Saturday, June 11, 2011

Art gallery hopping in New York City, 21st Street

Recently me and two friends from the art world spent a few hours looking at mostly contemporary art in galleries along 21st Street in Chelsea, NYC. It was an interesting experience. Variable impressions, many types of media and like a long entertainment event for the brain. Here are works of some of the artists we saw, with my very personal, and non-artsy comments.  I didn't know any of the artists from before so this was really fun, like a new world that opens up. The photos are linked from Flickr (Vilsekogen) so you can click on them and see larger versions.

Ellen Koi photos

Ellen Koi: Seen at the PPOW gallery. Ellen's giant photos are gorgeous, and something you can look at for a long time. Each one is slightly mystical, tells a story, but you don't know exactly which one.  Like this one, probably from a seashore in Holland, where a family is out maybe digging for clams in the dawn, or maybe looking for something else.  The photos are staged, but they are also very natural. I love these. More of Ellen's art here.

Amy Jean Porter

Amy Jean Porter:  I have been looking for art that includes weeds, such as dandelions in this painting.  Otherwise Amy's art is a bit to simplistic for me, even if she builds a lot on old historical storybook drawings which I love (such as Elsa Beskow, John Bauer, etc.). But she has weeds in her art! (Which is a good thing.) More of Amy's art here.

Jessica Rohrer painting: book shelf

Jessica Rohrer. Painting exhibit at PPOW gallery. It was very hard to find information about Jessica Rohrer online, but she has refreshing paintings of everyday objects (an open fridge, a shelf with household cleaning supplies, cars, etc.).  A painting like this can tell you a lot just with the selection of books on the shelves...

Mary Frank: Wood sculpture and drawing exhibit at DC Moore gallery. I don't have a photo of Mary Frank's amazing wooden sculptures, but click on the DC Moore link and you can see some of them at the gallery. She made these over 40 years ago, and their dark wood, organic shapes and half-formed figures remind me of smooth ocean stones, driftwood, Picasso, and Dali all at the same time. 

Clifford Ross: Landscape to imagination exhibit at Sonnabend Gallery. Clifford Ross' digital video movie installation of a photograph of a mountain transformed into a myriad of swooping color and black and white photo pieces was simply STUNNING.  I wish it was available online so you could all see this 5 min movie. Philip Glass provided the music, and a prime example of a kind of movie/art/photo installation you could never have done before, because you need computing power and giant hardware storage.  But I liked it not because of the technological feat but just because it was natural, artificial, and beautiful, all at the same time.   One large prints from the movie sells for $30,000.

"Academy Award winner Philip Glass composed Harmonium Mountain to accompany the Clifford Ross film of the same name. The groundbreaking animated film presents an imaginary landscape of colorful, animated elements derived entirely from one high-resolution photographic image of Colorado's Mount Sopris, the latest step in Ross' exploration of objective reality and subjective experience." (link to source,

Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns: Sculpture and prints at Matthew Marks Gallery. 
I guess I should have heard about Jasper Johns because he is one of America's most famous artists.  But me, I stay mostly in scientific worlds, and never took an art class since 9th grade (I still love art though).   These giant metal sculptures of numbers are impressive - and immediately made me think about old typography techniques and industrial and publishing history.  To take something common and enlarge and blow it up, gives it such a new perspective.  Here my thought was: "Oh my god, those number 3's have gorgeous shapes, and we don't get that anymore with our laserprinted Word documents."  I love when art makes you create new connections in your brain, especially between emotion, facts, and history. So I loved, loved these.
"One of Johns’ best known series is his numbers works. Using the numbers zero through nine, the artist has revisited the classic grid with an exhibition of relief sculptures at Matthew Marks. A perfect example of his obsession with creating something, refining it, and doing something else to it, Johns has produced these pieces in bronze, aluminum, and silver, each with a unique patina. They are on their own pedestal display, allowing us to view both front and back."  (link to source here)

Wolf Kahn: More artwork here. Interesting paintings by Wolf Kahn, famous for his massive colors and giant paintings.  Maybe not what you want to have in your living room, unless you have a white-painted sparse living room with nothing else in it.  It would easily become a bit overpowering.  Still, the aspen (?) forest he had in this exhibit reminds me of early spring in Sweden, with sunset colors on purple-colored snow in the forest shadows.  I guess it was just too much of the good thing (color) for me.

"If we lived in a small town we wouldn't have cultural opportunities like this"
Urban Street Art.... The bubble says: "If we lived in a small town we wouldn't have cultural opportunities like this."  So true. That is why I like to visit New York City now and then, but not live there, ever again.   I don't know who the artist is, but Simpsons is an obvious influence. 

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