25 hours in New York: Jenny Zoe Casey

Guest contributor Jenny Zoe Casey (Orlando, FL) / Art critic Jerry Salz says that “vampires need to be with vampires.” With this vivid advice in mind, I planned my late January hit-and-run to NYC.

It began at the Newark International Airport mid-day Monday, after some creative re-routing for reasons I won’t go into. I headed straight for a printmaking workshop run by Fumiko Toda, a wonderful artist who shows with Susan Eley Fine Art and whose work I had seen online. At the workshop, I created several monotypes and experienced a heady mix of nostalgia for art school, some challenges a little out of my comfort zone, and an atmosphere of collaboration and camaraderie. I was thrilled; I love printmaking and share an interest with Toda in combining narrative and abstraction.

[Image at top: Jenny Zoe Casey, Venn, 2012, oil on panel, 18 x 18 inches.]

Toda’s The Moon and the Sun (above) is currently on view in “The Tall Tale: Folk, Fantasy & Fear in Art of the Fairy Tale,” a group show at Susan Eley Fine Art that runs through Feb. 28.

In the past, I’ve kept my trips to just about six hours in the city, but this time I was in town for 25 hours, which meant that Tuesday began bright and early with a tour of artist Apryl Miller’s “permanent installation,” the amazing tour de force that is her home (image below). Every surface in every room has been carefully (indeed exhaustively) considered, wrought according to a complex set of rules and values, and graced with her appreciable gift for color, design, and pattern. Although many of stereotypes associated with outsider art do not apply � Apryl is not disenfranchised, poor, institutionalized, or uneducated � the obsessive nature of her work, to my mind, fits well in that sphere.

For lunch, I met my friend (and publisher!) Sharon Butler for lunch. We ate bagels at Lenny’s, traded a few war stories, and talked art for an hour as she graciously took time out from blogging and grant applications.

 Detail of the installation at ISE.

Afterward, I headed for the Lower East Side, where I visited the ISE Cultural Foundation Gallery, a non-profit that provides emerging or under-represented artists and curators with opportunities to exhibit in New York. I wasn’t disappointed; I especially enjoyed “Shifting Space,” a collaborative site-specific installation located in the gallery’s Front Space. Curated by Lisbeth Murray, “Shifting Space” was created by artists Lisa Pressman and Krista Svalbonas. An integrated wall drawing that incorporates distressed, lovely, two-dimensional mixed media paintings made on industrial insulation materials, and draws on Soho facades for its palette, it references location-specific architectural forms and the temporality of New York urban landscapes while establishing a dialog between exterior and interior spaces.

To cap off the day, I headed to Chelsea to visit my two touchstones, the DC Moore and Winkleman galleries.

Work by octogenarian painter Yvonne Jacquette was on view at DC Moore. Jacquette is well-known for her nocturnal city views, often from an aerial perspective. The show included an impressive range of work, with some very appealing smaller paintings of Colorado hills; lush, beautifully-drawn pastels; and several collages made of torn digitally printed paper arranged to create a coherent image made of non-linear angled views and changing perspectives. I found the collages especially inspiring and interesting because they represent a mature artist’s impressive drive to learn, experiment, and embrace new technologies.

Yvonne Jacquette, Siena Composite with Cypress, Collage, 2012, archival digital print, collaged
27 x 38 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and DC Moore Gallery.

I love the Winkleman Gallery because I always find the exhibits there to be interesting, intelligent, and thought-provoking. The Wayland Rudd Collection, on view in the main space through February 15, is all of these things. A collaborative project organized by Yevgeniy Fiks, it is an exemplar of expanded practice. Fiks, a Russian-American artist who grew up in the Soviet Union, has collected over 200 images of Africans and African-Americans as created and presented by the Soviet Union, spanning most of the 20th century. For the exhibit, he invited contemporary artists and academics to respond in some way to one or more images from his collection.

The piece that stood out for me was an installation (pictured above) by artist Maria Buyondo, born in Moscow and now based in New York. The installation includes a white, ruffled pinafore (a girl’s school uniform); a video of the artist as an adult, reciting Pushkin in Russian from memory; and facing the video, an old school photo showing a group of straight-backed, uniformed children, the girls in the same pinafore. In the very center of the photo, noticeably taller than the others, is a single girl of African descent amongst a sea of pale Slavic faces. The photo is thus a stark emblem of the experience of difference.

After Winkleman, it was time to head to Penn Station, hop on the LIRR, and make my way to JFK. I’d met some wonderful people and seen some terrific art, and I had plenty to think about on my way back to Florida.

Related posts:
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Inaugural exhibition: Against the Tide (2011)


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