Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Art Review: The WAH Center Does It Again

Another pretty amazing group show up at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center. This one features a “younger generation” of women born after 1950, up through the end of May. Many highlights, probably as many as last year’s vastly diverse exhibit.

 

Nivi Alroy contributes an intense collection of mixed media, notably a tall (seven-foot) sculpture of a bombed-out house sitting in an upturned dresser drawer, the scorched face of a stuffed rabbit fixing its stare from a second story window. There’s also a rustic woodcut of a collapsing industrial area juxtaposed with a reflection below, a daguerreotype-style view of workers staring at themselves in the water. Andrea Cukier has three green-tinted, stylized medieval Chinese-inflected pondscapes: as with so much of her work, she makes the heat and humidity visceral.

 

Shan Shan Sheng has a number of strikingly colorful, heavy glass sculptures here including an absolutely haunting, orange-tinted undersea scene and a couple of massive bells, one of them abruptly upturned. Bahar Behbahani has both a murky, out-of-focus wallsize umber-tinged portrait of a family staring out from their couch, Arabic calligraphy and musical notes floating overhead, as well as an unsettling 3-D piece, a dense mandala-like figure on a screen a couple of inches above a second, painted level, obscuring more calligraphy and a dead sheep on its back.

 

Even more provocative were a series of bombs (their noses, to be precise, seemingly fashioned from restaurant-sized carbon dioxide canisters) by Leonor Mendoza. Adorned with earrings, peace signs, an animal figurine, lockets, charms, and most ominously, melted green plastic peoploids, they’re poignant and as understated as bombs can be. 

 

Of the best-known artists on display here, Judy Chicago is represented by a trio of black-and-white woodcuts, the earth mother under siege, as well as a sculpture study from The Dinner Party, part of the plate eerily peeling back. There are also prints and a striking, colorful wallsize painted quilt depicting a jazz trio and its unperturbable frontwoman from Faith Ringgold.

 

But the most striking of all the images here was the live installation by Olek (Agata Oleksiak) and Naomi White. They’d positioned a group of people in colorful, full-body knitwear, their faces hidden, lazing around a living room, watching tv, the screen depicting the struggles of someone in an all-white bodysuit, seemingly in a lot of pain and trying to escape. Abu Graib, anybody? Talk about making an impact!

 

Over by the Nivi Alroy section, classical guitarist Margaret Slovak played warmly and virtuosically. You probably won’t get to hear her or be taken in by the Olek/Naomi White installation, but the show is a must-see if you’re in Williamsburg – it’s only a couple of minutes from the J/M stop at Marcy Ave., 135 Broadway on the south side of Williamsburg, about a block past Bedford as you walk toward the water. Hours are Saturday-Sunday noon-6 PM.

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April 28, 2009 Posted by | Art, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Latest Williamsburg Salon Art Club Show

A pleasant reminder that group shows – this one fills two spacious floors at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center – are the ideal lazy person’s way to discover exciting new work. There’s a tantalizing abundance of that here on display through February 24.

Three striking, large oils by the most likely pseudonymous Bienvenido Bones Banez blend 1960s-style psychedelic imagery with South Indian iconography, in a blazingly colorful style that recalls the best concert posters from the Fillmore West. Heads morph into two and three, viens bulge and bones are visible as in an x-ray. The two on display here, Asian and Harlot Playing Beast are an excellent representation. His related solo show runs through Feb 10 at Amarin Café, 617 Manhattan Ave. between Driggs and Nassau in Greenpoint.

One mystery star of the show – there was no indication on the wall who this might be – contributes a dollhouse in the style of an Old West brothel, an action figure sheriff leveling his gun at the back of the oversize doll atop the structure, a sign advertising “Vote for Honest G. W. Bush for Dog-Catcher” affixed to a side wall. There’s also a similar plastic sculpture featuring small plastic doll figures posed somewhat eerily in the windows and on the landing.

The most impressive work on display here is by Argentinian-American Andrea P. Cukier, who’s someone to keep your eye on. The two oils in this show are a good representation of her otherwise powerfully captivating paintings, many of which peer out from the shadows at an illumination whose source is never visible. The two on display here layer white over an obviously meticulously prepared, dark underlayer, perhaps barbwire as seen through a mist.

Lower East Side artist Carla Cubit has two very gripping mixed media sculptures assembled from found objects. The first is West African style, mostly in wood, depicting a widow with her babies, threatened by a spider and lizard. She holds a scroll unwound to a small portion of text: “I am no queen, I sit a widow I kan not walk my journey may end here…”

Brazilian surrealist painter Karla Caprali has three large oils on display. The best shows a woman diving headfirst from what appears to be the roof of the Sistine Chapel into the wild blue yonder of outer space. In another, a Latin woman (possibly the artist herself?) gazes with some trepidation out from behind flowers as jellyfish hover behind her, with an American flag, and then distant industrial towers looming further back.

Jeffrey Berman contributes two brightly sinister, somewhat photorealistic, psychedelic oils. The first depicts a skeleton onstage – at Altamont, maybe? – holding a melting Stratocaster guitar; the second seems to be a scene at a street race, the runners’ faces menacing and distorted, perhaps zombified.

Carol Quint, one of the organizers, is a proponent of recycling and reconstruction. Her sculpture here is macabre, death-obsessed and impossible to turn away from. There’s a skeleton in a lotus position, sitting in a rocking chair, and a skull with markedly messed-up, broken teeth sitting in a chair, with what appear to be fish vertebrae combed over its head like Rudy Giuliani’s hair. The third is a skeleton in a white puffy dress.

Japanese-American surrealist Junichiro Ishida’s complex, somewhat sci-fi oriented oils seem to be loaded with symbols from Asian mythology. On one of his pieces here, a flock of orange fireballs descends against a weird, nocturnal background, with an inscription below: “The world is always burning, burning with the fires of greed, anger and ignorance. One should flee from such dangers.” Another haunting painting is an undersea scene, a couple of fish lazing alongside a submerged skull/sea urchin hybrid.

Sam Jungkurth’s two big oils here are sinister floral tableaux, ominous blue/purple interiors whose only illumination is the flowers themselves, overshadowed by the darkness.

From all indications, Jennifer Herrera is an artist whose style is still developing, but one of her abstract paintings – which looks to be oil over gesso, creating a wrinkled effect – is a striking, somewhat ominous blend of lime green and orange against off-white.

There’s also a particularly creepy color shot by photographer Scott Weingarten – whose solo show here runs March 12-April 30 – superimposing a tree branch over a shot of a misty night in the woods, creating the effect of a ghostly child-face leering out of the background.

The show is on the second and third floor at 135 Broadway (corner of Bedford) in South Williamsburg, J/M/Z to Marcy Ave. or take the B61 bus which runs on south on Driggs toward Brooklyn Heights and on Bedford north through Williamsburg to Long Island City. Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 PM and by appointment, 718-486-7372.

January 21, 2008 Posted by | Art, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments