"Beautiful You," Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2001, curated by Larry Krone at Mark Pasek Gallery, 122 Suffolk Street, New York, N.Y. 10002.
Far from the madding crowd in Chelsea, at the humble corner of Rivington and Suffolk Streets on the Lower East Side, sits the Mark Pasek Gallery. There, the fall art season began with an exhibition called "Beautiful You," organized by the artist and Country Music entertainer par excellence Larry Krone. The artists are Olivia Boudet, Hilda Daniel, George Horner, Elisabeth Kley, Leslie Laskey, Omar Lopez-Chahoud and John Rand.
The works aren't about the search for beauty per se, but rather its accidental appearance as a kind of by-product alongside an earnest devotion to a personal vision. The art here is unworldly, with a handmade feel. The reigning sentiment is tenderness and vulnerabilty.
Omar Lopez-Chahoud has contributed two wall installations to the show, the first consisting of a cluster of found pieces and the second being his own drawings. In the former, the small, found scraps of finely hand-embroidered material in pastel-colored floral configurations seem gently elegaic. The artist's own delicate pencil drawings, which are similarly grouped on the opposite wall, are visually and conceptually astute but still appear vincible.
This balance between vulnerability and detachment also appears in Hilda Daniel's deliberately low-tech My Funny Valentine, a three-part mixed-media piece. Its components include video and audio: the video is shot with a Fisher Price Pixel-2000 camera and is of a mechanical bug continually crawling back and forth on black silk; and the audiotape combines the panting and scraping sounds of the bug with a looped segment of Kim Novak singing My Funny Valentine from the movie Pal Joey. At its center is a burnt-out camera body revolving in a battered accordion case against the backdrop of its worn red lining, a formalist structure conveying a forlorn attempt to generate life into what is essentially an inanimate piece of discarded junk.
Elisabeth Kley, who showed hallucinogenic black-ink portraits of Salvador Dalí earlier this year at Goldsworthy Gallery in West Chelsea, contributes here some awkwardly endearing ceramic sculptures. In Butterfly Towers, four blocklike forms glazed primarily in white with black metallic trim look like small buildings festooned with bows and butterfly wings. They stand as if poised to topple, yet remain heartbreakingly defiant.
A sense of elegant desolation appears in the minimal landscape paintings of Olivia Boudet. In Untitled, gray mountains fade into a pink sky with little fanfare. And Leslie Laskey's computer-generated reproductions of his own drawings successfully drain the images of flowers of their innate sentimentality and replace it with a hands-off sense of disconnection.
It's hard not to respond to "Beautiful You" in light of the recent political trauma. The human frailty that is so purposelessly purveyed speaks to the collective psychology of the moment, as well as to the nature of individual self-perception and expression. Beauty, "Beautiful You" reminds us, is very much in the eye of the creator, as well as the beholder.