openers Talk Normal, today's answer for the best of No Wave w/ their seemingly minimalist outfit, and Cali's scratchy lo-fi outfit Grass Widow (who claim Brooklyner Miss Frankie Rose as a former member), and you've got yet another ideal NY free concert experience.
* "The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). Some ideas to keep in mind: sculpture is 3D, photography 2D (I'm not talking holograms here or other visual trickery/installations). The traditional respective definitions of the above state as much. Sculpture should be explored from all angles (unless you have somebody like Anish Kapoor, who can force you to see everything at once or only parts at a time, in a disconnected manner). Photography generally carries a deliberateness to it, the photographer's decided angle, crop, POV etc etc. Here we have a mix of the two, static, deliberate images of 3D forms, and it's an extensive lot, too, as you should preclude from the date span. Lee Friedlander, Man Ray, Hannah Hoch, Robert Gober, Bruce Nauman, Marcel Duchamp and loads others show here.
* "The Boy Friend" (dir. Ken Russell, 1971) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), 8:15p (part of "Russellmania!"). Easily my favorite Russell film, and impossible to find stateside (if you've any tips, let me know). Twiggy's super-cute acting debut as the lead in a riotous theatre troupe, a surreal adaptation of the Sandy Wilson musical.
* The Pool Parties Block Party @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy) + thereabouts, 2p/FREE. Jelly NYC just unveiled this afternoon/evening of wildness, feat. twin performances by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists at 110 Kent Ave (aka East River State Park), then at Brooklyn Bowl later in the night. My pick? If you want wild debauchery and dancing to grungy indie rock (a la Black Lips and Apache), stick around 110 Kent. If you want indoors proper face-melting music, from my personal faves Darlings and then Ted Leo, get thee to Brooklyn Bowl early (tunes begin at 6), stopping at N 11th & Kent for a bit of dodgeball and free Zico coconut water (fluid replenishment, people) along the way.
* "Heat Wave" @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 531 W 26th St 2nd Fl. Lombard-Freid is moving! One of my favorite, international-cast galleries is moving down to 19th St this fall. I think this is quite a nice way for them to conclude their 26th St, 2nd Fl space, a group show of young(ish) artists from the Middle East (and Indonesia). The photography is strong here, Bani Abidi's "Karachi" series of domestic tasks shown outdoors at dusk, after the ritual fast, and Mounira al Solh's "Elvis" series. Eko Nugroho's stunning, shimmering textile and works on paper are cartoon-tinged politics and NY-based Maya Schindler's raw media installation and text-based works strip her language to its barest forms.
* John Zurier, Jason Fox, Richard Allen Morris @ Peter Blum Chelsea / 526 W 29th St. An excellent interplay b/w these three artists, all ostensibly abstract. I loved Morris' most quickly, his straight-from-the-tube squeezes and spreads across certain delineated portions of otherwise pristine painted canvas. Zurier's room of subdued bluish-purplish-greens, striping massive canvases, slightly recalls the Rothko Chapel w/o the reverence (and somehow gloomier). And Fox's mostly monotone (reds) set echoes both artists, w/ his stripes (Zurier) and his carefully pared-down canvases (Morris).
* "The Evryali Score", curated by Olivia Shao @ David Zwirner Gallery / 525-533 W 19th St. The exhibition began at MoMA PS1, with Shao's "The Baghdad batteries", the first of four rotating galleries during 'Greater NY', before reconfiguring — and tremendously expanding — at Zwirner. The larger space and multiple rooms is definitely to the exhibition's benefit, I think, as though these are incredibly discreet works, they still require room to breathe and for better contemplation. The 525 space contains much of the reconfigured PS1 show, w/ a few swaps (Marcel Broodthaers' gold under glass replaces Walter De Maria's shiny "Power Bar") and additions, like the stunning, subtly shimmering Willem De Rooij wall-spanning canvas. Though I suggest you begin w/ 533 (if you missed the PS1 version, no biggie), w/ the duet of John Knight's wall projection and (rarely exhibiting) Dutch conceptualist Stanley Brouwn's wooden wall piece. Brouwn's structure, like an inverted cube, calls attention to the gallery wall (and floor) itself, causing us to note its levelness (or slant) and the surrounding space. Craig Kalpakjian offers window-like (but windowless) abstract C-prints. Bernadette Corporation (one of several collectives in the show, the cheekily named Reena Spaulings is another) has a multiscreen Fendi video that works in conversation w/ Josef Strau's lamp installations in both galleries. And I'll bet you've never seen a wooden Claes Oldenburg relief before. And those grayed-out names on the show program, coinciding w/ fake birthdates? That's Sonia Lucerne's "Checklist Intervention".
* Bill Beckley "Et Cetera" @ Tony Shafrazi Gallery / 544 W 26th St. A great headlong dive into Beckley's color-conscious abstract photography, from the cheeky '70s stuff to the super-saturated, non-representational current works. Think flower stems as tall as you are, set against a gradient backdrop. Think photographic juxtapositions, sort of like James Rosenquist (usually incl an abbreviated body part) w/ poetry. And the most head-scratchingly sharp captures of glistening water and reflections, everything juicily colored like the sexiest product adverts.
* Summer show @ Robert Miller Gallery / 524 W 26th St. You would think a summer group show (esp. one like this, bearing mostly artists from its roster and w/o a funny title) would be a really unfocused grab-bag. But that's not the case here: there is a great flow from room to room, in small groupings of each artists' work, and the only shrill note is that of Dustin Yellin (only sculpture in the show). The rest, Lee Krasner's lyrical, greenish abstract, early works on paper from Yayoi Kusama and Joan Mitchell, powdery Joseph La Piana facing amorphous Barthelemy Toguo and a chromatic day/night landscape diptych by Glen Rubsamen (straight out of Wong Kar-wai, only this is acrylic paint), are smooth sailing.
* "Swell: Art 1950-2010" @ Metro Pictures / 519 W 24th St + Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. Surf-art, specifically California art, is a great idea for a mega summer group show in NY. Seriously. These two galleries (plus NYEHAUS) are chock-full of sunny, salty, subversive, and stunning works, some good and others really fantastic. Metro Pictures wins the day w/ a powerful array of California Minimalists (Craig Kauffman, Larry Bell, Helen Pashgian, John McCracken, Peter Alexander) v. the freaky So-Cal lot (Bruce Conner, George Helms), though Petzel had a few surprising, must-see pieces (Ashley Bickerton's classic coral wave, Alex Weinstein's shimmering "block" and the R.Crumb comix). Vast as the ocean.
* 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.
* "The Fifth Genre: Considering the Contemporary Still Life" @ Galerie Lelong / 528 W 26th St. I dug the challenge behind this group exhibition: hopefully ejecting a bit of cool factor (or at least relevance) into that old art-history chestnut, the still life. And while there are some beauties here, it's not enough. It begins very strong, w/ a postage stamp-sized b&w print from Louise Lawler of a bouquet on a table, across from etchings/aquatints of dried flowers by Kiki Smith and a predictably sumptuous flower "portrait" from Robert Mapplethorpe. Then...I didn't get the inclusion of many other artists. Angelo Filomeno's chromed skull/axe explosion will grab your attention, but that's it. Same deal w/ Jaume Plensa and Petah Coyne. Some strong, moody instances from Alfredo Jaar (appropriately political), Miranda Lichtenstein (appropriately lo-fi and enigmatic) and Marti Cormand (a bit alien landscape-y, but cool) in an overall very uneven show.
* "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.
* Mark di Suvero @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. The classic 'Nova Albion' is my kind of massive sculpture, a teetering span of tethered logs and steel poles, like a Viking ship's mast, that blends rather elegantly with the ceiling and surroundings of the gallery space. di Suvero's bent-steel 'Totems' in the side gallery (one from just a few years ago) echo this artist's alchemical touch to the rigid medium.
* Roy Lichtenstein "Still Lifes" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. We have Lichtenstein, the maestro of Ben Day dotted comic book panel blowup Pop Art, to thank for resuscitating that old chestnut the 'still life' whilst simultaneously stripping it of ambience and realism. This massive collection of over a decade of work feat. the artist's characteristic razor-sharp representation (lines are hard, shadows have degradations only as dots or crosshatches, colors are generally primary and bold) in a diverse set of suitably banal subject matter. He reduces fruit to abstraction while elevating office equipment to beauty, and his work w/ reflections in metal and glass and his bold Cape Cod still lifes (juicy red lobster and all) are gorgeous. Several sculptures of note too, like the enamel "Little Glass" (1979) and the pun-titled painted bronze "Picture and Pitcher" (1978), which particularly exemplify Lichtenstein's deftness w/ negative space.
* Tim Hawkinson "One Man Band" @ The Pace Gallery / 545 W 22nd St. Though who needs a stinkin' group show when you have Hawkinson's uber-creative junk-sculpture assemblages to fill the gallery. Especially if said assemblages make noise! Slide-whistle tree branches, steak-knife music boxes, and other such "Star Wars" cantina-esque mayhem.
* 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.
* "Christmas in July" @ Yvon Lambert / 550 W 21st St. It's bloody hot out so why not a summer group show themed to the wintry holiday? Matt Keegan's paste-up Google images-esque chart is a tidy comparison: Santa v. a fat beachgoer, Uggs v. flip-flops, fruitcake v. a sand castle, a wrapped package v. a hot male in a Speedo. Beyond this, which is oddly addicting, is a lot of appropriately either garish or attention-demanding works, some nice classics from John Baldessari and Lynda Benglis, a funny Christian Holstad assemblage of a yellowed square of carpet bearing the imprint (and shed needles) of an absent artificial tree, a Marepe ornament sculpture recalling Jeff Koons only way less precious, and loads else.
* Oh Sufan "Variation" @ Gana NY / 568 W 25th St. Another instance of a highly-influential Korean abstract painter (think Park Seo-bo showing at Arario in 2008) FINALLY having a NY solo debut (his last time in the city was sometime in the '80s, I think). What we're rewarded with from Oh is a series of newish (he's very prolific) large, squarish oil paintings of vibrant backdrops, the sweeping brushstrokes still visible, overlaid w/ either diluted or inkily opaque streams of black paint, from calligraphic whiplike forms (think Brice Marden's "Cold Mountain" series, sort of) to wavy vertical lines. Very tasty.
* Rackstraw Downes "A Selection of Drawings: 1980-2010 @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. The masterful, draftsman-quality graphite landscapes from Downes is a welcome antidote from the busy, visually overloaded group shows populating the area. Despite one rather muscular rendering of the Henry Hudson Bridge, most of Downes' on-paper works (the George Washington Bridge, a cement plant, Canal St water-main project, a hydroponic tomato plant near Marfa TX) are emotionlessly precise, incredibly conceived but w/o the resonance of his paintings (which, as it happens, are in separate exhibitions that require traveling to the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton and the Aldridch Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield CT). That's not to take away from their visual achievement: the fact must be kept in mind that Downes works from-site on these, drawings AND paintings, and doesn't utilize photography.