The extraordinary Jackie Gendel, the latest in a talented parade of young Yale MFAs whom we shamelessly collect and promote, including Alison Davies, Melissa Brown, Laurel Nakadate, Iona Rozeal Brown and Ellen Altfest, is featured in a show at White Columns through Dec. 1.
There are other artists in the show, but the curators have thoughtfully hung Jackie's opus on the front wall, so that all one has to do is walk in the door, turn right, drink in her essence, and split.
Jackie first burst on the scene two years ago, when a fellow named Joe opened a Williamsburg gallery in her honor, slapped her photograph on the cover of his catalogue and purchased Tom Friedman's seminal Fly and a painting by Jackie's favorite artist Stuart Davis at auction to "give Jackie's work the proper context."
Roberta Smith favorably reviewed the show, whereupon the gallery promptly closed under apparent strain, financial and psychological.
Jackie recovered by talking her band on tour (she plays bass) to Montauk, New Haven, New Orleans, her native Houston and a regular gig at Brownie's in Manhattan, playing the strong pop hooks she composes from her Queens perch.
She also invented her friend Brenda the Class Slut for www.gurl.com, the basis for her current show.
Cunningly etched in luscious, touchable beeswax, Jackie's style crosses Jasper Johns with Ludwig Bemelmans, creator of Madeleine, immortalized in the Bemelmans Bar of the Carlyle Hotel.
Saucy insouciance, unencumbered by grim irony or guilt, ripples through Jackie's sexy chiquitas, bashful boys and blank cartoon balloons. One is tempted to dub her "Jackie Johns," though Gendel is her name, and rub a finger underneath her waxy edge.
But just step back, and visually take in her edgy wax. Her wit is dry, her fingers fast and Jackie's work is made to last. Hooray!
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).
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