Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / Understanding the work of the mostly overlooked artist Benjamin Wigfall (1930–2017) requires looking at far more than the art. Over the course of his lifetime he made numerous paintings, assemblages, collages, and prints, a number of which are on display in the large, thoughtfully curated survey exhibition “Ben Wigfall & Communications Village” at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz.
Contributed by Marjorie Welish / There’s formalism and then there is formalism. In his solo show at Bortolami Gallery, Morgan Fisher excels at both. He is faithful to the modernist credo of line, plane, and color synthesized through composition. But he is also intent on making his work serve logical propositions generated from the practice of painting itself. This conceptual formalism is his domain, and it rewards close attention. Fitful likes and dislikes begone!
Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In writer-director John Patton Ford’s grippingly lean and gritty thriller Emily the Criminal, the audience is immediately thrust in scene with Emily Benetto, who works for a caterer without benefits. Absent exposition, she simply seems petulant and put-upon, not unlike many young adults trying to make their way in an increasingly forbidding world. Forced to quit art school, Emily is saddled with $70,000 in debt and no marketable credentials. But thanks to the dark nuance of Aubrey Plaza’s terrific performance and Ford’s crafty screenplay and cold-eyed direction, it remains clear that something ugly and ingrained lurks behind Emily’s immediate circumstances. Despite early appearances, this film is not a didactic contemplation of the false seductions of the middle class in twenty-first-century America, and only incidentally concerns female empowerment. It is centrally about character and how immutable it is or isn’t.
Contributed by Sharon Butler / From November 1 to 6, the Two Coats of Paint Residency Program welcomes Deborah Zlotsky. An abstract painter who teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design, Deborah has developed an idiosyncratic syntax of contours, stripes, planes, and near-trompe l’oeil passages, which inventively probe the intersection of imagined visual language and observational translation.
Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In enlisting the stretcher itself and other materials not customarily used in art as part of a painting’s aesthetic content in addition to the traditional media on the canvas, the avant-garde Supports/Surfaces movement echoed the popular ferment in 1960s and 1970s France that challenged the […]
Brooklyn has several strong shows this month, including Michael Ashkin and Patrick Killoran in “Cul-de-sac” at Cathouse Proper. Their email says the exhibition marks “the beginning of the end for the Cathouse FUNeral /Proper gallery project in its current form. ‘Cul-de-sac’ will be the first in a series of shows scheduled for the 2022-2023 season that will celebrate our ten years of art activity — and six years at 524 Projects — by meditating on cultural memory and its relationship to the art object as we bring the current gallery program to a close in June 2023.” Each week they plan to add a new artist to the show. We’re sorry to see Cathouse close, but look forward to the next iteration. In DUMBO, look for Jane Swavely at AIR and Gabrielle Evertz at Minus Space. On the Upper East Side, Claude Viallat has a series of new paintings on old military tarps at Ceysson & Benetiere. On Canal Street, you can’t miss the new expanded Magenta Plains — it’s the big, freshly-painted black building at the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. Ken Lum, Liza Lacroix, and Chason Matthams each have solos on their own brand new, freshly spackled and painted galleries, one artist per beautiful floor.
Contributed by Bonnie Morano / I’m a numbers person. Some say that’s atypical for an artist. But before I began my MFA in painting at Hunter College, I was in the financial world creating Excel spreadsheets. For the Northeast edition of New American Paintings, the springboard publication for emerging artists, 38 out of the 40 artists selected were representational painters. There were two abstract artists in the group – one painter and one artist who crocheted textiles. They accounted for 5% of the total group. I decided to cross reference this stat with the current MFA student directory at Hunter, 113 artists strong. Of that cohort, 53 chose a concentration in painting when they were accepted. The split between representation and abstraction was almost even. Why then was the New American Paintings finalist selection so skewed towards representation?
Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Tom Bills, for decades primarily a large-scale sculptor, has recently translated that vocation into riveting compact-yet-monumental wall-mounted pieces now on display at 57W57 Arts in midtown Manhattan. Rectangles of modest size, their highly wrought finishes and elliptical narratives invest them with an improbably kinetic presence and stern gravitas that leave the viewer both sobered and assured.
Contributed by Sharon Butler / This month, Open Studio Hudson takes place October 8-9. The annual event, conceived and coordinated by Hudson painter Jane Ehrlich, is a great chance to meet the artists and peek behind the scenes of their workspaces, situated in homes, barns, storefronts, warehouses and other unexpected Hudson area locations. On Saturday, October 8th, at 2pm, Tom Burckhardt will be giving an artist’s talk at The Re Institute in Millerton on the occasion of his expansive solo exhibition.
Contributed by Jenny Zoe Casey / I recently set out on a five-hour solo road trip from Chicago to Newark, Ohio, to see “Material Investment,” a group show opening at The Bank. I anticipated a first-rate exhibition and was not disappointed. Curated by Leslie Roberts, the show features eleven artists: Lisha Bai, Sean Desiree, Tracey Goodman, Ruth Jeyaveeran, Amanda Love, Alex Paik, Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, Vadis Turner, Kevin Umaña, Mandy Cano Villalobos, and Jeff Wallace. As Roberts notes in her curatorial statement, the artists in this show are “dedicated to particular materials, and each artist intently subverts or stretches those materials’ properties and typical forms.”