New York trip: Chelsea galleries / Ippudo noodle bar East Village

Delta Air Terminal JFK airport, Queens, New York

Howard Beach station - JFK Airtrain

Chelsea Market Halloween display

Wicked Witch - Chelsea Market Halloween display

I had two different seafood soups at the Chelsea market in the Meatpacking District to give me the energy I would need for a full Friday of viewing art shows. I would take notes and use my iphone 4 to document some of the most interesting works I would see over the next three days in New York City. While I ate a group of students were being guided by their teacher through the market, with their next stop being Steven Vitello’s sound work on the Highline elevated park, which was just outside of the market.

Jeffrey, the luxury shopping store in the Meatpacking District

My first stop in Chelsea was at Murray Guy gallery.

An-My Lê had a show of her photographs at the gallery.

She is a professional documentary and art photographer who was a political refugee in Vietnam. I thought about her faux and real documents of the memory of the Vietnam War, and was touched by the sense of nostalgia the artist was conveying through photographing the space where her memories were born, but well after they time they were formed. She has appeared on Art 21. Her works is informed by the documentary tradition of Yale trained photographers, such as Philip Lorca di Corcia,  as well as the fabricators of reality such as Gregory Crewdson. As it turned out, MoMA also had a large video projection exhibition that dealt with the Vietnam War  from the perspective of its citizens who had lived through it carnage.

“In 1999 Lê began working with Vietnam War reenactors in North Carolina who restage battles as well as the training and daily life of soldiers—both Viet Cong and American GIs. For four summers, she not only photographed but also participated in battles of the Vietnam War restaged on her adopted American soil. Relating to both documentary and staged photography, the work is aesthetically rigorous and conceptually challenging. Soldiers at rest give themselves up to portraiture, while battle compositions recognizable from classic war photojournalism have the qualities of a dream. Most recently, Lê has photographed exercises performed by the U.S. military in the American desert in preparation for maneuvers in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Aperture Foundation, New York

An-my Lê's photograph of a soldier contemplating the sea from aboard his ship

Hollywood in Manhattan: The ICM building in Chelsea - designed by Frank Gehry

luxury condo tower in Chelsea

a playful sculpture in Chelsea

The Bortolami gallery’s début show was on this weekend. I enjoyed this show because of its presentation of both eclectic and personal work, with a refined sensibility. There were paintings, collages, photography and sculptures, each with a strong capacity for revelation. The gallery now has 6,200 square feet spread over two spaces.

“The floors and the ceilings, we kept them rough. It’s a space which is a lot more challenging [for the artists to work with],” Bortolami says. “And I like that. I like the idea of, in a way, giving less of a beautiful space for art so that art is forced to speak louder.” Art in America, online, October 2010


Bortolami 2

Bortolami 3

Bortolami 4

Bortolami 5

Sue Williams at 303 gallery

Sue Williams painting installation

Below is the New York Times review of Sue Williams show. I note that Roberta Smith’s assessment of this exhibition aligns with my own. Sue Williams is also among a growing number of artists who have left more powerful gallery relationships.

The New York Times

October 22, 2010

Sue Williams: ‘Al-Qaeda Is the CIA’


303 Gallery

547 West 21st Street


Through Saturday

Since no museum has given Sue Williams the survey she deserves, 303, to which she has returned after a five-year hiatus at the David Zwirner Gallery, has done the deed. Or at least it has allowed the artist Nate Lowman, working with Ms. Williams, to do it.

Together they have covered a lot of ground in a then-and-now weaving together of work that emphasizes Ms. Williams’s skills as a satirist, and her innate and continuing predilection for political incorrectness — from her early take-no-prisoners dissection of misogyny, which was almost as hard on women as it was on men, to her more subjective conviction that, as the show’s title puts it, “Al-Qaeda Is the CIA.” In the middle of it is a refusal to make nice with the tradition of all-over abstraction, one of the cardinal principles of the Abstract Expressionist.

The installation alternates between Ms. Williams’s rough-surfaced black-and-white paintings from the early 1990s, with their often hilarious excoriations of men’s inhumanity to women, and her more recent luridly colored, sleek-surfaced semi-abstractions, which are composed mostly of thinly disguised bodies, body parts, internal organs or bodily fluids and substances.

There are large paintings, like the “Two Greens With Sable” from 2002, which is as close as she comes to pure abstraction, and a cluster of small oil studies that showcase her skill at riffing on the body and the comedy of anguish it can inspire.

The effect is exhilarating, and the jarring juxtapositions of earlier and later works make a larger statement about the challenge Ms. Williams faces: to find some further middle ground between the rough and the sleek, and the excoriating and the all-over, by becoming less of a satirist and more of a painter. Judging by the bracing show that she and Mr. Lowman have arranged, she may already know this. ROBERTA SMITH

A large orange and black painting by Sue Williams

Sue Williams at her most painterly, and for me, her most engaging and complex work in this show.

Sue Williams, another painting installation in her excellent show.

Sue Williams paintings flanking a Sue Williams joke painting

Sarah Sze has a show up at her near dealer, Tanya Bonakdar. The press release notes that this is Sze’s first show in New York in over 5 years. I remember Sze going though a period of being in such demand that she had three monographs published on her work, yet she refused commercial gallery representation. Her work has a special fascination for me – in that she is able to display the range of her imagination with patterns and systems of organization that lead to both utterly strange and enigmatic and phenomenal sculptural wonders. Her work never falters in terms of craft or experimentation. Her way or working seems to reveal itself while being a wonder to behold. It is both an archive, a repository, while at once being a mapping system of her seemingly infinite imagination. There is a level of complexity to her working methods and the sculptural elements in which she causes to explode fully realized into the world. Her world also broke free of the sterilized text and image art that was still in fashion in the late 1990’s. Her works anticipates that of both LA artists Elliot Huntley and Mark Bradford, both of whom also use a seemingly free form style of mapping system to produce their multi-dimensional, large-scale, multi-layered works.

Sarah Sze sculpture installation

Sarah Sze 2

Sarah Sze 3

Sarah Sze 5

Sarah Sze 6

There seems to be a strong focus on sculpture in the gallery shows I’ve chosen to document. I found out that Judy Pfaff, whose show I photographed for this blog report, was one of Sarah Sze’s teachers. Pfaff was a hot artist during the 1980’s when she showed at the Holly Solomon gallery in Soho. Pfaff had a great show on that need more breathing space for her awesome sculptural wonders at Ameringer Yohe in Chelsea.

Judy Pfaff 1

Judy Pfaff 2

Judy Pfaff 3

Judy Pfaff 4

Comme de Garcon store entrance

Cue Foundation - New York City

Sculpture at the Cue Foundation

Thomas Lawson painting, Cue Foundation New York

Marc Newson's stunning, mythical sculpture of an aircraft at Gagosian Chelsea was one of the most dramatic works I've ever encountered.

It seemed as if every person who came to see the show took photographs of the work.

Marc Newson's mind bending, breathtaking sculptural installation

interior of nose cone of space shuttle craft designed by Marc Newson

1999 experimental Ford designed by Marc Newson

Jean Michel Basquiat silkscreen on canvas – Return of the Central Figure – at the Robert Miller gallery

Robert Mapplethorpe sculpture installation - Untitled "Altarpiece" from 1970 at Robert Miller gallery

Sculptor Mayumi Terada at Robert Miller gallery

Terada's sculpture of a bed and chair, white sculpture on white marble

Terada's bathtub in glass vitrine, Robert Miller gallery NewYork

Dalen Colen’s show at Gagosian was hyped as being the most important upcoming show of the 2010 fall art season in New York. Colen appeared in Interview magazine. Colen was written about as being a cut above by the New York Times, who was also giddy about the possibilities of what Colen would show. By now everyone knows that Colen’s show was ripped to shreds by the critics and the artworld in New York. What surprised me about the show was how so much of it was about a certain kind of arrogant posturing and gesture. This was supposedly Colen’s first one person show in 7 years.  The show seemed lazy and relied upon it being expensive to produce – from the gigantic brick wall in the first gallery, to the row of tipped over motorcycles in the next massive gallery space. That British Australian design god Marc Newson also had a show at Gagosian downtown, and that this show was astonishing in its vision and presentation of a fictional craft as a form of UFO planet that had landed wholly polished in the vast gallery space – well, this caused an obvious point of comparison between the two creative figures. One of them soared to the heavens, the other made me wonder did this artist realize that this was the opportunity of a lifetime that he had let walk away.

Dan Colen's tipped motorcycles and large-scale painting at Gagosian

Dan Colen's skate park as sculpture, complete with bike skid marks underneath

One of Dan Colen's gum paintings

my meal at Ippudo noodle bar in the East Village was amazing.

Ippudo noodle bar is a 35 restaurant chain in Japan, by the most famous ramen noodle master in that country. It is a true gastropub; as it serves sake, Japanese beers. It has a full complement of Japanese pub food of the highest quality I’ve ever eaten, and at once it would rank with the top sushi bars in Los Angeles. I have been to Ramen Jinya in Studio City several times since it opened. It’s best ramen noodle soups are a match for those at Ippudo. Ramen’s Jinya feels as if it were lifted whole from Tokyo. It makes its own noodles and they are twice as thick as those at Ippudo. But Ippudo leaves no doubt about its overall experience being far greater than what can be had in LA now. All I can say is make sure you order the chicken wings at Ippodu. I was fortunate to be able to be seated about 20 minutes after I arrived, at about 10:20PM on Saturday night. Others who arrived in groups after me were told of two-hour wants and left. Ippudo also has a small bar whose closest twin in Los Angeles would be the Salaryman bar at Umami Burger in Los Feliz in LA, which serves the best dry-aged beef burgers in Los Angeles. Ippudo’s greeters are loud and boisterous. It’s a fun and friendly place. It would surely raise the bar in LA should it ever decide to expand to Los Angeles, which is being bombarded with thousands of awful unbelievably low-grade fast food outlets. I would not call them restaurants as that would defame the civilization that actually invented the restaurant – which is France. Ramen Jinya is part of a restaurant chain from Japan. They reportedly will be bringing 4 or 5 more restaurants to LA. Now in Los Angeles we only have to wait for Red Medicine – the upscale Vietnamese noodle bar from former French Laundry chefs, opening later this year, and Lukshon, the Asian foodie soon-to-be-sensation that is taking forever to open in Culver City, by the owner of Father’s Office – the coolest real bar and burger palace in the middle of LA.

Ippudo, 65 4th Avenue (East Village) New York City

Cedar Lake dance company, New York City. It's one of the few dance company's in the U.S. with a full 52 week salary for its dancers. It's the dream of one of the heirs of Wal-Mart

All photographs by Vincent Johnson using his iphone 4

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Dreams of Technology: Water to Land by Vincent Johnson. 30x40 inch photomontage/Lightjet print (2010). This work will be shown at the Kellogg museum at Cal Poly Pomona starting in November, 2010

Dreams of Technology by Vincent Johnson. 30x40 inch photomontage/Lightjet print (2010). This work will be shown at the Kellogg museum at Cal Poly Pomona starting in November, 2010

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist.

The USA site went live on December 7, 2010

My initial project is to fabricate a 3 foot tall doll house sized sculpture of the collapsed William Livingstone House in Detroit. The project description and a video presentation of the project are at the links provided here:
Please feel free to review the site and to contact others who would be interesting in supporting the program and my project.
thanks so much
Vincent Johnson
Los Angeles, California
cell: 818:430.1604
Biography October 2010
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona, an exhibition at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a show in Copenhagen, and a second one person show at Las Cienegas Projects in Los Angeles.

Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. He studied with Mike Kelly, Jack Goldstein, Stephen Prina, Liz Larner, Chris Williams, Mayo Thompson (formerly of Art&Language), and Liz Larner. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Vincent  Johnson Artist Statement

Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.

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