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November 30, 2012

Eva Schicker at Valentine Tonight!

Eva Schicker, Across the Mountainscape, ink on paper, 22x30, detail, 2012

Eva Schicker, who is represented at our gallery, will be showing at VALENTINE tonight in a group exhibit

RECENT DRAWINGS

James Siena, David Humphrey, Loie Hollowell, Eva Schicker

Opening tonight, 6PM - 9PM at Valentine
464 Seneca Ave • Ridgewood • Queens 11385 • 718 381-2962

DeKalb Avenue L station map
The exhibit runs through December 23rd.

Gallery hours are Friday - Sunday from 1PM - 6PM and by appointment.


November 16, 2012

Fuchs Projects Opens at 56 Bogart Street

Rafael Fuchs, copyright 2012, all rights reserved.

Rafael Fuchs, one of our represented artists, has opened Fuchs Projects in the premier Bushwick gallery building of 56 Bogart Street.

"Our mission is to preserve, produce, create events and exhibit art works of emerging and mid-career artists who are a part of the Bushwick art evolution and are creating challenging, educating and titillating works that are related, especially, to the photography media."

Currently on view is

TILL WE BLEED
Rafael Fuchs
new archival prints
Until December 2, 2012


October 8, 2012

Jan Holthoff: The Chemical Landscape

Fractured Mountain pigment, acrylic on canvas, 39.5 x 31.5 in. 2012

THE CHEMICAL LANDSCAPE
Paintings by Jan Holthoff

Opening Reception: Friday, October 19, 7PM-11PM
Duration: October 19 - November 25, 2012
EXTENDED TO FEBRUARY 25, 2013


Print copies available at the gallery

119 Ingraham Street, Suite 312
Brooklyn NY

"The gesture in paint is a trace of my subjectivity. And this comes together with the subjectivity of my experience of landscape. Experience of landscape, experience of painting. Experience is the key in both cases. But it is really about subjectivity. I don't get images from the Internet, I don't work with film stills. I get all my images from traveling. It's about the value of subjectivity." (Jan Holthoff)

It is as if the paint were a continuous extension of the landscape … by dint of being at odds with it. As if the canvas were merely the residue or the document of a chemical reaction involving landscape and subject. And as in chemistry, the agent and substrate are both part of a single and unitary event, and yet also riven by the differences in their properties.

From the catalog essay by Ethan Pettit
exhibition archive on our website

Flickering pigment, acrylic on canvas, 39.5 x 31.5 in. 2012

October 7, 2012

When We Were Ancient


Teddy's Bar and Grill celebrates 25 years of solidarity
with the avant garde!
As part of the celebrations of their 25th anniversary, and also of 125 years since Peter Doelger opened a tavern at this location, Teddy’s Bar and Grill is proud to present
WHEN WE WERE ANCIENT
a history of the Williamsburg scene
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 20, 9pm to Midnight
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Teddy's Back Room
96 Berry Street, at the corner of North 8th Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(L Train to Bedford Avenue)
718.384.9787


•••••••••••••••••••••••••••

a project of ethan pettit gallery
347.578.3041
An exhibit of archives from the artist and bohemian migration to Williamsburg and Greenpoint in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Zines, posters, photos, weeklies, artist literature of all kinds from 3 decades.
And featuring Ward Shelley’s "Williamsburg Timeline"
Loren Munk’s "Williamsburg Strip" and photography by Mara Catalan.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Minor Injury • The Nose • Flytrap • Cat's Head • Lizard's Tail • Keep Refrigerated • Lalalandia • El Sensorium • Organism • They Might Be Giants • The L Cafe • Mustard • Brand Name Damages • Waterfront Week • Worm • Tony Millionaire • Medea's Weekend • The Curse • The Can Man • The Ten Dollar Man • Test-Site • Open Window Theater • The Pedestrian Project • Nerve Circle • The Astro Zombies • Colored Greens • Hit & Run Theater • Wild Child Productions • Lex Grey • The Ship's Mast • and piles of other ephemera and detritus from the days of $300 apartments in the heart of the Northside

From the archives of ethan pettit contemporary and Eyewash gallery
Special thanks to Larry Walczak
Curated by Ethan Pettit
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••
If you know who you are ... you will not want to miss this

Exhibit runs through November 15, daily

Photo: the Northside waterfront, circa 1990. © Eva Schicker 2012




September 28, 2012

Ken Butler Performs Tonight at the Brooklyn Rod & Gun Club


FRIDAY 9/28: Ken Butler - Voices of Anxious Objects 8:00pm
Brooklyn Rod & Gun Club

59 Kent Avenue, Williamsburg, between North 10th and North 11th.

Ken performs regularly here, he does a great show, and it's a great hang!

details

Schwitters meets Rube Goldberg meets Hamza El-din meets Beefheart meets late Miles! A truly amazing performance! Ken Butler is an artist and musician whose Hybrid musical instruments, performances, collage drawings, and installations explore the interaction and transformation of common and uncommon objects, altered images, sounds and silence. His works have been featured in numerous exhibitions and performances throughout the USA, Canada, and Europe including The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and The Kitchen, The Brooklyn Museum, The Queens Museum, Lincoln Center and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as well as in South America, Thailand, and Japan. His works have been reviewed in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Artforum, Smithsonian, and Sculpture Magazine and have been featured on PBS, CNN, MTV, and NBC, including a live appearance on The Tonight Show.




September 15, 2012

Gili Levy at Valentine

Gili Levy, oil on canvas, approx. 46" x 54"
Now on view at Valentine
Gili Levy is in the show that opened last night at Valentine in Ridgewood. She joints Lauren Collings, Barbara Friedman, and Shelley Marlow in "4 Who Paint." This is a good show, well worth a visit. Fred Valentine has an excellent eye and about as good a knowledge of the arts in northern Brooklyn as it is possible to have. The shows at his gallery are consistently intelligent. Gili Levy has been in both of the two shows we've had to date at ethan pettit gallery, and so we are delighted with her placement in the present show at Valentine.


September 4, 2012

Panel Discussion on Bushwick Galleries this Saturday. Don't Miss It!

After three months in business as an art dealer, I have built up a bit of a steam of things to say about this business. About new models that need to be explored, and old assumptions that need to be relegated to the dustbin of art history.


This Saturday at 5:30 (Sept. 8) I will be participating in a panel discussion at the Bogart Salon in Bushwick, as part of Citydrift. 56 Bogart Street, Morgan L Stop.

The business and role of galleries in Brooklyn today is most definitely a compelling topic, and we have Peter Hopkins and Meenakshi Thirukode to thank for pushing this to the discussion it needs!

The weekend will be full of other panel discussions as well. For example, I will definitely be interested in what my landlord Thomas Burr Dodd of Brooklyn Fire Proof has to say about the new business environment in Bushwick.

Download the entire Citydrift/Bushwick schedule of panel discussions.

AND DON'T FORGET TO COME TO OUR OPENING ON FRIDAY NIGHT — WACKADOODLE. 7PM - 11PM. 119 Ingraham Street, Suite 312. Morgan L Stop.

See the time and location details for WACKADOODLE on our website

Thank you for your time. And I hope to see you on Friday night.

— Ethan Pettit


August 28, 2012

Wackadoodle !!!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 7 — October 14, 2012

Opening Reception — Friday, September 7 — 7PM-11PM

Ken Butler • Robert Egert • Jan Holthoff • Gili Levy • Henry G. Sanchez
Eva Schicker • Alkemikal Soshu


August 26, 2012

Ken Butler Is in the House!



We count ourselves lucky among New York City galleries now to be representing an iconoclast of two major currents of activity across the turn of the century. Ken Butler is outsized both in Williamsburg and in the downtown school of Zorn. He is probably also the only artist in the world who can claim the distinction of having had simultaneous shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.
Ken Butler's work has also been featured at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and at Exit Art, Thread Waxing Space, The Kitchen, The Brooklyn Museum, and Lincoln Center. His work has toured South America, Thailand, and Japan. Butler has been reviewed in the New York Times, The Village Voice, Artforum, and Smithsonian magazine. He has been featured on MTV, PBS, CNN, and NBC. Ken recorded his 1997 Voices of Anxious Objects on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records. And he has a dozen other releases out on various labels.

Ken Butler, Sled Cello, 1998, Mixed media. Collection of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette, Oregon, Gift of the artist

I am most pleased that Ken has joined us. I welcome and thank him. In our upcoming group show opening September 7 (still TBA) you'll see some of Ken Butler’s famous hybrid instruments.


Ken Butler, Torso Cello, 1994, Mixed media. 51 x 14 x 12



July 24, 2012

Soshu Covers "Amalgam" in Kathmandu

One of our artists, Alkemikal Soshu, made this video of the annual "Amalgam" show at Siddhartha art gallery in Kathmandu. There are 26 artists in the show, which positions established Nepalese artists along with recent graduates of art academies in Nepal and India.

Soshu's commentary in this video is most interesting. He converses easily with painting and is intimate with the art scene in Nepal. He mentions for example an initiative in the 1960s by the King of Nepal to boost the arts in the kingdom. And there are a number of pithy satires in the show on the monarchy (which was only recently deposed) and on Nepalese society and politics.


There are influences here from traditional religious and court painting, as well as from pop art, abstraction, and figurative art. Quite a diverse and compelling show that should be of interest to art communities around the world.


Arjun Khaling, detail. "A maze of natural tribal culture" says Sohsu 

Tikka Dutta Dahal, Yogis 
Soshu himself is not in this particular show, but he might as well be. Through his online videos and posts he has made himself a cultural ambassador from Kathmandu, where he enjoys perhaps more notoriety as a painter than he might care to admit.


Alkemikal Soshu, The Matador, oil on canvas 30 x 59.5 in. 2012


July 19, 2012

WAH Center Acquires Drawing by Eva Schicker

 
Floating on Clouds, Eva Schicker, 2011 
Yuko Ni, founder and director of the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center (WAH) has acquired a drawing by Eva Schicker, whose "Floating on Clouds" will go into the permanent collection of the center.

WAH has also been in possession for some 15 years of a complete set of all 8 issues of "The Nose", a poster-sized Williamsburg arts magazine that came out in the late 1980s and early 90s. The Nose was printed in limited editions in silkscreen, blueprint, and large photocopy. Since our gallery is a source of original editions of this and other early Williamsburg documents, we will also be verifying and documenting the WAH collection of the Nose.


This 1991 issue of "The Nose" is a blueprint based on arial photos
of Williamsburg and the East River

July 13, 2012

New Galleries Open in Bushwick

About six weeks into business as a gallery, with back to back stories in the Bushwick Daily about galleries closing and opening, and after a little poking around, it seems "displacement" is not the primary factor in galleries closing. Just running the place seems to be the sticking point. Many galleries in Bushwick are run by artists, and they are primarily about pulling new groups of artists together and having a place to show for as long as need be. And then eventually the founders move on to other creative projects, or return to making art full time. These kinds of galleries are the lifeblood of the art world, I think. And we always want them to last forever. And maybe some of them will! Bushwick Daily announces some new galleries. Check out Weldon Arts.

June 30, 2012

3 Galleries Close in Bushwick

Bushwick Daily announces the closure of Famous Accountants, 950 Hart, and Botanic. I may have been early to Williamsburg, but I was late to Bushwick. Our gallery is one month old today. So my hat goes off to those who started the gallery scene in Bushwick and made my job just a little bit easier. We wish these curators massive success and fulfillment in their next endeavors.


June 23, 2012

First Sale!

Mari Oshima, Metro Card, paper, glue, metro card. 5 x 7 in. 2011

We are pleased to announce that the gallery made its first sale this afternoon. Although some sales of artists' works occurred before we opened, this is our first sale since the gallery officially opened on June 1st. It is, therefore, our first sale out of the gallery as such.

Mari Oshima created "Metro Card" for a show called "Single Fare 2", a large group show of small works on used metro cards. Single Fare took place last year at Sloan Fine Art in the Lower East Side. This was a very popular event that many may remember. Congratulations, Mari!

Single Fare, a show of small works on used metro cards
Sloan Fine Art press release
Single Fare Opening Day
Mari Oshima's website
Mari Oshima's page on this website



June 19, 2012

Jan Holthoff in "Guest List" at Lehr Gallery, Cologne


Three represented artists at Lehr Zeitgenössische Kunst in Cologne show their works opposite three guest artists. Jan Holthoff invited his colleague Ildefons Höyng, who like Holthoff studied at the Düsseldorf Academy.  The website explains that while Holthoff's romantic landscapes integrate representation and abstraction, Höyng's color field paintings explore the limits of the picturesque without falling into representation. Höyng was a master student of Gerhard Richter. The show runs through July 28.

June 15, 2012

Yay! We Have a Doorbell !



Dial "312" and you will reach the gallery by intercom. My apologies to anyone who may have tried to visit us and couldn't get in. Up until now it has been necessary to call me on my cellphone in order to get into the gallery, even during opening hours. We put the cart a little bit before the horse on certain logistical matters in our rush to open during Bushwick Open Studios. In fact, we have yet to paint the walls. But we're getting there fast.

June 11, 2012

Humann Moves to "Affiliated" After Talks with his Gallery

We are not surprised. It was a known possibility. And we are overjoyed to be affiliated with Richard Humann. He is now "affiliated" not "represented." It initiates as well for us a new and needed category at the gallery. We are now officially in a "creative collaboration" with Richard, but not under any contract with him.

As an aside, I only have one signed contract with an artist at the moment. I established at the outset that we have until September to talk business. And so far it's been all thumbs up.


June 8, 2012

Gili Levy



One of our artists, Gili Levy, gleaned several mentions in the media during Bushwick Open Studios, including one in The New York Times, and one from our favorite writer on the Brooklyn Paper, Aaron Short. Other mentions appeared in Blouin Art Info, Bushwick Daily, and Structure and Imagery.

June 7, 2012

Inaugural Show

The inaugural show of our new gallery was a resounding success. We had good support early on from the community, good buzz, and great attendance. It took place over the weekend of Bushwick Open Studios, and we were listed in Bushwickdaily.com among the "top 15" galleries and studios to visit during the open studio weekend. Really a very thrilling weekend overall. THANK YOU to all of you who came out to support us and see the art. Visit us for more pics and info at the gallery and on Facebook.

One of our artists, Rafael Fuchs (aka "Fuchs of Bushwick") performs a night action while all of Germany looks on via the ZDF TV station. Friday night, June 1, 2012

May 10, 2012

thirty9 – the work of Richard Humann


Richard Humann, Salt of the Earth
won by the author at the wagmag Benefit Raffle on May 8, 2012




A funny thing happened to me at the Wagmag Benefit Art Raffle at the Boiler in Greenpoint last night. The way the raffle works is, you buy a ticket for $200. For that you are guaranteed one of the works hanging in the cavernous space, of which there were more than a hundred. The sooner your ticket is drawn from the bin, the larger the selection of art you have to choose from.

It is a bracing event, a benefit to support Wagmag, the must-have guide to art galleries across Brooklyn. The raffle has been going annually for a number of years, and has become a key social event in the Brooklyn art world; a kind of barometer of the scene and of the overall quality of work being made. There appear to have been considerably more works contributed by artists than there were tickets sold, so there is an element of competition to be sure. Presumably, at the end of the evening you’d just as soon not see your work still hanging on the wall. And if you are a well-known artist, you probably won't.





Daniel Aycock of Front Room draws a ticket at the raffle

I am starting a gallery of my own in "Bushwick" and a few of the artists I’m representing had contributed work to the raffle, as did some artists who are just friends. So I had a few people in mind as I entered the massive Boiler space on a shabby-chic street on the Greenpoint waterfront. As it happens, coming up right behind me at the entrance was the artist Richard Humann. “Richard” I said. “How auspicious. I had you in mind when I bought my raffle ticket.”

In the lost decade between Gowanus in the early 80s and the warehouse movement of early 90s Williamsburg, Richard Humann occupies an interesting place. He is probably the first conceptual artist in Williamsburg. Granted, his work was cooler and cleaner, more "classical" than the baroque science fiction of the environments who engulfed the neighborhood in the 90s. There is more 70s minimalism in Humann's early Brooklyn work, whereas we find more of a "bladerunner" aesthetic in the warehouse movement. Appreciable stylistic differences. And yet art in this neighborhood that has been provocative about space seems to begin with Richard Humann.




My raffle ticket and the list of artists with work in the raffle. A coincidence.

Anyway. The funny thing that happened is this. I discovered that my raffle number happened to be the same as the number indicating Humann's place on the list of participating artists. Unless I am missing something about how this raffle works, this could only have been pure chance. The list of artists is arbitrary, it does not correspond to the raffle number you happen to get — as this picture might suggest. And in any case, when your number is drawn, you get whatever you want that's still hanging on the walls. In this case, my number was 39, and the work I wanted was by Richard Humann, who happened to be number 39 on the list.

The sculpture I won, Salt of the Earth, even resembles a raffle bin. It is a standard saltshaker filled with tiny letters that seem to have been snipped out of a book or text of some kind. It alludes to randomness, chance, and the “aleatoric” in art as I think John Cage put it. I am really quite pleased with my take. Humann is no slouch, the piece clicks.




six33. A five-foot square , 9-inch deep panel of Baltic birch wood, painted with flat black and gloss white enamel, with flexographic ink transfer type burnished to the surface. Art in the Urban Matrix, FFA Gallery, 1989

In 1989 I was in a show in Greenpoint with Humann called Art in the Urban Matrix. Part of his work for that show involved numbers. Numbers encompass the entire idea. In square panels, a number appears, partly as a word and partly in numerals, to acknowledge the spoken sound as well as the digit. "Numbers were chosen," says Humann, "because they allow, much more than words, the viewer the opportunity to make a decision based on his or her own experiences. I originally listed pages of words and phrases, but they were too powerful."

Art in the Urban Matrix, 1989, PDF Download


In the early days, Richard was absorbed with language and signs, his work was astringent, precise, he had an architect’s eye for every detail of the material and conditions of the work. It was very straight-edged for Williamsburg in those days. The “Humann factor” was always an enigma in the local art scene. Why was he so influenced by minimalism and language art, when the news on the street was that we had all been “liberated” from that reductive theology? Hadn’t he heard that “one-liners” were over, and now we needed to immerse ourselves in painting and environmental art?


But Humann stuck with his shorthand and honed it, and the result is a body of work that is limpid, poetic, and of great range in form and subject matter. He was not typical of Williamsburg artists 20 years ago, minimalism was not fashionable, but he took a gamble on his overarching and suspended style of presentation, and it has got him a big space in the field. Richard Humann is the artist who saved conceptual art from postmodernism, 
the one who has given a second life to "Idea Art" and American conceptualism.




Humann's Lightbox is an assemblage of the portfolio slides of Brooklyn artists in the late 90s, just as archiving was going digital. Eighteen display boxes for more than 300 individual slides, it is a trenchant work of social art, deployed in Humann's signature furniture-grade birch plywood. “I chose slides because they are the currency of artists, and I wanted the currency as the art itself.”


Shelter. Late 1980s

This was the first time I’d ever been to this raffle, so I was aimless, and basically just making for the absinth-spiked punch bowl manned by the sizzling hipstress in the racy outfit. The place was packed and I quickly became absorbed in socializing, so I managed only a cursory glance at the art on the walls. When my ticket was called, I had no idea what was still available. “Richard Humann!” I yelled out on impulse. And I received a sculpture by an artist who is not only a friend but also a well known artist.

Humann is a dark horse with pedigree. It is because he has been in the Brooklyn scene longer than most, and because he has such a distinctive style, that he stands aloof from much that comes after him. And yet his work resonates in many places in Williamsburg over the course of 30 years. He is a gallery heavy, a veteran of the Venice Biennial, and a contemporary of the foundational Greenpoint school of painters like Chris Martin and Peter Acheson. But his work also anticipates by about half a decade the forceful engagement with space and installation that would engulf the neighborhood from 1989 onward in the work of artists like Lauren Szold, Dennis Del Zotto, and the Immersionists. He tracks two major currents in the formation of Williamsburg art, that of the studios and of the warehouses, and for that I think there's no question that Brooklyn owes Richard Humann a winning ticket.




Wave Swinger. Bass wood, 22.5" x 36" x 43". 2008 


Silently For Me, Kaohsiung International Container Arts Festival, Taiwan, December 2011





March 15, 2012

Immersionism


Song of Fuaa, a production by multipolyomni, early 1990s. From an album by DJ Olive

Immersionism is a cultural movement that took shape in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 1990s. It bears some affinity to the ideas of Buckminster Fuller, to Relational Aesthetics, paganism, and multi-media art. Here are a few articles and albums that I and some others have assembled on Immersionism:

Articles

Immersionism: Manifesto and Introduction with further links, February 13, 2011

The Omnisensorialists 1991-1999, by V Owen Bush, January 19, 2012

Immersionism and Relational Aesthetics, March 19, 2012

Go with the Flow (pdf download), Domus, February 1998. Suzan Wines coins the term "immersive environments" in this article.

The Cat's Head, Constructing Utopia in Brooklyn and Dublin (pdf download), TDR, Fall 1993. Melanie Hahn investigates early appearances of immersive culture.

Dennis Del Zotto and the Williamsburg Scene, June 7, 2006

Discourse sur la Moutarde: the evolution of warehouse events in Williamsburg (pdf download 622 KB), Breukelen Magazine, Winter 1993

Williamsburg's Arcadian Past, NY Observer, Zachary Woolfe on Billy Basinsky, November 2011

David Brody's 4-part series, From Biofreak to Organism, 2001 (pdf download)

Facebook albums of key immersive laboratories

Immersionism: Warehouse Events in Williamsburg, 1989-98

The Lizard's Tail

Lalalandia 

Nerve Circle

Mustard

The Federation of Ongolia

The Inflatable Man, immersive pioneer Dennis Del Zotto

Multipolyomni

The Sayanayas

Google spreadsheet on immersive events and players

March 14, 2012

Immersionism and Relational Aesthetics

I don't see any difference between relational aesthetics and the phenomenologies that were established by minimalism in the 1960s. They are both concerned with the "condition" that establishes "the work."

To say, as Bourriaud does, that relational art works "take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space," is just an extension of the in-your-face environmentalism of Donald Judd or Richard Serra. Throw a Jenny Holzer slogan in there and you've got postmodernism. Rehash it as a "relationship" between viewer and art condition, and you're just restating the obvious.

Relational aesthetics are a way of defining an art condition, with special emphasis on its relation to social and physical space. It is a field that was well-tilled by the minimalists. Immersionism is also a development of the early 90s, and it is also involves interactive and relational aesthetic experience. However, these are not necessary conditions for the immersive event. One has found in immersive events quite conventional, stand-alone art works, as well as interactive works. There are large communal spaces, and frequently as well cloister-like private spaces.

This is because in Immersionism the "theoretical point of departure" does not reside in the question of "human relations and their social context," a piece of jargon borrowed from the social sciences by art criticism. Hardly the first time this has been done.

Immersionism leaves human relations alone, does not try to inscribe "human relations" into aesthetics. One notices in the immersive aesthetics, just to cite two examples, of Nerve Circle and the Federation of Ongolia, that the aesthetic condition is already resolved. It does not hang self-consciously upon the entrance of a "viewer" to complete its condition. The world is already made, and the viewer is immersed in it. In what aspect the viewer or the participant stands in relation to the immersive condition is not really a concern of Immersionist theory.

Relational aesthetics advance a pedagogy of participation in which the participant completes the event. This is barely any different from the essentialism explored nearly half a century ago in, for example, a row of bricks on the floor by Carl Andre. Immersionism advances a world without these self-conscious comforts. The participant has to sink or swim, both as a "subject" and as a "communal" member.

Immersionism starts with systems that engage loops and spheres of information and sensory feedback. And these systems lie beyond just the sphere of "human relations." If Immersionism has a godfather from the 1960s, it would probably be Buckminster Fuller, rather than the minimalist and conceptualist art world.

Relational aesthetics entail a program about the use of gallery space and the "art condition." Immersionism addresses aesthetic experience as a general matter, and immersive practice has rarely taken place in galleries or theaters.

General Introduction to Immersionism

Compilation of links to Facebook albums on Immersionism and North Brooklyn art history

Facebook album on Immersionism in Williamsburg




February 22, 2012

Will the Real Golem Please Step Forward


Matt Freedman's Golem at Valentine
The Golem of Ridgewood:
Matt Freedman at Valentine

The Illusion of Democracy:
Charles Atlas at Luhring-Augustine


Two shows that opened last Friday night in Brooklyn could not have been more different in style and temperament. The premier opening of Luhring-Augustine in Bushwick was a packed affair that featured a dazzling light show on the cutting edge of conceptual art.

The low-key affair at Valentine a bit farther out on the Brooklyn art belt, was an eccentric exhibition of thickly modeled sculpture and curious "artifacts" concerning thousands of years of occult history.

And yet there is a salient theme in each of these shows: real estate.

Charles Atlas, The Illusion of Democracy, Luhring-Augustine
In 2002 the artist Matt Freedman bought an old synagogue in Ridgewood and converted it into a living and working space. From this event flows his show at Valentine, in which Freedman exhibits a “half-degraded film” said to be from the early 1940s, along with other “props and artifacts” allegedly discovered in the building. These objects are said to document the efforts of the local rabbi to “build a golem” to defend his congregation against the local German-American Nazi bund.



Hence The Golem of Ridgewood, a work of historical imagination, augmented with sculptures by Freedman that embody all the weirdness and wonder you’d expect from the innards of any old church or temple in Brooklyn or Queens. Among the objects on view is a rather mottled scale model of the synagogue itself.

Matt Freedman, The Golem of Ridgewood
8mm film segment, Valentine

Matt Freedman, sculpture at Valentine

Not quite so mysterious a transaction was the purchase of a fine old factory in Bushwick by the Chelsea gallery Luhring-Augustine for several million dollars about a year ago. This has been no news to the local art scene, and the curators have obliged everyone’s curiosity by launching their new space with a show that does the most to highlight what everyone is really interested in — the space itself. That is, there are no objects in the room, only light projections by the artist Charles Atlas. The projections are of numbers, numerals, in various states of animation. See the James Kalm video of the show.

Charles Atlas, The Illusion of Democracy
courtesy of Luhring-Augustine

Luhring-Augustine at the corner of Ingraham Street and
Knickerbocker Avenue, East Williamsburg/"Bushwick"

The inside of the building has been sweepingly renovated, the outside is left basically as it is. And since the show consists only of projected light, the cumulative effect is of the building itself as the featured work, framed, so to speak, between a skim of light and the fact of its renovation. The artist, Charles Atlas, comes from that generation of conceptual artists for whom anything could be art “if I say so.” Whether it is or is not “art” is a matter of judgment, but it is definitely no longer a balloon factory or a chicken farm or whatever the place used to be.

Congregation Agudas Israel on Cornelia Street Ridgewood, Queens.
presently owned by artist Matt Freedman.

Had Fred Valentine of Valentine in Ridgewood curated this show at Luhring-Augustine in Bushwick, the building would still be a chicken farm, albeit in some weirdly excavated form. The difference between excavation and renovation underscores the difference between these two shows, each of which involves a different response to real estate. At Valentine, the acquisition of a synagogue a few blocks away from the gallery is cause for an immersion into occult reverie. At Luhring-Augustine, at least for the moment, it all seems to be about the numbers.

Charles Atlas, The Illusion of Democracy
Feb. 18 - May 20, 2012
Luhring-Augustine Bushwick
Video of the show by James Kalm

Matt Freedman, The Golem of Ridgewood
Open Saturdays and Sundays 1-6 PM and by appointment on Fridays
Valentine