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Scott & Tyson Reeder

by Elisabeth Kley
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“How do you cure bedwetting?” artist Scott Reeder asked his audience last week on the hottest night of the year. “With an electric blanket.” This was just one of the bad jokes heard at Salon 94 Freemans last Friday, July 22, 2011, when a bunch of artists got together and displayed their exhibitionistic sides to around 50 friends and cohorts. For one night, the Borscht Belt came back to life on the Lower East Side.

Welcome to the legendary Club Nutz, seen in Chicago, London and now New York. Billed as the "world's smallest comedy club," Club Nutz was launched by the Milwaukee artist Scott Reeder and his brother, Tyson Reeder. The setting for the New York debut was fairly humble, with no stage to speak of and a brick-patterned cloth doing duty as backdrop. The audience was standing, though this lazy critic made herself comfortable sitting on the floor, leaning against a pillar.

Beer, fizzy lemonade and bottles of water could be had from a barrel of ice. And air conditioning, courtesy Salon 94 Freemans and gallery director Fabienne Stephan. The event celebrated the closing of Scott Reeder's show down the block at Art Since the Summer of ‘69, a closet-sized (6 x 16 ft.) gallery overseen by Stephan and Art Since the Summer of '69 founder Hanne Mugaas.

Emcee for the evening was artist Brian Belott, who when not otherwise employed churns out quantities of manically colorful collages on children’s books. Frantic, literally flinging himself across the floor and speaking in squirm-inducing funny voices, he spouted jokes about labia, cold piss and penises (Obama has a large one, he has a small one), all in a kind of verbal horror vacuii.

Magician Ross Marino spoke in a lugubrious voice. “I like to set up the atmosphere when I masturbate -- you know, rose petals, scented candles and a wine bottle I can stick right up my ass!” He then produced just such a bottle, stuck it in a paper bag, stepped on it and pretended to eat the glass. For a finale he pulled off his costume in two amazing flourishes, and stood there in nothing but a tasseled lime and red jockstrap.

Later, digital art star Cory Arcangel declaimed a found blog post of self-help advice about a career in online poker (71 hours, $164 profit). Fabienne’s dachsund Ludwig von Truffle was supposed to perform but he ran away from the red and green disco lights and artificial smoke. Artist Amy Yao told the evening’s most enlightened joke: “The Dalai Lama says to the hot dog vendor, can you make me one with everything?”

More supposed comedy came at the open mike. “Why did Vito Acconci get fired from his job as a gardener?" asked comic book artist Matthew Thurber. "Because he was masturbating in the seed bed” (yuk yuk). He even had a few Matthew Barney jokes, all too confusing to remember, though Barney himself was in the audience, along with Miriam Katzeff, director of Team Gallery. Later, White Columns director Matthew Higgs played some records, and artist Emily Sundblad sang a song. It was a whimsically childlike and unpretentious evening that took the edge off the heat.

As for Scott Reeder's drawings, white text works printed on variously colored sheets of paper, they evince an endlessly teeming goofball mind, listing things like “new kinds of music” (“Christian Grime”) and "LOL alternatives" (FS, for "frown silently"). Embedded in a loaf of bread, a tiny videoplayer flashed images of a succession of ridiculous objects, like mustard containers with eyes.

Both Scott and Tyson Reeder exhibit with Daniel Reich Gallery over on West 23rd Street in Chelsea. Tyson's well-reviewed show of paintings, diagrammatic portraits that have been compared to Francis Picabia and Paul Klee, is on view there now, till July 30. Several of the most desirable works have been sold, for $5,000 and up.

ELISABETH KLEY is a New York artist and art writer.