This week I skipped the Chelsea gallery scene (the show I wanted to see was unexpectedly on hiatus when I got there) and found myself on a road less traveled for me and I am sure other art-goers as well. The destination was the Henry Street Settlement Abrons Art Center on Grand Street between Pitt and Columbia Streets. As I walked the several blocks from the F train Delancey stop (several more than I expected), it seemed that the dust of the previous tenement neighborhood still settled on these streets. Not only did it remind me that, as much as New York reinvents itself, the past is never far behind, but it was also a refreshing art viewing experience that I probably would not have found in the white boxes of Chelsea.
Out of the 55 artists represented at the 2010 Whitney Biennial, 26 were women. While that’s still less than half, it’s certainly better than the days when only one or two members of the “fairer” sex fought to be included. Lynn Hershman Leeson’s new documentary !Women Art Revolution, now playing at IFC Center, compiles interviews spanning 40 years that document the tumultuous battle women artists fought for proper representation in the world of galleries and museums.
Jennifer Bartlett’s latest exhibition Recitative at Pace Gallery shows the artist continually breaking down and rebuilding the base particles of art. In the enormous, open gallery installation, enamel-coated steel tiles spaced in rising and falling grids line the exterior walls. Each square holds its own combination of disparate elements of art, remixing line, shape, color and texture into an infinity of combinations. This central installation, “Recitative” (2009-10), is Bartlett’s longest painting composition ever at 158 feet. What at first appears to be a gallery-size abstraction coalesces into a didactic walk-through of art at the atomic level and a joyful celebration of what it means to make a purposeful artistic mark.
The Guerilla Girls caused a big stir in the late 1980s and 90s but now a founding member of the once revolutionary group talks about the Georgia O’Keeffe show, which makes me wonder, “Are they still relevant?”