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Artist's Notebook

Stockholm exchange

Contributed by Kasper Nihlmark / During a two-week trip to New York City from my native Sweden, I had the chance to catch a glimpse of the city’s art scene firsthand. As a sculptor, I was predisposed to wander about sculpture parks and museums. The Pratt Institute’s Sculpture Park, which stretches across its campus in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill, showcases more than 70 works and a wide range of techniques and materials. Notwithstanding its broadly educational purpose, each piece is well-chosen and nicely integrated with the rest. Among the most striking is Nova Mihai Popa’s Ecstasy, a joyful composition of positive and negative shape. 

Solo Shows

Ann Craven’s wistful nighttime tales

Contributed by Natasha Sweeten / As children, we learn that nighttime is for hushed voices, unlit rooms, and the chance to briefly disappear into our dreams. In her latest show “Night” at Karma, Ann Craven fully embraces the enchantment of the wee hours. Her paintings, swathed in darkness, capture quiet moments, and the imagery could easily have been conjured from bedtime stories. Yet they’re not all warm and fuzzy. 


Michael Brennan’s moving images

Two Coats of Paint invited painter Kim Uchiyama to sit down with Michael Brennan to discuss “Floating Weeds,” Brennan’s fourth solo show at Minus Space. In their wide-ranging conversation, they discuss Japanese film, Russell Lee’s photographs, Charles Olson’s poetry, Venetian lagoons, architect Carlo Scarpa, Homer, and more.

Gallery shows

An Italian American colloquy with Joanne Mattera and John Avelluto

On the occasion of “A Legacy of Making: 21 Contemporary Italian American Artists,” a sprawling group show on view at the Calandra Institute through January 12, 2024,  Two Coats of Paint invited John Avelluto, one of the artists in the show, and Joanne Mattera, the mastermind behind the whole project, which began as an online exhibition called “Italianità,” to talk about growing up in Italian families, and how the experience shaped their lives and their work. John currently has a solo exhibition on view at Stand 4 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, too.

Gallery shows

The uppercrust on display in “Wave Pattern”

Contributed by Jacob Patrick Brooks / The lofts of downtown New York occupy a special place in American art history. They functioned most importantly as incubators for Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, eventually giving way to the galleries of the 1980s and 1990s. Today, the spaces once occupied by Barbara Gladstone, Pat Hearn, and Willem de Kooning have been replaced with Uniqlo, Nike, and expansive apartments for the super wealthy. In “Wave Pattern,” a downtown apartment show on the sixth floor of an unassuming Broadway building, art world scions Dylan Brant and Max Werner provide some relief from this cluttered, big-box nightmare. 

Solo Shows

Stephen Whisler: Smoke signals

Contributed by Natasha Sweeten / In Stephen Whisler’s solo show “Past is Prologue” at 325 Project Space, I seem to have stumbled onto an archeologist’s record of discovery, showcasing a vanished world. Three large black-and-white charcoal drawings are straightforward portraits isolating simple, mysterious organic structures. The two cast-iron sculptures strike me as rendering long-lost implements whole again. This work is imbued with a somber sense often associated with scientific research. Yet lurking within is a playfulness, and a tender, vulnerable unraveling.

Solo Shows

Rebecca Morris: Resisting beauty

Contributed by Sharon Butler and Jonathan Stevenson / Rebecca Morris, a masterly abstract painter who could do pretty if she wanted to, insists that when a painting starts to look beautiful she catches herself on and pivots to more discomfiting territory. That kind of grim integrity and its visual realization has an austere appeal, but there’s no need right now to get into the niceties of infinite regress or meta paradox. Judging by her solo show at Bortolami, parsimoniously titled “#31” after the number of solo shows she has presented during her career, Morris does consciously resist the pursuit of visual beauty and representation. The large-scale oil-and-spray-paint works are all untitled, distinguished only by parenthetical number indicating the year and the order in which the paintings were made. Each canvas is replete with vivid color and divergent shapes but embodies an irresolute and disconsolate state of play. This could ramify for a given viewer in any number of ways – though not, presumably, as lovely.


Daniel Giordano’s sculpture: Memory fueled, magically sprouting

Contributed by Kari Adelaide Razdow / Daniel Giordano’s sculptures, some of them currently on view at MassMoCA and Visitor Center in Newburgh, NY, it is possible to decipher a deeply personal language ensconced in forms and symbols. His works defy easy classification while honoring memories that inhabit his industrially tinged studio in Newburgh, NY, once his family’s clothing factory. His freewheeling use of materials and evocative titles suggest a comprehensive embrace of sculpture as a repository of humor, narrative, and poetics, as well as a means of integration and rupture alike. There is a logic underpinning the wild combinations and ambiguous forms in his work. It resonates with echoes from the past and suggestions of the future, like a postcard from someone we have not yet met.

Out of Town

Stockholm’s art scene: Gracefully forward

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / A sense of continuity and integration permeates Stockholm’s grand state museums, its smaller konsthalls, its bountiful old salons, its stylish established galleries, and even its hipster-ish artists’ spaces. Just as consistently, though, contemporary assertiveness challenges tradition. At least on the evidence of an unavoidably incomplete late September visit to the city, the net result is contained vibrancy, exciting and inventive but also richly contextualized and sensibly progressive.

Solo Shows

Ron Linden’s eccentric abstraction

Contributed by Katy Crowe / Ron Linden’s exhibition “re.dux” at 478 Gallery in San Pedro is a welcome introduction to a large body of visually engaging abstract work that invites interpretation. His reductive, conceptual approach has persisted while evolving. Linden’s palette is minimal, mostly ochre and shades of black with, now and then, red oxide and cobalt blue. Included in his tool kit are staples of traditional painting, commercial and scenic art from which he also borrows tricks of the trade, such as forced perspective, stencils, and faux-finish techniques. The show comprises 16 medium-to-large paintings and a dozen smaller ones installed as a single set. They all adhere to his minimal palette, and most are acrylic and charcoal on canvas, just two on paper. 478 Gallery’s generous exhibition space allows for plenty of air between works, and the consistent palette, punctuated by a spot of red oxide here and there, makes for visual coherence.