* Georges Braque "Pioneer of Modernism" @ Acquavella Gallery / 18 E 79th St. Hell yes. And about time. Don't get me wrong: Picasso this and Picasso that is awesome. He was a romantic, an iconoclast, a legend. But when I think of Cubism, I think of his co-founder Braque, who went from leading the Fauvres w/ Henri Matisse and André Dérain to trailblazing the awesomeness of Cubism. This seminal retrospective of over 40 paintings and papiers collés, curated by Dieter Buchhart, is Braque's first major U.S. exhibition since the Guggenheim in '88.
* "The Anxiety of Photography" talk w/ Andrea Mellard @ Arthouse / 700 Congress Ave, 6p. Mellard, the interim curator at AMOA, leads a discussion on the collaborating institutions' significant photography exhibition.
* Ezra Masch "Music of the Spheres" @ Visual Arts Center / UT Art Building, 23rd St at Trinity, 8p. If you've visited the VAC, you might find UT MFA Studio student Masch's exhibition the subtlest of all: a wall "drawing" digitally printed on Tyvek and the titular installation of non-blinky electric lights and a glossy stage we're forbidden to step on. That changes tonight, as Masch pairs a modified Fender Rhodes piano wired to the colorful blinky-light matrix, initiating an enveloping (and enthralling?) A/V performance.
* "Jailbait Babysitter" (dir. John Hayes, 1977) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 10p. "Her friends call her jailbait…her clients call her anytime!" The one-liners begin w/ this sexy comedy's poster and continue into the credits. W/ Theresa Pare as the titular girl, dumping her sex-addled BF for a bunch of dirty hippies, then befriending a prostitute, then her BF again… I don't know, and a young John Goodman factors into this somehow. They don't dub it "Weird Wednesday" for nothing!
* Star Slinger (UK) + Shigeto @ Beauty Bar / 617 E 7th St, 10p. Beauty Bar?? Brian, you say, what the hell are you thinking man?? But check it: that bass? That's Shigeto of Ghostly International, on tour w/ UK "booty LSD" soothsayer Star Slinger. So sometimes I encourage you (e.g. myself) to travel outside the safezone of dive bars toward deep melodic epiphanies.
* James Blake @ Liquidroom / 3-16-6 Higashi, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote Line etc to Ebisu station), 7p/SOLD OUT. Yes! The young, rakish dubstep lord and nominee for the 2011 Mercury Prize sells out night one of his Japan Tour 2011. In Japanese I'd come back with "当たり前ね？" as in "OBVS". Bass in your face, soundscapes to soothe and unsettle simultaneous. Tokyo, I hope you're ready.
* Kim Beck "Under Development" @ Mixed Greens / 531 W 26th St. Beck works in large-scale drawings (from architectural to charcoal and lush) and a site-specific installation in her exploration of desire, stability and economic security.
* Rebecca Campbell "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" @ Ameringer McEnery Yohe / 525 W 22nd St. I consider this a bit of a departure for the gallery, though a welcome one, as they switch from modernism abstract, Abstract Expressionist and installation artists (think Al Held, Morris Louis, Judy Pfaff) to a younger, figurative painter who imbues her works with gestural, though dreamily realist, touches.
* Martin Wittfooth "The Passions" @ Lyons Wier Gallery / 542 W 24th St. The debut NY solo exhibition for the Brooklyn-based painter, who explores sainthood, martyrdom and religiosity from a contemporary standpoint.
* Anton Kannemeyer "After the Barbarians" @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 512 W 20th St. The Cape Town-born artist turns his satire to contemporary instances of political correctness and xenophobic wrath, depicting genocide in Rwanda and post-apartheid S. Africa with biting sociopolitical wit and boldly conceived renderings.
* Katharine Kuharic "Pound of Flesh" @ PPOW / 535 W 22nd St, 3rd F. Kuharic put some seven years into her latest exhibition, collaging stock images from junk mail and other sources into hallucinogenic, ultra-colorful painterly landscapes.
* "Attack the Block" (dir. Joe Cornish, 2011) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave/53rd St, 6 to 51st St), 7p. Badass: the museum screens a true example of modern filmic art, in one of my favorites of this year and, IMO, one of the best sci-fi genre films in the past 10+ years. It's deep space vs. the hood, w/ wisecracking (and ultimately heroic) kids protecting the projects from these totally unique, mysteriously frightening aliens. As leader Moses (John Boyega) says "allow it!" Followed by a Q&A w/ director Joe Cornish!
* Yuck @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$15. Night one of the UK-based indie-pop darlings latest visit. Used to be a stateside Yuck show was but a fleeting hope, as visa wrangling and whatnot prevented them from crossing the Atlantic. Luckily that's no longer the case. Get to "Holing Out" and bask in their melodic jams. w/ Porcelain Raft
* Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab/Monade) @ Mercury Lounge / 217 E Houston St, 9:30p/$12. Ah Seaya Sadier, so chic, so French! Whose nonchalance and honeyed vox in post-rock legends Stereolab had many a boy (and girl) falling in love. Plus she debuted an incredible solo effort last year, "The Trip". THis should be a magical night.
* The Crystal Ark + Light Asylum @ (le) poisson rouge / 158 Bleecker St (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St, 6 to Bleecker St), 11p/$10. Sometimes LPR throws these awesome late-night dance parties, which this would be solely by inclusion of Light Asylum, aka Shannon Funchess (and Bruno Coviello) and her nonstop punk-funk party. Add to it ensemble The Crystal Ark, helmed by producer Gavin Russom and diva Viva Ruiz, plus a combo of DFA renegades (Tyler Pope, Matt Thornley) and tropicalia-funk champs (Alberto Lopez, Sokhna Heather Mabyn) and this just even wilder.
* Yellow Fever (Austin) @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. Hill Country indie stalwarts Yellow Fever remind NYC that the Lone Star State knows how to do psych-rock right. w/ local crooners Ava Luna
* Pastelegram Issue No. 1 launch party @ Domy Books / 913 E Cesar Chavez, 6p. The debut print issue for local art periodical Pastelegram (already an online hub for historical and contemporary info conduits), w/ contributor Barry Stone in attendance.
* "The Thing" (dir. John Carpenter, 1982) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Village / 2700 W Anderson Ln, 9:50p. A week ahead of the shiny-new 2011 prequel/remake, revel in the peerless original, proof that cinematic foreboding and psychological dread win over gratuitous gore and blatant visuals if wielded by the master. And Carpenter is that master. Among the scariest, sickening horror films of its time and it's matchless even today. So yeah, it's about an alien unfrozen from Antarctic ice that shape-shifts into members of an isolated crew, converting them one by one unbeknownst to a bearded Kurt Russell et all…but it's so much more than that. Highly recommended!
* Anri Sala artist talk @ Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo / 15 Ichigaya-funagawara-machi, Shinjuku-ku (JR Sobu/Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Lines to Iidabashi Station), 3p/FREE (RSVP: 03-5206-2500). Ahead of his exhibition at Kaikai Kiki Gallery (see FRI), the French-educated, Berlin-based Sala leads a talk on his works. Plus, the institute hosts Sala's new sound/object installation "No Window, No Cry" (via Le Corbusier, Maison-atelier Lipschitz, Boulogne) for the duration of his Kaikai Kiki exhibition.
* April Gornik @ Danese / 535 W 24th St 6th Fl. There is an innate vitality and wonder within Gornik's large-scale landscape paintings, which tread the line b/w realism and dreams, that inspires travel and discovery as they plunge us into their depths. Her depictions of recent trips to Namibia and Tanzania are particularly inspiring.
* Keith Mayerson "Horror Hospital Unplugged" @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. The 225 original drawings comprising Mayerson's titular gonzo graphic novel, which was co-authored by Dennis Cooper!
+ Dominic McGill "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds", intricate drawings of phrases and collages reflecting the global economic crisis.
* "Texas Killing Fields" (dir. Ami Canaan Mann, 2011) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). A dark crime thriller loosely based on true events about the murder of women picked up along I-45 in SE Texas, starring Chloe Grace Moretz?? Sign me up!
* "Noriko's Dinner Table" (dir. Sion Sono, 2006) screening @ Museum of Arts & Design / 2 Columbus Circle (AC/BD to 59th St/Columbus Circle), 7p. My absolutely favorite of Sono's oeuvre (and I've seen practically all of 'em), this multipart family drama and thriller resides within and after his cult classic "Suicide Club"…but for me "Noriko" is even more disturbing and emotive. Family disconnect, suicide, communication and loneliness are explored in full effect here, w/ awesome performances by Kazue Fukiishi and Yuriko Yoshitaka (not just a cute face!) as sisters, Tsugumi as the mysterious and appealing Kumiko/Ueno54 and screen legend Ken Mitsuishi as a father who's actually learning stuff. Highly recommended!
* "Almost Perfect" (dir. Bertha Bay-sa Pan, 2011) screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 7:30p. "A 30-something career woman tries to find the balance between her demanding family and her perfect new boyfriend"…blah blah blah, BUT: when the 30-something career woman is the ineffable Kelly Hu (hello!!) and the perfect new boyfriend is Edison Chen AND they're (apparently) attending this screening…get on it, son!
* "The Woman" (dir. Lucky McKee, 2011) @ AMC Loews 34th St / 312 W 34th St (ACE/123 to 34th St). Super-limited screenings of McKee's notorious, grueling thriller, of a good ol' country doctor and family attempting to "civilize" a feral woman. If you frequent genre film blogs like I do, then you're familiar w/ the 2011 Sundance "buzz".
* Yuck @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$15. See my THURS comments on the awesomeness of Yuck. And see 'em twice if you can.
* Little Dragon @ Terminal 5 / 610 W 56th St (AC/BD/1 to Columbus Circle), 8p/$25. The Gothenburg lovelies return stateside, cloaking the huge-ass venue with Yukimi's smoky-cool Bristol-style R&B and her mates' electro-pop sheen. Added bonus: ?uestlove contributes a DJ set. w/ Javelin
* Beach Fossils + Minks + DIVE + Heavenly Beat @ 285 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$10. AKA a Beach Fossils-strong roster, incl. guitarist Cole's psych-kraut rock band DIVE and bassist John's outfit Heavenly Beat (plus Dustin et al's original surf-rock troupe)…and Captured Tracks' fiercest goth-pop lovelies Minks. Absolutely unmissable show, and perfect for the transition into autumn.
* Those Darlins + The Beets @ Bell House / 149 7th St, Gowanus (F/G to Smith/9th St), 8p/$15. Tennessee brings us retro-minded jangle-rockers Those Darlins and new LP "Screws Get Loose", Southern attitude in all the right degrees. They join Jackson Heights' finest garage-rockers The Beets for the singalong.
* "Something Happened Here", curated by Jennie Lamensdorf @ Champion / 800 Brazos St. Lamensdorf (who's based locally now but used to work at NYC's Leslie Tonkonow Artwork + Projects) pairs two NY-area artists in an exhibition spanning mediums though emphasizing mark-making, materiality and chance. Yadir Quintana presents "Portraits" (which reminds me, in essence anyway, of Rudolf Stingel's more experimental stuff) while Matthew Schenning exerts double-takes in his "Wall Rides" large-scale photography.
* "The Thing" (dir. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr, 2011) @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St. By now lovers of genre cinema have drawn a sharp line in the ground on this prelude to John Carpenter's singular '82 classic. Either you hate the new "The Thing", with its claims of practical FX but teaser trailers awash in CGI, with its boneheaded obviousness and the profusion of English-speakers despite it being a purportedly Norwegian team; or you're willing to give it a chance, possibly b/c Mary Elizabeth Winstead's in it and most definitely b/c you loved Carpenter's "The Thing" so much, that even though you KNOW the new one won't hold a candle to the original, it still might be pretty damn good.
* "El Bulli: Cooking in Progress" (dir. Gereon Wetzel, 2011) @ Violet Crown Cinema / 434 W 2nd St. Didn't make it into this Catalonian marvel, Ferran Adria's hub for molecular gastronomy and haute cuisine of the "hautest" level on the planet? You never will, as elBulli will reopen as a creativity center in a few years, bidding its half-year seasons adieu as of summer 2011. So this observational documentary will have to do, tracing goings-on in the laboratory kitchen…and never before have I wished for "smellovision" like now.
* Anri Sala @ Kaikai Kiki Gallery / B1 2-3-30 Moto-azabu, Minato-ku (Hibiya Line to Hiroo Station). Three new video pieces and an immersive environmental work from the time-based Albanian artist, restructuring our sensations of everyday life.
* "L'Heure Verte" @ Superdeluxe / B1F 3-1-25 Nishi-azabu, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Oedo Line to Roppongi Station), 10p/3500 yen (2500 yen, women). Check it: an absinthe-themed early Halloween party, w/ DJs Arata Nakamura (TO GOTHICS) and MaRIA on decks and tokyoDOLORES pole-dancing as green fairies? MAYJAH.
* INNOCENCE w/ Kaito @ Module / B2 34-6 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku (JR Lines etc to Shibuya Station), 10p/2500 yen. Hiroshi Watanabe, aka Kaito, the sole Japanese artist (I think?) on seminal German experimental techno label Kompact, unleashes very deep, very sexy tech-house for the costumed masses (yes, it's an early Halloween party!). Plus a special pole-dance between Ruka and Itsuka.
* Peter Brotzmann Festival 2011: Keiji Haino + Yoshihide Otomo etc @ Pit Inn / B1 2-12-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (JR etc to Shinjuku Station, East Exit), 7:30p/5000 yen. I'm getting a "The Stone" vibe for Shinjuku avant-jazz joint Pit Inn, as in John Zorn's NYC Ave C hub for nightly creative impresarios. In this celebration of European free-jazz master Brotzmann's 70th anniversary, he gathered a bunch of beloved friends to join the party. Namely tonight: sonic pioneers Yoshihide Otomo and Keiji Haino!
* "Into a Dream" (dir. Sion Sono, 2005) screening @ Museum of Arts & Design / 2 Columbus Circle (AC/BD to 59th St/Columbus Circle), 3p. While Sono was creating his family-drama opus "Noriko's Dinner Table" as accompaniment and sequel to his celebrated and notorious "Suicide Club", he released this psychedelic little film. Only Sono's dreamworld isn't so pleasant: esp. if you're a guy suffering an STD and losing his grip on reality, though the whole journey to self-discovery is fine Sono-style filmmaking.
* Mary Halvorson + Jessica Pavone @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 8p/$10. The clandestine pairings of Brooklyn-based string impresarios Halvorson (guitar) and Pavone (viola) equal next-level folk and lots of magic. This is the LP release party for their new duet "Departure of Reason".
* Personal Heat @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 10p/$10. Experimental violist Jessica Pavone follows her duet w/ Mary Halvorson w/ a walk on the tripped-out side as Personal Heat, pairing processed vocals and her viola w/ Amnon Freidlin's guitar-playing and electronics.
* "The Shining" (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1980) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 11:30p. When I learned via Badass Digest that Kubrick had purposefully made the Overlook Hotel — still the creepiest residential setting among modern horror films — spatially impossible and phantasmagorically mazelike, it tuned my own emotional response to an already loved film even higher. Enjoy the illusionary awesomeness on the big screen, with manic Jack Nicholson, precocious Danny Lloyd, awesome Scatman Crothers and (frankly) spectrelike Shelley Duvall in the ideal pre-Halloween thriller.
* 「一命」/"Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai" (dir. Takashi Milke, 2011) in wide release. A contemporary 3D imagining of Masaki Kobayashi's period classic via Japan's perhaps most prolific and controversial modern director could signal a film high on shock-value and blood-spray… Only, this is Miike at his most subtle and metaphysical, harbingered by his solid triumph "13 Assassins". Its competition premiere at 2011 Cannes (the first 3D film to do so) is but the iceberg's tip for Miike's mature directorial achievement.
* "Karate-Robo Zaborgar" (dir. Noboru Iguchi, 2011) @ Shinjuku Wald9 / 3-1-26 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (JR line etc to Shinjuku Station, South Exit). Zaborgar! Go! Iguchi circumvents expectations of usual sexual deviance and gore in his revamp of the '70s children's TV classic, of super-sleuth Daimon and his buddy Zaborgar, the karate-fighting cyborg who changes into a motorcycle! Easily Sushi Typhoon's most "family friendly" offering yet, it's a thrill to watch.
* "Captain America: The First Avenger" (dir. Joe Johnston, 2011) @ Marunouchi Louvre / 2-5-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku (JR Yurakucho or Tokyo Metro Ginza Line to Yurakucho Station). I had low expectations for "Captain America", but my relocation to Austin did wonders for my filmic fanboy-ism. In effect: as the summer proceeded, I became more and more stoked for skinny-ass (computer-manipulated) Chris Evans' morphing into rippling (normal) Chris Evans, kicking Nazi ass and squaring off against Hugo Weaving/Red Skull, 'til late July when I was cheering front and center for one of my favorite Marvel-derived action films in recent memory. Yes, it's that good.
* Azarashi + Akiko Hodaka @ Shinjuku Motion / 5F 2-45-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku (JR etc to Shinjuku Station, East Exit), 5:30p/1800 yen. "Mourning noise can be heard: 2nd Night"? Feat. visual-kei screamers Azarashi, Akiko Hodaka's piano serenade, drummer Koji Ishikawa and more.
* Guitar Wolf + TsushiMaMire @ Unit / 1-34-17 Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku (Tokyu-Toyoko Line to Daikanyama Station, JR Yamanote/Hibiya Line to Ebisu Station), 5:30p/2500 yen. Classic Nagasaki dude punks plus noisy Tokyo riot-grrrls? Count me in! w/ Dr. Downer
* Tokyo Dark Castle Halloween Special @ Marz / B1F 2-45-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku (JR etc to Shinjuku Station, East Exit), midnight/3500 yen. After you've had your fill of spooky sonics (see: Azarashi etc at Motion, above), head like literally next door for Marz's midnight Halloween bash, feat. bands Royal Cabaret, DESTRUCT SYSTEM and highfashionparalyze (awesome, non?), DJs and fashion presentations by RITUALS and PureOne Corset Works (if you've seen pole-dance troupe Tokyo Dolores, you know what I mean).
* Dances of Vice: Tokyo Blade Runner @ (le) poisson rouge / 158 Bleecker St (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St, 6 to Bleecker St), 9p/$20. A dance-party tribute to retro-futuristic Tokyo a la "Blade Runner" just sounds dope. Feat. Xris SMack (founder of STIMULATE monthly cyberpunk/S&M parties) on decks, a live set from NY electro-rock trio Eva and Her Virgins, and Renee Masoomian's latex fashion show.
* DODDODO @ Fever / 1-1-14 Hanegi, Setagaya-ku (Odakyu Inokashira Line to Shindaita or Shimokitazawa Stations), 6p/3800 yen. Glitch-happy DODDODO (né Namin Haku, of Osaka) has more creative explosively in her left pinkie than most experimental electronic artists have in their entire gear setups. Check her perched over her sampler and Casio, rapping off-the-cuff whilst launching into noisy bursts in a Whitehouse waltz. w/ more Osaka awesomeness, like the jazz-rock fusion duo Ego-Wrappin', electronic duo AUTORA (incl. Akio Yamamoto, aka TANZMUZIK) and more!
* Psysalia Psysalis Psyche + TADZIO @ Womb / 2-16 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit), 3p/3000 yen. The release party for expansive jangle-rock quintet Psysalia Psysalis Psyche's 「不良のモーニングコーヒー」(uh, "juvenile delinquent's morning coffee"?), a thoroughly engrossing all-day affair. I encourage you to check their Love Hotel-styled website (http://psysaliapsysalispsyche.com/), as each "room" leads to a themed earlier EP, like the manga-porn one or the Rammstein-ish mouth-gag one, or the hand-drawn lemon interior one… They're joined by my favorite Sendai noise-rock grrrls TADZIO, plus Osaka's mu-neujohn, Nagoya's 63y3s, and a bunch of DJs (incl. Acid psycho killer from Psysalia… and Twee Grrrrls Club!).
* Case of Telegraph 2011 showcase @ High / 4-30-1 Koenji-minami, Suginami-ku (JR Yamanote Line to Koenji Station), 5:30p/3500 yen. This is MAJOR!!! I stumbled across this vaguely named Japanese band called GREEN FLAMES, but when I checked the trio's members I flipped my lid. Oh it's "only" Munehiro Narita and Yuro Ujiie (guitarist and former drummer, respectively, for High Rise!!!) and Mitsuru Tabata (bassist for Zeni Geva and Acid Mothers Temple, and its many iterations). Add to that WECH-UNIT, comprised of '80s post-punks Sadie Sads, Nubile and Sarasvati, and prepare for decidedly non-mainstream rock awesomeness.
* Art in Practice: Sterling Allen @ Visual Arts Center / UT Art Building, 23rd St at Trinity, 6:30p. Allen, founder and co-director of Okay Mountain — and an awesome dude, let me tell you — presents his work in conjunction w/ the course "Performing Critique" (Risa Puleo, Asst. Curator of Contemporary Art at the Blanton), then leads a Q&A.
* "Two plus One/No Limit" @ Span Art Gallery / 2-2-18 1F Ginza, Chuo-ku. (Yurakucho Line to Ginza-Itchome Station). The gallery pairs Shinji Arai's photography w/ paintings by Kae Ando and Seiji Nakamura.
* CMJ: Afro-punk presents "DEATH to HIPHOP" Showcase @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$12. The yearly Afro-punk festival (and many other dope outdoor festivals of its ilk) was rained out. In its wake, and in a creative reconfiguring from the original lineup, is a ferocious roster headlined by seminal all-Black Detroit punks DEATH!!! w/ Cerebral Ballzy and Ninjasonik
* CMJ: Deli Magazine showcase @ The Delancey / 168 Delancey St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 7p/FREE! Confession: I've only been to burlesque shows at The Delancey. But they're hosting a pretty dope (and free) psych-pop CMJ show tonight, w/ Brooklyn's tropic-psych-pop quartet Caged Animals, the groovily retro-tinged Computer Magic, Psychobuildings, Tiny Victories and more.
* "Anguish" (dir. Bibas Luna, 1987) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 10p. The less we know about this hypnotically gruesome, possibly headache-inducing Spanish produced horror film, the better! Consider the facts: Zelda Rubinstein (the eccentric, unforgettable medium in "Poltergeist") is the psychotic AND psionic lead, in this ultra-meta bending of multiple realities. I am scared and excited, simultaneously!
* "The Music Lovers" (dir. Ken Russell, 1970) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse S. Lamar / 1120 S. Lamar, 7p. Perhaps less infamous than Russell's psychedelic rock-opera "Lisztomania" (starring Roger Daltrey of The Who as Liszt and Ringo Starr as the Pope!) yet no less dramatic, is this idiosyncratic imagining of Tchaikovsky's life and career, blanketed by fantasy sequences set to the great Russian composer's own music! Co-presented by the Austin Film Society.
* "The Red Black and Blonde" (dir. Dan Jimenez, 2011) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse S. Lamar / 1120 S. Lamar, 7:30p. The Austin premiere of this Austin-shot film, of four fierce Texas women on the lam! With props to "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Good The Bad and the Ugly", but more attractive and less nonsense.
* PLASTIC GIRL IN CLOSET + Shojo Skip @ Club Que / B2F 2-5-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku (Inokashira Line to Shimokitazawa Station), 6:30p/2500 yen. Some of Tokyo's best shoegazers from the indie scene play tonight, incl. personal faves PLASTIC GIRL IN CLOSET (despite the name, they're dope! Check LP "Cocoro") and the entrancing coeds Shojo Skip! w/ DEEP BLUE
* Margaret Meehan "Hystrionics and The Forgotten Arm" @ Women & Their Work / 1710 Lavaca St. The Austin-based artist moves deftly between photography, sculpture, mixed-media drawing and installation (hell, even SOUND installation) — much like a boxer in the ring, which is just one of the themes of her stunning solo exhibition at the gallery. Another is the "other", blending the Circassian lass with the albino oddity and the hypertrichotic, bloodied and bruised in her whiter-than-white apparel as she feints, dodges and connects with the viewer. Some of this reminded me (on surface level) w/ Ellen Gallagher's maskings and media treatments of women, but the crushed glass glitter (from small-scale prints like "The Haymaker (Glitter)" to the five-row vintage cabinet cards of "The Barnburners"), at times like Glenn Ligon's use of coal-dust, feels very much Meehan's own. That aforementioned sound installation is "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (Nina Simone)", a dreamy collab w/ Austin black metal duo Odessa (aka Mark Garcia and Landon O'Brien) that sneaks up on you as it cycles like every 10 minutes, filling the gallery with walls of guitars and a shouting voice (Meehan's?). It pairs well w/ the installation across from the speakers, "Glass Jaw", a punching bag enclosed within shimmering black glitter.
* El Anatsui "When I Last Wrote to You about Africa" @ Blanton Museum of Art / UT Austin campus, MLK at Congress. Anatsui is the first exhibition I attended at Blanton (hell, I'd been away from Austin for seven years — this place didn't even exist last time I was in town). To say I'd been looking forward to the Ghanaian-born artist's retrospective would be a grave understatement. His solo shows and group exhibitions in NYC (at Jack Shainman, plus his inclusion in international art fairs) tended to be show-stoppers, wowing everyone and usurping attention from any other artwork in the room. I mean…those intricate, shimmering tarps of thousands of discarded Nigerian liquor bottle tops… I dug Anatsui's retrospective on many levels, aesthetic being one of them, but to see his early relief carvings, drawings and paintings alongside his famed wall sculptures was a treat. Expansive floor sculptures like "Peak Project" (1999), a field of undulating Peak Milk lids, and "Akua's Surviving Children" (1996), an array of roughly hewn wood figures with ritually scorched "heads" that emulate Africans in the Danish slave trade and first shown in Copenhagen's African international exhibition in '96 — they're dope and they work well in concert w/ Anatsui's more fixated luminous wall sculptures, like the massive "Stressed World" (2011, bearing a large central "netted" section alongside panes of green, red, yellow and black) and the gold "Oasis" (2008). Earlier instances of this patterning are evident in carved and painted wood reliefs like "Coins on Grandma's Cloth" (1992, punctuated with painted striped diagonals); the almost Cubist "Club Windows" (2002); and the show's titular work "When I Last Wrote to You about Africa…" (1986), a scroll-like wood relief with ideogram 'Adinkras' carved into it. The exhibition itself is the largest number of Anatsui works ever assembled in the U.S.
* "Pattern Plan" @ Grayduck Gallery / 608 W Monroe Dr. Our relationship with nature is the focus here, varyingly teased out with crafty mock-ups of molecules and what looked to me like Claes Oldenburg-sized Froot Loops (Dameon Lester, moulding these toruses from the Austin-American Statesman and neon-colored paper); renditions of undersea life and slime molds painted on cut and shaped canvas (L. Renee Nunez); and these awesomely intricate, subtle circles and crescents comprised of acrylic mixed with powdered mica, then layered like minuscule bubbles one by one onto the paper (Jessica McCambly). In particular, McCambly's rigorous process and sublime results clinches the exhibition's fusion — but you've got to spend some time with these delicate works and let them soak in. Likewise, there was an intriguing article in the NYTimes on Oct 3 entitled "Can Answers to Evolution Be Found in Slime?", i.e. slime molds, calling them "ancient, alien and sophisticated", and it's of note that Nunez singles them out as subject matter.
* Mika Tajima "The Architect's Garden" @ Visual Arts Center / UT Art Building, 23rd St at Trinity. Tajima's the artist-in-residence this fall, and she adapts her modular chromatic chaos to fill and cover the VAC's Vaulted Gallery. She pairs a grid of candy-colored spray-painted acrylic frames, her "Furniture Art" (after Erik Satie's "Musique d'ameublement"), on one gallery wall, flat-boards "The Roundabout" covered in paint and tacked-on adverts, and wheeled scaffolds lined w/ geometric silkscreens and huge letters, "Detour (1-7)" and "Untitled (Go)". You can imagine the installation reconfiguring itself, by Tajima's instruction, throughout its three-month span.
+ Jamie Isenstein " ". I really dug this three-part solo exhibition from Isenstein, and I urge you to take the whole thing w/ tongue held firmly in cheek, or you might not get what she's doing. For one, the ubiquitous sign-in book is part of the show, called "Book of the Dead" in case you signed it w/o checking the cover first. Don't worry. Her "installation Shots (axe, harp, log)" is pretty funny, too: three projectors on pedestals throwing images of what "should be" on those pedestals (i.e. the axe, harp and log)…considering the typical gallery-goer (and even the gullible critic!) to believe whatever's up on the pedestal is meant to be "the artwork". The best, IMO, is her dig at abstract sculpture, her "Dancing Pop-up Fishing Sculpture", a big glob of mixed fabrics and colors w/ the laughably obtuse media listing as "fabric, newspaper, glue, paint, "Worm in a Can" gag dinner mints, human leg, fishnet tights, tap shoe, or velvet curtain, human arm or velvet curtain, "Wishing I Was Fishing" or "Gone Fishing" life preservers, and pedestal" — most of which, if it even exists, is necessarily hidden inside the misshapen form.
* Katie Armstrong "Once More Once More" @ BravinLee Programs / 526 W 26th St #211. Check out Armstrong's Vimeo clip on the gallery website, hinting at her animated drawings (with vocals! pretty decent folk-ish vocals, sung by the artist) steeped in big-city culture. She's young — a recent BFA from SVA last year — but her knack for eliciting emotion via whimsical, handmade vignettes is totally undeniable.
* Vik Muniz @ Sikkema, Jenkins & Co / 530 W 22nd St. Muniz's latest exhibition is definitely high up on my must-see list this fall. If you caught his recent Academy Award-nominated documentary "Waste Land", you should be familiar w/ Muniz's famous "Pictures of Garbage" series: forming massive riffs on classical art via carefully ordered rubbish in the world's largest dump, outside Rio de Janeiro. His large-scale color photography in this show eschews rust and rubbish for gaudy colors, as he uses images and text torn from magazines to craft detailed duplicates of iconic artworks.
* Kristopher Bendict "Remake" @ Sue Scott Gallery / 1 Rivington St. Revisions of images that are revisions of something else, like a scene from "Vanilla Sky" (formerly "Abre los Ojos"), reinterpreted as an Impressionist painting; Nicholas Cage's foreclosed Hollywood mansion enlarged from a small Google image, etc. In Benedict's unique vocabulary, we are forced to re-look (and re-re-look) at what we've already seen.
* Greg Drasler @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. In Drasler's 2008 show, he represented automobiles and empty interiors w/ a polished 1940's nostalgia. He revisits some of that, plus ski lifts, trailers and tents, devoid of human contact and overlaid by patterns and shadows. They're still as gorgeous as ever.
* Vincent Desiderio @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. My first up-close encounter w/ Desiderio's grand-sized "new history" style paintings came in late 2008 and left me fumbling for vocabulary. His latest explores the emotional impact of paint and scale, echoing José Clement Orozco in one and an overall period-unspecific virtuosity and menace throughout.
* Sterling Ruby + Lucio Fontana @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. Another provoking pairing by the gallery: Fontana, the Italian-Argentinian founder of Spatialism and member of Arte Povera — i.e. the guy who slashed monochrome canvases w/ a blade — and Ruby, some 80 years his junior, as renowned for his gigantic installations as his penchant for urethane, spraypaint and heavy metal. Yet in the intersection of this Venn Diagram is biomorphic glazed ceramics, one of perhaps many surprising commonalities b/w these two outlying artists.
* Ad Reinhardt "Works from 1935-1945" @ The Pace Gallery / 32 E 57th St. The gallery focuses on the iconic abstract artist's early works, including some 50 geometric paintings and works on paper that bear Cubism's influence through American eyes. Reinhardt's own reductionism — specifically his famed "black" paintings of the '60s — would follow this important period.
* Eko Nugroho "Snobs Behind Ketchup" @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 518 W 19th St. The Indonesian artist's debut solo exhibition in the city, encompassing his large-scale mixed-media portraits and sculpture, revealing his metamorphosed cultural figures. His gorgeous, vibrantly colorful embroidered "paintings" from last summer's "Heat Wave" group show is all the convincing I need that this exhibition is a must-see.
* Shai Kremer "Fallen Empires" @ Julie Saul Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. Kremer's second solo at the gallery expands on his focus into Israel's political landscape, traveling back to antiquity and the crusades via vivid C-prints, then snapping up back to Palestinian conflicts and contemporary issues.
* Andy Denzler "Dissonance and Contemplation" @ Claire Oliver / 513 W 26th St. Denzler's wet-on-wet painterly technique mixes abstraction and photorealism in his figures set against landscapes — the end effect is a bit like a faulty TV set.
* Jim Torok "Walton" @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces St. Torok's super small-scale portraits of upstate NY residents exist as fixed moments in time — yet their incredible photorealism (though still painterly finesse, belying their intimate scales) reminds us of the time Torok spent w/ his neighbors and his laborious effort in painting them. Their figures' respective histories, and Torok's delicate layers of paint and gloss, are as durational as a point in time as Colby Bird's changing works (still on view in the main gallery) will become.
* Ayako Okuda @ Gallery MOMO / 2F 6-2-6 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Toei Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). Over a dozen of Okuda's large, sparsely populated landscape paintings, which she previously exhibited in Osaka.
* Hideki Koh "A Boy's Portrait" @ Span Art Gallery / 2-2-18 1F Ginza, Chuo-ku. (Yurakucho Line to Ginza-Itchome Station). Koh has been a celebrated Japanese illustrator for decades, but it was only around '98 that he developed perhaps his signature style, delicate drawings and paintings of kimono-clad young men, solo and coupling. (ENDS SAT)
* Carrie Moyer "Canonical" @ Canada / 55 Chrystie St. Moyer pushes her painterly technique w/ masking and transparency, bolder lifework beyond her work drawings, and a freedom of color. As Wallace Whitney writes, Moyer's paintings "lightly walk a line between Saturday morning cartoons and the fourth floor of MoMA." There you go.
* Tamaki Shindo 「蒔いた種を探す」@ hpgrp Tokyo / B1F 5-1-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku (Chiyoda/Hanzomon/Ginza Lines to Omotesando Station). Shindo blurs painting and photography by cutting up prints of flowers, painting over them, then making multiple color copies and continuing her manipulation. (ENDS SUN)