A few weeks before he silkscreened (some dollar bills) for the first time, Andy Warhol sat painstakingly carving the image of a seven-cent U.S. Airmail stamp into a rubber eraser before dipping it in pigment and stamping it on a piece of paper over and over again. Most of us proceed through life under the same incremental angel, where even the perfectly chiseled face of Chrisite’s market expert Amy Cappellazzo cannot elevate us.
Thus beauty becomes a function of the ordinary. One very ordinary show resides at La Mama Galleria on East First Street. Curated by a couple of stars, Justin Bond of Kiki and Herb and New Yorker critic Hilton Als, the exhibition explores many of the swish formulas of picture making which Warhol abandoned at Serendipity in 1960.
There are some Beardsley-esque watercolors of assholes by Chris Tanner, Jemma Nelson's mildly amusing paintings of a penis urinating on men in suits, Justin Bond's Polaroids of naked truncated male torsos, and some painfully bad pastel portraits by the singer Rufus Wainwright. Most interesting is a video of a waking baby by Tilda Swinton, actress of archness, juxtaposed with Thurston Moore and Andrew Kessin's heartrending film of Pauline Oliveros playing the accordion.
Sitting on the gallery's wooden bench, contemplating the overall effort of the curators, I was hit by a wave of satisfaction: I'd rather be carving images into a rubber eraser than cashing a $43-million check these days, it seems. A similar warmness of anomie filled me at the Creon Gallery, really a small apartment on East 24th Street. Norman Hinsey, its jovial proprietor, opened his tiny home with a Peggy Cyphers show last month and last week the grizzled art vet Lucio Pozzi, formerly of Hal Bromm and John Weber Galleries, debut some pocket-sized paintings.
They are not much for your $1,200 or $2,400 (two tiny sizes!), but, as bifurcated polygons of pine green and bordeaux red, among other deep colors, they are as lovely as a carved Andy eraser, and just as timeless. "In Italy, Charlie," Lucio smiled, "we say that you have no hair on your tongue." Which means, I surmise, that I call 'em as I see 'em. And, so it goes, Lucio, I just did!
"Cold Water," Nov. 7-Dec. 6, 2009, at La Mama Galleria, 6 East 1st Street, New York, N.Y. 10003.
Lucio Pozzi, "The Twain Minipaintings," Nov. 11-Dec. 19, 2009, at Creon Gallery, 238 East 24th Street, New York, N.Y. 10011
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).