“Does anyone still wear a hat?” This lyric from Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece musical Company, as crooned out by Elaine Stritch, rung in my head as I found out that master milliner Stephen Jones’s show Hats: An Anthology would travel across the pond from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London to the Bard Graduate Center in New York City this Fall. Though English aristocracy continues to include interesting headwear in their luxe lexicon (remember the Royal Wedding?), are hats still so much a sartorial staple in the United States that they warrant an exhibition?
Without knowing it, I stumbled onto David Byrne’s installation Tight Spot at the Pace Gallery two weeks ago while wandering through the many Chelsea gallery openings at the start of the September gallery shows.
Just before 24th Street slopes onto Third Avenue with its rumbling noise of the Gowanus Expressway is a something unexpected for this part of South Brooklyn: a white walls, contemporary art gallery. 210 Gallery is quietly nestled between the green spires Our Lady of Czenstochowa church and the Gowanus inlet industry that rises its smoke stacks before an almost clear view of the Statue of Liberty. Despite the gallery being just around the corner from my apartment, I’d never stepped inside, always being drawn away by the comforting siren song of my coffee machine and potential rest after finally making it home after working all day in Manhattan. But I’d glimpsed its small, yet intriguing, shows through the large windows, and finally paid the gallery a visit last Sunday.
Imagine strolling through clean, bright halls, surrounded by immaculate display cases filled with baubles and trinkets, the steam-polished precious metals and gems coruscating in the glare of spotlights. Hear your feet clacking on the white floors, stopping to look closer at the jewelry on display, but not close enough to stir the ire of the security guard peering over your shoulder. Imagine wanting everything you see, from diamond diadems to neon-tubed necklaces. No, you’re not in Tiffany’s or Cartier, you’re in the Museum of Arts and Design, gazing at their new show, Picasso to Koons: The Artist as Jeweler.
PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND — Ever since Pollock splattered his ego onto a canvas in the 1950s, a decided geographical shift across the Atlantic occurred — Europe lost its ruling power as center of the art world and New York stepped into it shoes as the new authoritative hub of contemporary art. Yet, the new exhibition at The Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, Made in the UK: Contemporary Art from the Richard Brown Baker Collection reminds that there was some pretty fantastic art being made just on the other side of the Atlantic. The exhibition displays work by British artist from the past 60 years, including exemplary works of Britain’s contributions to decidedly international art movements like Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Op Art.
Robert Melee is known for his sculpture and multimedia installations that, with heavy doses of nostalgia and grit, poke and prod our human experiences. His latest show, Triscuit Obfuscation, is currently on view at Andrew Krepps Gallery in Chelsea. His sculptures are kind of ramshackle and oozy in a way that harkens back to the Ab-Exers, Dada and all that jazz.
Approaching Fulton Landing from the East River Jean Nouvel’s new pavilion for Jane’s Carousel is less impressive than I was expecting. The squat box made of what I initially thought was transparent glass and sea-foam green metal appears dwarfed by the massive Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges that bracket it on either side. My initial reactions from a distance were mostly negative. The thick roof seemed heavy and cumbersome. The pavilion, particularly when the retractable doors are closed, feels unfinished. I don’t know why I expected this glass pavilion to be as sleek and transparent as the Fifth Avenue Apple Store, but I did. Even Philip Johnson’s Glass House visually seemed more weightless than this. Approaching the pavilion from land was different.
LOS ANGELES – The inside of Honor Fraser, the Los Angeles gallery now showing artist and designer KAWS’s new solo exhibition Hold the Line, must feel far away from the New York City bus stops and phone booths of the late 1990s.
On Friday and Saturday night I traveling to the Occupy Wall Street action in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to document the signs created by the protesters and their supporters. I was impressed that this small island of protest had quickly created a library and an art station for protesters to share their thoughts with the media and the world.
Winkleman gallery’s newest exhibition Cool Guys Like You by Jennifer Dalton is a must see. You should go and get a 25 cent temporary tattoo, and check out her disarming info graphics about media talk show media coverage.What really excited me though wasn’t the headliner, but the playful, color blasted back room of the gallery.
Editor’s Note: Peter Dobey published a series of photo essays (1, 2, 3) about this year’s Venice Biennale at the beginning of June. This is a long-form essay (to be published in three parts) that explores the work at the Biennale.
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PARIS — It is difficult to write about Venice, just like it is difficult to really SEE Venice. Individual experiences of art fade away into the oversaturation that is the Venice Biennale in the same way the city of Venice is sinking into the Adriatic. There is the ontological experience of Venice and the problem of one’s ability to encounter it. Then there is the physical impossibility to see everything the Biennale offers you and all the things it doesn’t, especially when in Italy.
ISTANBUL — Istanbul has launched a full frontal assault to claim its place amongst rising art centers by hosting the complex and provocative Istanbul Biennial, as well as a massive all-inclusive history of the city’s female artists, Dream and Reality – Modern and Contemporary Women Artists from Turkey at the Istanbul Modern right next door. The timing and juxtaposition of these two shows is not haphazard and should be viewed as twin prongs of an interior exploration and bold emergence.