Never have I been so happy to see a portrait of Betty White. After three trains and two shuttles, and a few failed attempts to get a taxi, I was finally in Bushwick for the 2011 Open Studios.
Perhaps going directly from the Armory to Scope was a mistake. At a significantly smaller scale, lower budgets, and complete with an indoor smoking room and a cash bar manned by none other than Bushwick artisanal pizza powerhouse Roberta’s, Scope Art Fair New York was very much like a Bushwick opening after a day at MoMA. The editorial lens of the significantly more exclusive (and expensive) art fairs do, in fact, produce better art viewing experiences.
Jim Herbert’s paintings of naked lovers are not for the feint of heart. At first glance, viewers might want to look away as though catching a glimpse of a couple kissing. And some people will totally avert their eyes from these intense canvases. At the opening for the recent show at the English Kills Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a young couple strolled in, saw one work, and then bolted out the door.
They left because these works are not simply nudes. With today’s porn-soaked internet and sexually liberated gaze, nudity’s shock value is dismally low. Something else plays out in Herbert’s huge canvases. By depicting the tenderness between lovers, these images portray intimacy — the same emotional concept that pays therapists’ mortgages.