Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / “A Painting is a Real Thing,” the Parrish Museum’s current exhibition of the work of the Abstract Expressionist painter James Brooks (1906–1992), is his first comprehensive retrospective in 35 years. On the rare occasions I’ve encountered Brooks’s paintings, I’ve paid them scant attention. Like many, I have walked on by, presumptively ranking him well below the likes of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko. With this survey of more than 100 paintings, drawings, and prints, I find myself reconsidering Brooks’s status. With the 176-page catalog containing essays by adjunct curator Klaus Ottmann and artist-writer Michael Solomon, the show makes a case that Brooks’s art is more original and important – both within and beyond the context of the AbEx movement – than most of us thought.