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Exhibits By Julie Blackmon and Ellen von Unwerth at Fotografiska

30 Years of Photographing Women Ellen von Unwerth By Gail Worley
Image from Ellen von Unwerth’s Devotion! 30 Years of Photographing Women (All Photos By Gail)

If you live in the tri-state area and are on Instagram or FaceBook for even a few minutes a day, there is very little chance that you have not at least heard the name Fotografiska. Viral marketing ads for the NYC branch of this museum dedicated to modern photography were plastered all over social media for months prior to its opening to the public on December 14th, 2019. The cryptic ads featured dark, purple-shadowed images of the seven-story Gothic structure (built in 1892) housing the museum, which made it seem very mysterious and alluring. Everyone wanted to know: What the Hell is Fotografiska? Some people still can’t figure it out.

I finally had a chance to visit Fotografiska on March 5th, when I was invited to attend the opening reception for an exhibit by Julie Blackmon entitled Fever Dreams. One week after my visit, Fotografiska was forced to temporarily close its doors in compliance with New York State’s shelter-in-place order in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elevator Image Fotografiska By Gail Worley
Image By Ellen von Unwerth Inside an Elevator at Fotografiska

My original plan had been to post a review of the Julie Blackmon exhibit in mid-March, to coincided with the celebration of National Women’s Month. But like so many of us on the planet, my life is completely different now than it was three or four weeks ago, so that did not happen. An up-side of being stuck in the house without the ability to visit an art gallery, or museum or cultural institution of any kind is that I get to bring you my take on Art in the Time of Covid right here on The Gig. Even though you cannot currently visit these exhibits in person, you can ‘Live Through Me’ and enjoy the photos vicariously. I hope this post will give you a sweet taste of what’s inside Fotografiska that will get you excited to check out the place once it reopens. Better late than never.

Julie Blackmon Fever Dreams Photo By Gail Worley

This was my first ‘exposure,’ so to speak, to Julie Blackmon’s work, but I immediately fell in love with her hyper-realist style. Fever Dreams is a collection of images that brim with fantasy and subtle satire, capturing a delicate balance between the darkness and charm of contemporary American life. It’s not unusual for a gallery to stage an exhibit in dim lighting, but this one is designed to be viewed almost completely in the dark, save for a bit of light bleeding in from an adjacent gallery, and dedicated spotlights focused on each work. While the lack of lighting presented a challenge in capturing decent images of the photos, it definitely set an important mood, which enhanced the viewing experience.

Dandelion Puff By Gail Worley

Adding to the surreal vibe of Fever Dreams was the wall-to-wall astroturf covering the gallery floors, which included this singular artificial Dandelion Puff. You will understand in a minute why it was helpful to feel like you were standing in someone’s backyard.

Backyard Trailer Photo By Gail Worley

The playfully artful and chaotic nature present in the photographs of Julie Blackmon (b. 1966)  are drawn from the everyday people and places that have shaped the artist’s life. These are the familiar and ordinary scenes of Blackmon’s daily routine in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri, which she describes as “the generic American town” in the middle of the United States.

Fever Dreams By Julie Blackmon Photograph By Gail Worley

Her scenes are often centered around children on their own in backyards, garages and neighborhoods where the absence of adults alludes to a looming potential for danger. Her photographs, otherwise innocuous domestic tableaux, are woven with fantasy and subtle satire that reflect a delicate balance between the darkness and charm of contemporary American life in suburbia.

Fever Dreams By Julie Blackmon Photo By Gail Worley

One my favorite photos in the collection is this scene of children watching a screening of The Sound Of Music in a backyard. To me, it has an almost post-apocalyptic feel. Blackmon carefully sets her scenes, and like film and theater directors, she is in pursuit of unscripted moments that provoke, disturb, and challenged the viewer. Some of the images reference paintings by Dutch Masters, French impressionist, and modernists such as Edward Hopper and Balthus, but they are updated with a satirical, penetrating eye and Blackmon’s belief that artful fiction can capture the truth more memorably than the truth itself.

Fever Dreams By Julie Blackmon Photo By Gail Worley

Speaking  of her work, Blackmon explains, “I suppose I could make a work where everything’s just perfect, where the sun is shining and mom is lying out in the grass and everything’s happening perfectly and the kids are happy . . . but that wouldn’t interest me — and it wouldn’t be truthful. My aim is to create a more nuanced, subtly humorous and satirical portrait of the way we live today.”

Fever Dreams By Julie Blackmon Photo By Gail Worley

Fever Dreams presents a selection of photographs from Blackmon’s Homegrown series as well as more recent works. It’s a fantastic exhibit and I hope its tenure at Fotografiska can be extended so that more people get to see it.

Story Continues, With More Photos, After the Jump! Continue reading

RIP NYC Gallerist Paul Kasmin

Claude LaLanne Apple Photo By Gail
Apple Sculpture By Claude LaLanne Photogpraphed at Paul Kasmin Gallery By Gail in January 2019

They say that celebrity deaths come in threes. This past week we said goodbye to playwright Terrence McNally, legendary Drummer Bill Rieflin and, on a local scale, NYC Gallerist and Photographer Paul Kasmin, whose renowned Chelsea galleries have provided Worleygig.com with amazing content for more than a decade. Having celebrated his 60th birthday in February, Kasmin was just one year older than me. Mark Ryden, Nir Hod, Will Ryman, Ian Davenport, Erik Parker, Ron Arad, Designer Mattia Bonetti, husband and wife artist team Les Lalannes, and Photographer David La Chapelle are just few of the eye-opening talents I was introduced to at various Kasmin Gallery shows. Geoffrey I had so many good times there.

Getty Sheep Station By Francois Lalanne 2013 Photo By Gail Worley
Getty Sheep Station By Francois Lalanne, September 2013

What follows is the gallery’s official statement on Paul’s passing:

It is with great sadness that we must give news of the loss of Paul Kasmin (19602020). Paul passed away early this morning, March 23, after a long period of illness.

Opening his first New York gallery in 1989, Paul devoted himself to a life celebrating art and artists. Those of us who have worked with Paul learned from his extraordinary eye for talent, his delight in the work of the artists he loved, and his rare sense of openness and generosity.

Paul took great pleasure in overseeing all aspects of the gallery until the very end, and it was his sincere wish, and in his plans, that his vision for Kasmin continue as ambitiously as ever.

In the last few years, Paul continued his lifelong passion for photography with renewed enthusiasm. Taking pictures of his family, friends, and the gallery artists and staff, he built a collective portrait of his artistic community. We invite you to view these works on our website, reflecting on the enormous contribution that Paul made to the arts during his lifetime.

Selections from Paul Kasmin’s photography portfolio can be viewed now via the Kasmin Gallery website at This Link. Thank you for all the great art, Paul, and Rest in Peace.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Bronzino (Angola di Cosimo di Mariano), Portrait of a Young Man

Portrait of a Young Man By Bronzino Photo By Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

The sitter of this arresting work, Portrait of a Young Man (1530s) remains unknown, but he was part of Bronzino’s close circle of literary friends in Florence, and probable holds a book of poetry. The artist was himself a poet, delighting as much in the beauty of language as he did in the witty and fanciful details of his paintings. Here, viewers would have appreciated the carved grotesque heads on the table and chair, and the almost hidden, mask-like face suggested in the folds of the youth’s breeches as comments unmasks and disguises. Bronzino has delineated a sophisticated visual identity for the sitter.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Discovering a Kenny Scharf Mural on the LES

Kenny Sharf Mural Photo By Gail Worley
Photos By Gail

Covid Life, it is now a thing. I’ve been working from home for two weeks already and I’ve fallen into a daily routine of taking a walk after lunch in the most isolated areas I can find, just to get exercise and prevent (delay) the onset of Cabin Fever. It cheered me immensely to discover this colorful mural by Kenny Sharf, populated with his trademark whimsical faces. Since I’ve been exploring new turf more than usual, I see his stuff all over doorways and gates. Who knows how long this has been here?

Kenny Sharf Mural Photo By Gail Worley

Spotted on Norfolk Street Between Rivington and Stanton on the LES.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Inseparable Friends By Morris Hirshfield

Inseparable Friends Photo By Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

Morris Hirshfield (18721946) began to paint at the age of 65, after retiring from a career making women’s coats, suits and slippers. The flattened, decorative forms of Inseparable Friends (1941) echo his garment-making work. Without distinguishing between the floor and the wall, Hirshfield creates a room  through thee planes of shapes and patterns: the women at their mirror, the tasseled curtain above them, and the plant and shoes at their feet. While Hirshfield’s compositions are simplified and stylized, he aimed for meticulous, realistic detail and believed that his figures represented the human body “better than the camera can do.”

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Rainbow Pride Mural By IRAK Crew

Earsnot of Irak Crew Pride Mural By Gail Worley
Photo By Gail

Graffiti artist Kunle F. Martin AKA  Earsnot, founder of the IRAK Crew, created this abstract rainbow mural in June of 2019 in celebration of NYC Pride Month. You can find near the corner of Suffolk and Delancey Streets in Manhattan. The mural was sponsored by the Lisa Project in partnership with The World Mural Project, which will be happening again this come June!

Speak No Evil See No Evil Hear No Evil Skulls Mural By Vampiro X

Speak No Evil See No Evil Hear No Evil Skulls By Gail Worley
All Photos By Gail

This striking mural, depicting three skulls that relay the immortal message of  “Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Hear No Evil,” is by Chicago-based street artist Vampiro X.

Skulls Mural Allen Street By Gail Worley

See it now on Allen Street just north of Stanton on the LES, where it’s part of The New Allen project. I believe it went up in February of 2020, so it should be up for a few months into the spring, at least.

Skulls Mural Allen Street By Gail Worley

Modern Art Monday Presents: Cyril Edward Power, Speed Trial

Speed Trial
Photo By Gail

This linoleum cut print, Speed Trial (1932), was inspired by Bluebird, a race car that reached a velocity of 246 miles per hour at Daytona Beach, Florida in 1932, breaking the land-speed record. Artist Cyril Edward Power (18721951) used rhythmic, repetitive curves to conjure the rushing motion of the aerodynamic vehicle. He printed the image using three layers of color: light blue, dark blue, and green. He stipulated that the dark blue should be printed “dark on bonnet, paling to tail” — a graded passage that emphasizes the engine, at the front of the car, as the source of its power.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Astronaut Paste Up By Poet

Astronaut By Poet Photo By Gail Worley
All Photos By Gail

If you travel all the way to the back end of Freeman Alley (right by the city’s most secret restaurant) you may still be able to find this Astronaut floating amid a constellation of stickers, stencils and paste ups, accompanied by the phrase “Fly me to the moon!” spray painted in vibrant pink. How delightful. The artist, Poet (#poetwastaken on Instagram) offers that, “the astronaut is both an ode to Ol’ Blue Eyes‘ lyric of love, yet a modern nod to the Coachella Moon Man.” “After all,” he concludes, ” love is out of this world!” Amen to that!

Astronaut By Poet Photo By Gail Worley

 

My Heart Is In It Mural By Sara Erenthal

my heart is in it by sara erenthal photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

Ongoing for a few years at this point, The New Allen Project (#thenewallen) has transformed Allen Street into a continuously evolving gallery of vibrant Street Art. One of my favorite contributing muralists is Sara Erenthal, an artist with a very distinctive style who also likes to infuse her works with a positive message. Heaven knows, we need more of that.

my heart is in it by sara erenthal photo by gail worley

This pink lady, whose shirt declares “My Heart Is In It,” went up in November of 2019. You can find her next to the Subway sandwich shop at the corner of Delancey and Allen Streets, where you could previously find This Mural, which was also by Erenthal.

my heart is in it by sara erenthal photo by gail worley