Tag Archive | Curiosities

Last Rites Gallery Celebrates Amazing Interior Renovation with Two New Exhibits!

“If it works, don’t fix it” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, and with good reason. It seems like as soon as you get comfortable with something, or figure out how it operates, it changes – and usually not for the better (see: FaceBook). Those who read this blog regularly know that the Last Rites Gallery is my favorite art space in Manhattan. Also home to the tattoo studio of artist Paul Booth, visiting Last Rites has always felt like going to an art Theme Park or the abandoned set of a horror movie. Aside from the cutting-edge artists they represent, the space has such an engaging vibe that you want to just hang out there, enjoy the art and talk to people for hours. I had no idea that Last Rites was undergoing an extensive renovation that is simply breathtaking. A combination of ambitious visual design and expert execution has come together to make an already unique space even more impressive than you could imagine.

Previously, one entered Last Rites through the dungeon-like tattoo parlor before encountering the brightly lit, white walls of the rear gallery space. With the new redesign, a larger, more open gallery space is now upfront, putting the emphasis on the fantastic art featured in this one of a kind gallery. At the rear of the floor you’ll now find tattoo stations set amid a large and comfortable lounge space, which picks up the darker, Gothic theme with its cathedral-like architectural features, marble finishes, candle-it illumination and dark red fabrics. They’ve also added a separate bar area for serving drinks during opening receptions, promoting a nightclub feel which very much reminds me of the late great Limelight, especially during the era when that club featured a collection of Clive Barker-esque horror art. Paul Booth and his renovation crew from a small basement renovations Toronto, ON have done a simply fantastic job transforming Last Rites into an inviting new venue that must surely exceed their expectations, vastly improving on a space that I never even thought needed to change a thing. Great job guys!

Friday July 22nd marked the gallery’s grand reopening, where the scene was lively and welcoming. In the crowd we spotted Martina and Frank Russo from the MF Gallery and Kevin Wilson of Sacred Gallery on lower Broadway, as well as artists Michael Mararian and Jason D’Aquino (both of whom have previously exhibited at Last Rites), hot artist Martin Wittfooth and the wildly talented Eric “Eyeball” Richardson – who assisted with the renovation and told me that they had only just finished painting the walls a couple of hours prior to opening the doors that evening.


“Racecar” By Chet Zar

In what was a fantastic atmosphere to talk with artists whose work I love and to catch up with friends, it seemed like everybody on the Manhattan art scene was there to congratulate Paul and to enjoy two new exhibits: Chet Zar’s Faces of Death and Craig LaRotonda’s Eternal Consequences. Faces of Death fills the front of the gallery with Zar’s collection of gruesome yet compelling portraiture featuring an otherworldly group of subjects – alien to us but somehow not unsympathetic nor entirely unfamiliar to each other. Zar’s paintings are bold and disquieting but, much like Travis Louie’s Curiosities series, they encourage imaginative extrapolation in the viewer as to who these beings are, what kind of world they inhabit and how they came to sit for these portraits.


“Pink Elephant” By Chet Zar

Craig LaRotonda’s Eternal Consequences consists of portraits of anthropomorphized primates painted in a religious or renaissance style; very provocative and quite a departure from the artist’s previous works. With Last Rites extended evening hours, escape the heat and head over to check out the new space before these exhibits end.

Chet Zar’s Faces of Death and Craig LaRotonda’s Eternal Consequences will be on Exhibit through at August 18, 2011 at Last Rites Gallery, Located at 511 W. 33rd Street, 3rd Floor, New York City. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 2 – 9 PM and Sunday 2 – 6 PM.

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Sock Puppet Portraits

Lillith
Lillith

Union Square Park Holiday Market is an annual outdoor crafts fair that takes place at the South end of Union Square Park bordered by 14th Street, Union Square West and Broadway. The market is open during the hours of 11 AM to 8 PM, every day from Black Friday through Christmas Eve, and features hundreds of widely varied crafts of every kind. It gets pretty crowded, and shopping outdoors in December can present a unique thrill on its own, but it’s a great place to do your Holiday shopping – especially if you have friends who appreciate a truly unusual and creative gift.

Duchess
Duchess

I took a shortcut through the market today on my way from Barnes & Noble to Trader Joe’s, and was immediately distracted by a booth selling Sock Puppet Portraits. Yes, that is what I said. Sock Puppet Portraits are the creation of a guy named Marty Allen, and rather than paintings, these are photographs of Marty’s sock puppet creations, which are captured via a phenomenally high definition technique. Really, they are true works of art that must be seen live to be fully appreciated.

Spot
Spot

Much like the creatures populating artist Travis Louie’s book, Curiosities, each puppet portrait has a name, a personality and a background story. According to Marty’s website, they also have “a bevy of social disorders, their own credit debt, and most have their own MySpace profile pages. Many perform with Marty and several other humans in the nationally-touring sock puppet and human multimedia rock and roll sensation, Uncle Monsterface. The nine newest are set to star in a Youtube-based Sock Puppet Soap Opera, Sock Puppet Manor.” Sock Puppet Portraits can be viewed and purchased online at This Link, or you can visit Marty at his booth in the Union Square Park Holiday Market until December 24th. The booth is approximately two rows in from the side of the market bordered by Union Square West.

Antonio
Antonio

Must See Art: Travis Louie’s Strange Myths at the Joshua Liner Gallery


Krampus Mugshot By Travis Louie

If you like your contemporary art on the surreal side with an added twist of the freakish, then you’ll want to make a trip over to the Joshua Liner Gallery on West 28th Street to have your mind blown away by one of their current exhibits, Strange Myths, featuring the work of Queen’s born artist Travis Louie. Here’s what the gallery’s website has to say about this unique and highly compelling exhibit:

Louie’s acrylic-on-panel paintings are whimsical portraits of bizarre beings, most of them inspired by a youthful fascination with “Atomic Age” sci-fi and horror movies, circus sideshows, and Vaudeville magic acts. Richly rendered in black and white with fine shading, the work is also influenced by the lighting and atmosphere of German Expressionist and Film Noir motion pictures.

With Curious Myths, a suite of 15 new, small-to medium-sized works, Louie has directed his lively journal practice of tiny drawings and narrative vignettes toward the creation of a cohesive, imaginary world styled with Victorian and Edwardian effects. This fictive zone is both cozy and creepy, inhabited by human oddities, mythical beings, and otherworldly characters that have seemingly posed for formal portraits to mark both their existence and place in society. Each image/character is uniquely loaded with ungainly charm and ample backstory. The underlying thread connecting the characters is the unusual circumstances that shape them and how they’ve lived.”

This Dude Was My Favorite

Geoffrey (G’s review, with more photos, up now at this link) and I had a chance to meet Travis at the opening and he was gracious enough to sign the show’s promotional post card for us. Very cool! I also just picked up a copy of his book, Curiosities, on Amazon.com, which continues the story of many of the characters featured in this exhibit. Read more about Louie and check out his portfolio at his official website, Travis Louie Dot Com.

Travis Louie’s Curious Myths runs through August 7, 2010 at the Joshua Liner Gallery, 548 West 28th Street, 3rd Floor (between 10th and 11th Avenues) New York, NY 10001. Do not miss it!