Visiting the exhibition of Stephen Greene’s paintings from the 1960s at the Jason McCoy Gallery is like hearing a squat black dial telephone ring next to an ashtray holding a freshly lit cigarette, the smoke curling up into a shaft of sunlight.
The two rooms of Jason McCoy Gallery currently feature works spanning a wide variety of styles and mediums — from functional design objects, such as wallpaper and stools, to charcoal drawings and fine art textiles — for the group show Domesticity.
I met Glenn Goldberg in 2005 when I was curating an exhibition about the history of the New York Studio School. Goldberg’s tools-in-trade are elemental: dots, patterns, and symbolic, iconic representations of birds, trees, flowers. They couldn’t be more different from the traditions of the Studio School and Queens College, where he studied in the late 1970s, and where the predominant way of working involved a heroic wrestling with form. Also, the athletic and Bronx-raised Goldberg doesn’t necessarily look or sound like someone we expect to be making the paintings he does.
The large paintings in Glenn Goldberg’s recent exhibition are part of a series collectively titled Elixir. They are half as tall as they are wide. “Eighth Elixir” (2011) is less than four feet tall and over seven feet wide, but most are slightly less than three feet high and five feet wide. Done in acrylic and ink on pale gray, gessoed grounds, the paintings have an undulating visual hum to them — think Philip Glass and Terry Riley —which is both soothing and disconcerting. This is because Goldberg effectively meshes two palettes on a gray ground — one is black and white, while the other consists of muted, often transparent colors ranging from near primaries to turquoise and violet.
Abstraction is a fickle shapeshifter. Outlines of horses and bulls in caves and geometric markings on ceramic flatware were the earliest embodiment of the craft. Since then, abstraction has travelled through an unbelievable number of incarnations. James McCoy Gallery recently took on the challenge of presenting a hiccup’s worth of abstraction from the 20th Century, anticlimactically titled 70 Years of Abstract Painting: Excerpts. The showing was based on the gallery’s strong holding of abstract art, looking to “initiate an unusual dialogue” between past and present.