TOM FRIEDMAN AT LUHRING AUGUSTINE
Who doesn’t love a Tom Friedman sculpture? Wit, chops and cheek are everywhere in the current exhibition of new works by the artist. Witness a pile of painted Styrofoam apples sculpted to look as if they’ve been bitten, perhaps in search of something hidden inside or the test models from a witch creating a poison. A life-sized, stainless steel man urinates a silver stream and a ball of yellow wooden dowels sits on the gallery floor as if it just arrived from another artistic planet. I was struck by the twisted perfection of a vaguely obsolete model video camera made entirely of painted wood—its straps, knobs and handles crafted to pointless perfection.
Through March 17th
ALEC SOTH AT SEAN KELLY GALLERY
Photographer Alec Soth became fascinated with several disillusioned, paranoid American men who live off the grid. The artist managed to gain the trust of these anti-society types and photographed their habitats and disguises. The artist has written a “Broken Manual” to accompany the exhibition that gives helpful tips on how to become a contemporary escapee. Soth’s hermits, hippies, monks and survivalists with make you see things just a bit differently.
Through March 11
DANA SHUTZ AT THE METROPOLITAIN OPERA
One wouldn’t think of Shutz first as the painter to depict a Wagner opera on paper. This is arguably why the show works so well. One of the best exhibitions of the artist’s work since she defected to Friedrich Petzel from Zach Feuer, her Götterdämmerung drawings are wonderfully chaotic and playfully violent. Shutz chose to present watercolor monotypes made with colored pencil and crayon, and in addition to lobby gallery, several works are hung on the orchestral level. Whatever the muttered criticism from stodgy operagoers, Wagner’s masterpiece can stand up to any interpretation, and Shutz delivers her memorable take on the action.
Through May 12th
IAN TWEEDY AT UNTITLED
The first solo exhibition in the U.S. for the artist. Tweedy alters found canvases and books with oil and other media for his quietly provocative works. Life retains a noir quality in Tweedy’s hands, and the faces of figures depicted are often shielded or otherwise obscured. Each of the dark and lovely small wallworks is a memorable microcosm of cryptic and–dare I say?–emotional moment.
Through February 26th
JON KESSLER AT SALON 94 BOWERY
For his exhibition entitled “The Blue Period,” educator, musician, artist and all around nice guy Kessler has created a messy and memorable environment. It features kinetic machines, surveillance cameras, video monitors and life-size cardboard cutout figures. The gallery calls it “the culmination of Kessler’s longtime interest in surveillance, attention and spectacle.” A visit to the installation provides disorienting, thought-provoking fun.
Through March 10th
LOOKING BACK/THE 6TH WHITE COLUMNS ANNUAL
This installation was selected by artists Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss, based on their personal experience of looking at art in New York in the previous year. Works by their contemporaries as well as elders such as Sherrie Levine, Joan Mitchell and Adrian Piper are included in an installation that is crowded and quirkily installed, but rich with discovery. Video, sculpture, painting and a slideshow share the gallery here, as the Annual aims to re-contextualize the artworks to establish “a new narrative.” A low-to-the-ground slideshow of Alvin Baltrop’s vintage gay New York plays as a recording of Louise Lawler’s “Birdcalls” by well-known artists can be heard on the hour. A small contemporary work by Fia Backström from her Post-Vulnerable Rhetorics series is pictured.
Through February 18th
KAY ROSEN AT SIKKEMA JENKINS
Despite decades of museum support and critical accolades, Rosen could still be considered as an underappreciated artist—at least in terms of the marketplace. Her singular, language-based word paintings have appeared on walls, billboards and the façade of the Whitney museum. For the current exhibition entitled “Wide and Deep” the artist presents gray lettered paintings made in enamel, two wall paintings, as well as several drawings. We’re told that Rosen applied three rules to this series of drawings: the word images must being and end with the same letter, creating a close-end, self-contained verbal unit; the letters are to be layered on top of each other; and the strategy (transparent, sandwiched, opaque) should correspond to some aspect of the text’s meaning. Works such as Cryptic Symbols and Stream of Consciousness can’t help but evoke Jasper Johns and also challenge our ability to “read” an artwork. Highly recommended
Through March 10th
OTHER BODIES AT ZIEHER SMITH
A stunning collection of 65 found “vernacular” photographs that provide a perverse view of amateur America. There’s a drunk, mustachioed man in a bunny costume from the 1970s, and along the line is a black and white image of a young boy crouched playfully with what has to be a real firearm. We see fashions change as the images span the century, and silliness like churchy baptisms and a woman posing in front of a wax figure of Adolf Hitler. Inevitable mistakes—blurred images, double exposures, awkward cropping—make the images all the more mysterious and artful. The only thing that is perfectly clear is that we’ll never know the (no doubt fascinating) backstories within these captured moments. Hurry, closes this week.
JASON FOX AT PETER BLUM
Fox has always created approachable images of Jesus-looking rockers and otherworldly creatures, often in red acrylic or ballpoint pen. For the current exhibition entitled “Eating Symbols,” Fox includes his unique figurations alongside pure abstract paintings. Paintings of contorted red dogs share the space with smaller works such as Green Party of Estonia (2011), a color field study that might be an upside-down, tongue-in-cheek flag design. Fox is a painter’s painter.
Through February 25th
BLIND CUT AT MARLBOROUGH CHELSEA
This sweeping, whip smart exhibition was curated by gallery artist Jonah Freeman and Vera Neykov. An overarching theme of fiction and deception is the starting point here, and the curators take us to brilliant places with the inclusion of works by Mike Kelley, Daniel Lefcourt, Robert Lazzarini Pierre Huyghe, Claire Fontaine, Darren Bader, Ed Ruscha, Eileen Quinlan, Kurt Schwitters and Adam McEwen, as well as about two dozen others. As the practitioners of Dada trafficked in imagined personas, inaccurate histories and invented languages, “Blind Cut” addresses the notion of falsehood for art’s sake with McEwen’s premature obituaries, for example, and a focus on the “fictional” career of Marcel Broodthaers. The handsome catalog accompanying the show features an interview with non-existent wunderkind writer J.T. Leroy. Arguably the most rewarding show currently on view in New York.
Through February 18th