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by Walter Robinson
|Did somebody say ... summer? As temperatures in New York soar into the 90s, the town empties out faster than a tube of pink paint in de Kooning's studio. The Hamptons beckon, as do Tuscany and the south of France. Any gallery with good sense -- including most of the uptown ones -- has already gone to summer hours, which means they're closed weekends.
Still, the art critic's duty is never done -- though the heat can't help but affect one's esthetic sensibility. The art just feels different in the summer. Uptown at Bonni Benrubi Gallery on East 76th Street, for instance, the shadowy photographs of highway vistas, hotel rooms and lonely houses by Rocky Schenk look baked into the emulsion with burnt cork. They're probably meant to be sad -- the series of 16 x 23 in. toned gelatin silver prints is titled "Solitudes" -- but with the hot weather they look radioactive. They're priced in the $1,500-$2,500 range, in an edition of 10.
Invisible rays fill the Andrea Rosen Gallery in Chelsea, too -- microwaves, courtesy surveillance artist Julia Scher. Titled "Ameratherm Ultra Cooking Lab," the show includes 12 microwaves, a fridge, surveillance equipment, a lifesize rotating platform and a video projection. The microwaves hold electronic components -- minicams and monitors taping the audience -- or pink plastic figures of naked people, like homemade Barbies and Kens done in wax gelatin, crazy glue and wood chips (or popcorn, when Scher is there, entertaining visitors). My favorite, the small oven with a row of male familiars called Amertherm Microwave #8 (GE), is $3,500. A t-shirt commemorating the show that reads "Danger, Dirty Data" is $20. Oh those rays.
The entire world is on fire over at UCU -- Universal Concepts Unlimited, the gallery opened a few months ago on West 24th Street by former Ace gallery director Marian Ziola -- where the environmental theory-artist Ingo Gunther has installed "Exo/Sphere," an exhibition featuring two floor-to-ceiling semi-spherical grids very cleverly made of electrical conduit, upon which are projected video montages of images designed to "depict a spectrum of statistical facts."
It gives the big picture, all right, especially the apocalyptic world-is-on-fire parts. Gunther has recently completed a high-tech version of this piece, with some 80 rotating globes, inside the lobby of Volkswagen headquarters in the Wolfsburg auto park.
Finally, down at American Fine Arts in SoHo, the summer show features Art Brut figures made of brightly colored felt and performing vulgar acts by Jess Holzworth. There is a set of 100 little ones, maybe 3 x 5 in. each, that the artist calls "Perverts" but look like sunbathers burnt to a crisp -- some of them, anyway. They're only $80 each!
All this talk of temperature makes me think of … Iceland? At the opening of "Between Grains of Sand and Microchips," a show of glass art on view at Silverstein Gallery on West 21st Street through July 8, your columnist made the acquaintance of Jordis Arnadottir, an Icelander who now lives in New York and who had made a large dog-house out of what looked like plate glass (okay, it was plastic). Stuck to one side were a couple of transparencies of Iceland's cloud-enveloped mountain peaks. "What I'd really like," said the artist, "would be to pose for a picture inside the house." No problem.
Other glass-makers in the show include Lynda Benglis, Howard Ben Tre, Yoko Ono, Robin Winters and Kiki Smith, whose assortment of toy-sized glass stars and mice sitting on the floor was valuable enough to require a guard to keep an eye on them.
What else do we want in the summer? Cool water. Los Angeles artist Glenn Kaino has installed 22 miniature wave machines on the big diagonal wall that cuts through the gallery space at Venetia Kapernekas Fine Arts. They sway back and forth in hypnotic blue synchronicity, and can be yours for $12,000. Kaino is multi-talented; he co-founded the L.A. exhibition space Deep River, is creative director of Farmclub.com and the writer of Objective 5, a comic book. Also very good looking.
With the blue water we need blue sky, for which there's John Kalymnios at Caren Golden Fine Art on the second floor of the Chelsea Arts Building on West 26th Street. He places cibachromes of blue skies behind two-inch thick plastic slabs for a minimalist monochrome that's very Donald Judd. Golden has a set of four, titled Gradations, that's priced at $8,500. Kalymnios, a British artist who lives in New York, also makes kinetic machines that shuffle images of sky or waves, and was included in Harry Philbrick's "annual" at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, Conn., last spring.
And how about some sand? In weather like this, the colored sand in Jeff Perrone's patterned abstraction just jumps out at you. Beach! The work is in "Opulent," the summer group show at Cheim & Read. Perrone has been better known for his ceramics, and way back when he wrote a little art criticism.
Beach scenes are hot, too. At Greene Naftali, in the summer group show called "Kool Aid," all the delicate pastel watercolors by L.A. artist David Korty are sold, including one of the beach and another of the city dump. The small ones are $400 and the four-foot-square ones 10 times that. "People like pretty pastel pictures in the summer," said writer Bennett Simpson.
Or how about some pictures of resort life -- condos with ocean views, the kids happily playing on the rug, the young honeymooners in their suite. Last we looked, Clementine Gallery had sold five of the eight color photos by Peter Freitag, who takes images from travel brochures and digitally erases all the props from the picture. Makes for minimal living, but it's still the beach. They're $1,000 each in editions of three.
Listings: Everyone loves the charming "Peaceable Kingdom" drawings and paintings by Ellen Berkenblit on view at Anton Kern on Broadway in SoHo. Cats, bears, horses and a woman that looks suspiciously like the artist herself commune in a world rendered in Abstract Expressionist strokes. Prices begin at $1,200 for small drawings; paintings are $4,500.
Don't miss the new paintings by Artnet Magazine columnist Michael Brennan on view at Lucas Schoormans on West 26th Street, a show called "Color of the Sun," to July 15... William Kentridge at Marian Goodman Gallery, May 30-July 14, showing his pilgrimage sculptures that were on view last month at Stephen Friedman in London... Vargas-Suarez Universal at Thomas Erben Gallery on West 20th, with a room installation that includes framed drawings in blue ballpoint pen -- a lovely color -- and chairs to sit on, always a plus.
German artist Günther Förg has three huge formalist abstractions on view at Luhring Augustine to July 28, the smallest measuring over 14 feet long. Besides being lovely, they're named after parts of our town -- Coney Island, Williamsburg, Washington Square... John Ahearn shows more plaster-cast portraits of his neighbors from East 100th Street at Alexander and Bonin, to July 28. The beauty of the people shines through, as always with Ahearn's work -- and he has a couple goofy self-portraits, one while flossing his teeth, a nice comic touch. Price range is $7,500-$18,000.
Work by Whitney Biennial 2000 vet Vik Muniz is selling like hotcakes at Ubu on East 78th Street. Buyers snapped up at least 80 works from the artist's series of fake magazine and newspaper clippings, with headlines like "Pop-Up Classics Ulysses for Preschoolers" and "Prado Museum Goes Online, Closes Doors Indefinitely," selling for $600 each. Muniz's jewel-like paintings of snapshots selling well too, at $3,000 each.
Speaking of the Biennial, buyer of E.V. Day's exploded ball gown was British mega-collector Charles Saatchi. Word is that he paid $35,000.
Duotone paintings by Jason Young at Cristinerose Gallery, groovy biomorphic abstractions reminiscent of early Jack Youngerfield but done in shiny plastic resin, are selling briskly at $8,000-$16,000. "People just have to go up to the paintings and look real close," said gallery director Mariacristina Parravicini.
Veteran bleeding-edge art dealer Kenny Schachter, who dubs his peripatetic gallery space Rove, opened up a space in London for a few months -- and got beat up and robbed for his trouble. After debuting a group show, May 12-June 17, at a temporary space at 107 Shoreditch High Street near White Cube II with works by Lisa Ruyter, Malcolm McLaren, Amy Globus, Robert Chambers and others, the hapless Schachter was assaulted by two thugs with knives who stole his laptop with five years of material, a telephone and a $4,000 video camera shooting streaming video of the installation. "They kept calling me 'White Prince, White Prince'!" said an alarmed Schachter. The bruised dealer is back in New York, none the worse for wear.