Recently, I publicly lamented my inability to navigate current exhibits in the Chelsea Gallery District. With the added precautions needed when going out during the Covid Life, and the fact that my former gallery-hopping companion has relocated to the west coast, I am too distracted and overwhelmed with minutiae to research which new exhibits will appeal to my unique visual aesthetic. It is cause for great joy then that I have discovered New York Gallery Tours — which does the hard work of figuring out where to go for you! Founded in 2002 by Rafael Risemberg — a former college professor with a Ph.D. in arts education — New York Gallery Tours hosts meticulously-curated two-hour adventures in Contemporary Art featuring the very best of what’s happening at the Chelsea Galleries (and other arts neighborhoods as well). Tour groups are kept super small (one to five people) so that there’s room to socially distance and more time for Rafael to explain the art, and encourage lively conversation. On a recent Saturday afternoon, my art-loving neighbors Leslie and Kat and I met up for a tour with Rafael, and we were able to hit up nine different galleries across ten blocks, because that is how we roll.
Do you enjoy looking at the paintings of contemporary pop artist Mark Kostabi? I sure do. There are a few reasons why I never miss an opening reception for an exhibit of Mark’s work: not only is there a ton of great art to look at and talk about with other cool, art-loving people, but it is always a good party and a chance to, as it is sometimes referred to in the vernacular, “make the scene.” And I enjoy making the scene.
Although he painted in both realist and abstract styles during his career, Dutch painter Piet Mondrian is best known for his grid paintings of vertical and horizontal black lines with the three primary colors. Composition in Oval With Color Planes I (1914) follows a grid pattern but is somewhat unique in that Mondrian used a pastel color palette.
According to experts, “the geometry of this composition, made two years after Mondrian moved from Holland to Paris, is directly based on sketches of partially demolished buildings, with exposed floors, chimneys and patches of wallpaper. Mondrian believed that horizontal and vertical lines, such as those he used here, expressed an underlying, universal order.”
This piece was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art for its permanent collection in 1950.
Jim Joe (real name and identity unknown) is a NYC tagger/street artist who writes his name, and an occasional saying, on buildings around the various NYC boroughs and, The Hole Gallery would have us believe, apparently wants to be taken seriously as an artist. OK, whatever. I like to keep an open mind about what constitutes “Art” in a contemporary sense, but this exhibit takes even the James Franco School of The Emperors New Clothes Phenomena to a new level of bullshit.
Opening on New Year’s Day, 2014 and running through the month of January, the January 2014 show will expand daily as The Hole adds to the exhibit each day with new works by Jim Joe. We dropped in on Saturday, January 4th to find the works you see in this post on display and constituting the exhibit in its entirety to-date. Yawn City.
There were two other pieces that I declined to photograph: one that looked like a sheet of newsprint and a black, half-loop-squiggle spray-painted directly onto the gallery wall. Trust me, you’re not missing anything.
I found this little Santa Claus plush toy discarded in one corner of the gallery floor. It is unclear whether this is meant to be part of January 2104, perhaps as a found object commentary on the Commercialism of the Holiday Season. Who Knows.
We do have more than three full weeks left in the month of January, so this exhibit could take a turn for the better, say, in the next week or so. But from what I saw not it’s not worth the bother of checking out unless you want to see for yourself how much of a joke it is. Or, you could also see Adam Green & Friends Hot Chicks group show, which runs concurrently in The Hole’s rear gallery.
It’s crap like this that gives Contemporary Art a bad name. Color me not impressed.