Tag Archives: Must See Art

Must See Art: Martin Wittfooth, Offering at Jonathan LeVine Gallery

Mother's Milk
Mother’s Milk By Martin Wittfooth (All Photos By Gail)

Putting a surrealist, almost sci-fi spin on the paintings of American ornithologist John Audubon, and recalling his contemporary Josh Keyes‘ “after man” images of animals running amok in a modern society that is strangely absent of all human life, artist Martin Wittfooth delivers Offering, his first solo exhibition at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. After being fascinated by Martin’s work for years as part of group shows in galleries like Stephen Romano and RH Gallery, as well as many shows at LeVine, it was amazing to see so many of his captivating canvases gathered in one exhibit — at a gallery that definitely knows how to best serve this artist’s work.

Dawn
Dawn

In Dawn, a painting that takes up one entire wall of the main gallery space, a whale glides through an underwater cityscape that, judging from glowing lights visible in distant, scattered windows, likely still has inhabitants of some kind.

Witness
Witness

In Witness, a close examination reveals that the knots on a lone, nearly desiccated tree reveals that the tree actually has eyes. Heavy.

Witness Detail

Martin explains that the works in Offering explore the theme of shamanism and its current revitalization around the world. These paintings delve into the notion that the rediscovery of shamanistic practices, such as reaching an altered state of consciousness, is peeling away our egos and materialistic obsessions and encouraging a connection with nature and to each other.

Gathering
Gathering

“The great challenges of our time primarily stem from the repression, predetermined delineation of consciousness and the myriad of other ways by which our materialistic culture has lost its connection with the natural world,” he continues. “The reemergence of shamanism appears to be having a great impact on consciousness around the globe by severing individuals’ attachments to the ego-driven, ideology-based, monotheistic modality that has shaped so much of the human enterprise over the past millennia.”

Nectar
Nectar

Wittfooth Sketches

Sketch Studies for the all of the paintings in the exhibit are also on display and available to own.

Cycle
Cycle

Bloom
Bloom

Marosa
Marosa

I love this painting of an Elephant/Octopus hybrid. It reminds me of This Painting by Robert Deyber, an artist Martin said he was unfamiliar with. The paintings aren’t that similar, but it was just an observation. Be sure to check out Offering while you can!

Martin Wittfooth’s Offering will be on Exhibit Through November 14th, 2015 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 2oth Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Rainsong
Rainsong

Martin Wittfooth Signage

Must See Art: Al Farrow, Wrath & Reverence at Forum Gallery

Forum Gallery Installation View
All Photos By Gail (Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail)

You don’t have to dig very deep to find a well of meaning in the works that make up sculptor Al Farrow’s new exhibit Wrath & Reverence, currently up at Forum Gallery in Midtown. In perhaps the most unique and profoundly thought provoking exhibit we’ve see in recent years, Wrath & Reverence consists of churches, synagogues, mosques, a mausoleum, Jewish ritual objects and Christian ‘casket’ reliquaries, all rendered from munitions. It brings the phrase ‘Holy War’ into an entirely new reality.

Mosque III (After National Mosque of Nigeria)
Mosque III (After National Mosque of Nigeria)

The buildings are highly detailed and faithful to reality in terms of proportion and architectural design.

Bombed Mosque Front
Bombed Mosque (Front)

One monumental sculpture, Bombed Mosque, took the artist a year to create in his California studio, using more than 50,000 disarmed bullets and shell casings. The patterns and decorations formed from patinated and polished bullets adorn the structure in hauntingly accurate turquoise and gold; but one side of the massive dome is blown open, bombed in fact, speaking to the deep chasm between religious sects.

Bombed Mosque Back
Bombed Mosque (Back)

Menorah (Fence II)
Menorah (Fence II)

A Menorah, crafted from barbed wire and machine gun shells, is clearly layered with meaning and reference, but is an object of great reverence as well, attuned to past and present while statuesque and compelling in its presence.

Gun Menorah
Menorah (Guns, Gun Parts, Steel, Bullets)

Trigger Finger of Santo Geurro
Trigger Finger of Santo Geurro (Guns, Bullets, Bullet Shells, Steel, Bone)

Farrow makes art not about a certain religion, but about the repetition of history, the inexorable battle of mankind, and the perversion of organized religion as a whole.

Trigger Finger of Santo Geurro (Detail)
Trigger Finger of Santo Geurro (Detail)

Assorted Reliquaries
Assorted Reliquaries

Sacred and profane, metaphoric and literal, gleaming and shocking, Al Farrow’s Wrath & Reverence is unforgettable and deeply moving.

Sketch Of Trinity Church
Sketch Of Trinity Church

This exhibit marks my first visit to the Forum Gallery, a legendary space that I was turned on to after being highly impressed with their various exhibits at this years Metro Curates Art Fair.

Installation View

The room is gorgeous and the people who work in the gallery are very nice and friendly, which can be a rare thing these days. I will definitely be visiting them again, and covering more shows at Forum in the future. For now, make sure you don’t miss Al Farrow’s Wrath and Reverence, which is just fantastic.
Mausoleum II
Mausoleum II

Wrath and Reverence, the Art of Al Farrow will be on Exhibit Through May 2nd, 2015 at Forum Gallery, Located at 475 Park Avenue , NYC.

Vandalized Synagogue Door (I)
Vandalized Synagogue Door (I)

Must See Art: Julian Stanczak’s From Life at Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Julian Stanczak Four Panels
All Photos By Gail

I don’t think I could count the number of times I overheard someone mention how much the paintings of Julian Stanczak reminded them of Op Art pioneer Bridget Riley while we cruised around the opening reception for From Life, Stanczak’s new exhibit over at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. Trust me: it was a lot – and I was thinking the same thing.

Julian Stanczak Red Bars

But a little research on my part revealed that the term Op Art actually first appeared in print in Time Magazine in October 1964 in response to Stanczak’s Optical Paintings exhibit at the Martha Jackson gallery. Crazy!

Julian Stanczak Orange and Yellow

Now at age 86, Julian Stanczak – a former student of Joseph Albers, whose early life was marked by enormous personal struggle – serves as a true artistic and personal inspiration with his first solo exhibition at M-I & N, which includes a dozen large-scale paintings spanning the artist’s career from the 1960s to the present and includes works not seen publically in decades.

Julian Stanczak Blue and Red Squares

Stanczak’s canvases are created through a complex process of tape masks in which colors are systematically added and unveiled in layers. While incredibly methodical, Stanczak works alone on his canvases without the aid of preliminary sketches, relying solely on his own vision of a finished work.

Julian Stanczak Black Grid

A Detail from the Above Painting is Below.

Julian Stanczak Detail

This is even more impressive when you know that Stanczak lost the complete use his of right arm after confinement in a Siberian hard labor camp during World War II.

Additional 1980
Additional (1980)

Arist in front of Additional
Julian Stanczak, Photographed in front of Additional, at the Show’s Opening Reception on October 30th.

The artist makes the surface plane of the painting vibrate through his use of lines and contrasting colors, but what I want to really emphasize is how these paintings look completely different to the naked eye than they do when seen through the lens of a camera. The observable transformation is really quite remarkable.

Julian Stanczak Black Test Pattern

In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that these paintings are mind-blowing.

Julian Stanczak

Very highly recommended!

Julian Stanczak’s From Life will be on Exhibit Through December 6th, 2014 at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Located at 534 West 26th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Quatorial 1978
Quatorial 1978

From Life Signage

Must See Art: Barry McGee at Cheim & Read

Barry McGee Surf Boards
Surfboards and Boogie Boards By Barry McGee (All Photos By Gail)

Cheim & Read is currently hosting an exhibition of new work by Barry McGee, which is the McGee’s first solo show with the gallery and his first show in New York in eight years. McGee is arguably among the most well-known and influential artists from the San Francisco Bay Area to have international success. His boldly graphic, colorful work incorporates a multitude of influences (including graffiti, American folk art and Op Art), but especially the urban street culture he knows well.

Painting By Barry McGee

Translating the city’s unique vernacular into artistic imagery, McGee celebrates the diversity, distinctive characters and neighborhood communities of the inner-city. His work critiques consumerist culture and the constant backdrop of commercialism in everyday interactions; rejecting the billboard and chain store, McGee instead finds inspiration in the seeming randomness of graffiti, the endless uploading of images on the internet, and the creative styling of misfits. McGee’s work succeeds in its sensitive balance between anarchy and collaboration, resulting in environments which immerse the viewer in his singular, yet inclusive, vision.

Details from Painting By Barry McGee

The multi-image, whimsical commercial style of his work reminded me every much of artworks by Jim Houser and also Rebus Puzzle artist Stephen Powers.

Red Potato King By Barry McGee
Potato King Detail from Larger Painting

Directly involved with the installations of his shows, McGee organizes his multi-layered compositions on-site. For the Cheim & Read exhibition, assembled clusters of framed drawings and hand-painted wood panels accompany loose stacks of embellished surfboards, fetish-like wooden objects and specially-made furniture.

Small Sculptures By Barry McGee

Low Tables By Barry McGee

Drawings, paintings and sculptures are treated equally; echoing his anti-establishment sensibility, McGee refuses hierarchies of material or subject matter. His recent work is comprised of flat-surfaced, brightly-colored geometric motifs, serial images and caricatures of cartoon-like characters, and recurring monikers, like the pseudonym “L. Fong,” and the acronyms “THR” (The Human Race or The Harsh Reality) and “DFW” (Down for Whatever).

Room Installation By Barry McGee
Click on Image to Enlarge for Detail

Interspersed among the abstract panels (which sometimes expand along bulbous walls and around corners en masse), the images and words provide an enigmatic but individualized narrative in an otherwise vibrating, tile-like field of intense pattern.

Fong By Barry McGee

Large Red Painting By Barry McGee

Visually stimulating, perceptive, and seeming to channel the various rhythmic beats of urban culture, McGee’s work addresses issues of identity, mark-making, authorship and autonomy within the bustling, constantly changing tableau of city life.

This is one of my favorite new exhibits of the season. Don’t miss it!

Barry McGee will be on Exhibit through October 26th, 2013 at Cheim & Read, located at 547 West 25th Street, NYC, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Red Geometric Designs Painting By Barry McGee

Must See Art: Blek Le Rat’s Ignorance is Bliss

Sweet Dreams
Sweet Dreams by Blek Le Rat (All Photos By Gail)

My vote for the first Must See Show of NYC’s Fall Art Season is iconic stencil artist Blek Le Rat’s Ignorance is Bliss at Jonathan LeVine Gallery. While Saturday’s opening reception was comparatively sparsely attended, this made for a great viewing experience, perfect photo snapping conditions and a chance to talk to the artist himself, who was on hand to sign cards, pose for photos and, in general, be an all around nice, cool guy. Blek Le Rat!

Rope Pulling
Rope Pulling

Ignorance is Bliss is Le Rat’s largest body of work to date and his second solo exhibit at the Gallery.

David with Kalashnikov
David with Kalashnikov

The exhibit features a series of works on canvas as well as one bronze, marking the first time the artist has worked in sculpture. The gilded bronze piece depicts Michaelangelo’s David holding a rifle, and is based on a stencil that Blek le Rat has stenciled on the streets of cities all over the world. The sculpture also features a small rat by David’s feet (sadly, the rat is slighting obscured by David’s leg in the photo above). This iconic rat is found throughout the artist’s work, and, coincidentally, is also found repeatedly in the work of Banksy, for whom Le Rat is a direct and prominent influence.

Avida Dollars
Avida Dollars (Salvador Dali Portrait)

Spray Can
Spray Can

Ignorance is Bliss fills all rooms of the Gallery — rare for the LeVine space, which can co-exhibit work by up to three featured artists at one time.
Sibyl and Power of Ignorance
Sibyl and Power of Ignorance

The Big Race
The Big Race

Vicious
Vicious

It’s always fun to see someone re-interpret this popular shot of the late Sid Vicious by photographer Dennis Morris.

Blek Le Rat is a legend and his work has influenced everyone, so do come out and see this show while you can!

Blek Le Rat’s Ignorance is Bliss will be on Exhibit Through October 5th, 2013 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor in the Chelsea Gallery District.

3 Blind Rats
3 Blind Rats

Must See Art: Kenny Scharf Kolors at Paul Kasmin Gallery

Gallery View with Red Scary Guy
Gallery View with Red Scary Guy Sculpture (All Photos By Gail)

You know it’s going to be a good opening reception when a gallery’s press email announces that there will be a Donut Cart onsite. Sadly, we were not swift and ruthless enough to procure a delicious fried confection (provided by the Donut Plant). But it hardly mattered, because Kolors, the latest Kenny Scharf art collection tucked inside the Paul Kasmin Gallery was, oh, so satisfyingly sweet.

Kenny Scharf Totemotiki SculptureKenny Scharf Totemotiki Sculpture Detail
Kenny Scharf’s Totemotiki Sculpture and Detail

If you know Scharf’s work mostly from his many colorful murals dotting the streets of New York City, you’ll definitely recognize the characters depicted in three larger than life, candy-colored sculptures strategically placed around the gallery.

Squirtz Surprised FaceSquirtz Grinning Face
Squirtz, a Two-Sided Sculpted Head sits on a rotating platform.

These sculptures are bordered by walls adorned with single color-themed (though not exactly monochromatic) paintings of Scharf’s signature amorphous shapes, albeit without the customary accompanying facial characteristics. Scharf’s new Kolors collection makes for one of the most successful transitions of an artist’s work from the street to the gallery that I’ve ever seen.

Kenny Scharf Purple

Kenny Scharf Red

Kenny Scharf Green

The bright colors and fun shapes of Kenny Scharf’s art make Kolors a very family friendly exhibit. Small kids will probably go a little crazy around the sculptures, though, so be aware that touching of the art is strictly not allowed.

Kenny Scharf Large Canvas

In a separate rear room of the Kasmin Gallery, a single oversize painting allows Scharf’s two worlds to collide in an amalgam of the amorphous shapes with faces, done in the style of the Kolor canvases in the series. Congratulations, Kenny, on a truly spectacular exhibit!

Kenny Scharf’s Kolors will be on Exhibit through May 4, 2013 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Located at 515 West 27th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Kenny Scharf Kolors Signage

Must See Art: Mark Kostabi at Martin Lawrence Galleries

Mark Kostabi Pianist

All Art By Mark Kostabi, All Photos By Gail

Our first post-Sandy art excursion turned out to be the party of the week, as modern/contemporary painter Mark Kostabi debuted a series of colorful new works at the Martin Lawrence Galleries in Soho. The red wine flowed freely (more about that later) last evening, as the gallery quickly filled with friends and fans of Kostabi, all excited to see the artist’s latest series of visually engaging paintings done in his signature style. Geoffrey and I had a blast looking at all of Mark’s awesome art, chatting with Mark (who is quite generous with sharing his opinion that the Two G’s are the “Best Bloggers in New York” – which, true) meeting new art lovers and getting drunk for free.

Here are some photos I took last night with my new iPad!

Mark Kostabi Card Players

Looking at the painting above, one fan was overheard commenting that it would be “really cool” if Kostabi would “Paint some faceless dogs playing poker,” which I thought was hilarious, but, Mark, if you are reading this review, how about it?

As an aside: I love how in this painting Mark references both art icons Piet Mondrian and The Guggenheim Museum, because that is how he rolls.

Spill The Wine

This is a picture I took of my spilled wine after I put it down on the floor so I could take a picture of the statue below, and Geoffrey kicked it over. Fortunately, the gallery employees were not angry, and no art was harmed in the spill.

Mark Kostabi Statue

I think I would also have a headache if little men, or “baby men,” whatever, were crawling all over me.

Mark Kostabi Dancing Couple with Dollar Signs

In this painting of a couple dancing, you can see Mark’s obvious stylistic references to Andy Warhol, who rules.

Mark Kostabi Keith Herring

I believe it is safe to guess that this work was influenced by the late, great Keith Herring.

Mark Kostabi Red Nudes

I wish my ass looked that good.

Mark Kostabi Girl at Mirror

There is not much that I do not love about this painting.

Martin Lawrence Galleries is located in Soho at 457 West Broadway (just south of Houston) in NYC.