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Back to Reviews 97

Jean Blackburn's
pitcher at 
Bronwyn Keenan

Jason Rhoades'
Spaceball at
David Zwirner

Keith Sonnier's
new neon at
Leo Castelli

new in new york

by Meghan Dailey

Jean Blackburn at Bronwyn Keenan
Mar. 22-Apr. 19, 1997

New York artist Jean Blackburn takes household objects -- a vase, a kitchen pot, a bureau, a pair of shoes -- and cuts holes in them -- round, rectangular and otherwise -- with jigsaw and drill. A chest of drawers has rectangular segments cut from its surface and reassembled into interlocking rectangular frames that extend from the furniture and is a tour de force of inversion. A pair of shoes has been scaled down to just the sparest outline -- its seams? -- and is quite elegant. A pitcher is pierced with holes, in a transformation that at first seems cute but still, mysteriously, retains and multiplies its original functionality. It's as if she has, for the first time anywhere, combined the formalism of Stella's black paintings with the garage-sale brio of Rauschenberg's stuffed-goat-and- tire combine Monogram.

Jason Rhoades at David Zwirner
Mar. 22-Apr. 26, 1997

This chaotic Jason Rhoades installation, called "Deviations in Space," is loosely centered around a Spaceball, a giant gyroscope-like gravity-suspending sphere that a person can be strapped into. "Deviation" doesn't begin to describe the chaos of zillions of disparate objects that seem to spawn one another and take over the entire gallery: a spinning potter's wheel, an electric piano, televisions, computers, a basketball, construction odds and ends, and every conceivable kind of light -- bedside, flood, klieg. Is he trying to be illuminating? Be careful not to trip over the bundles of electrical cords and tanks of flammable gases.

Keith Sonnier at Leo Castelli
Mar. 22-Apr. 19, 1997

You might also want to watch your kids closely if you take them to the Keith Sonnier show at Castelli. One has to navigate grid-like "fences," which according to the signs are charged with mild-to-hard-core volts of electricity, to get to Sonnier's dazzling new neon sculptures from the "Cat Doucet Series." These multicolored wall pieces, variously incorporating sticks, plastic bottles and other elements along with their undulating neon tubes, are vaguely figurative and feature bright red neon circles that mark the possible sites of eyes, mouth, nipples, genitals. In the back gallery are electrical transmission devices, whose bright alternating currents race up and down rabbit-ear wires, buzzing and hissing. Also, be sure to visit Nicole Klagsbrun (at 80 Mercer), where "Channel Mix," a selection of Sonnier's videos and films from the 1970s, are on view.

MEGHAN DAILEY is a New York art historian and critic.