The Agenda (May 19-24): See Chris Kraus's Super-8 Films, Louise Bourgeois's Fabric Scraps, and Wolfgang Tillmans's Non-Gaga Work
David Goodman "New Painting" presented by Saul Ostrow at 162 West 21st Street, 3N, May 24, 7-9 p.m., suchagoodman.com[content:shareblock]
I've been a fan of David Goodman's art since I first visited his studio and he pulled out box after box and portfolio after portfolio of strange, fragile work — artistic contraptions that he worries over, reconfiguring them and rehashing them until the ignition turns and the engine rumbles to life. There are sculptures made of smashed green souvenirs of the Statue of Liberty, grotesque yet satisfyingly hefty. There are photographs of artworks found curbside, in a puddle or against a scarred "post no bills" sign. And there are drawings and paintings that he executes on paper, tearing the sheets and pinning them back together in quilt-like compositions that stand in for New York City's streets, sometimes stained, sometimes graffitoed, sometimes etched hard and obsessively with a pencil for a corduroy effect. Now his most recent paintings will be displayed in a show curated by Bomb magazine art editor Saul Ostrow. Expect to see the artist fussing over the pieces even after they're hung, closing in on his own idiosyncratic visual harmony.[link:view-slideshow]
Chris Kraus "Films" at Real Fine Arts, 673 Meeker Avenue, opening May 21, 7-10 p.m., through June 19, realfinearts.com[content:advertisement-center]
Chris Kraus is an experimental art writer (she won the College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award in 2008 and works often with theory imprint Semiotext(e)), known for writing on art in Los Angeles and a free-associative style that owes a lot to the more self-involved realms of French theory. According to a line in her Wikipedia bio that is accompanied by the words "citation needed" in square brackets, her delightfully named novel "I Love Dick" "manages to be both a sincere lover's cry and a feminist manifesto, while at the same time destroying the bourgeois novel once and for all." Imagine what she could do with film! Real Fine Arts is presenting Kraus's early Super-8 films. In the statement accompanying the show, Kraus sums up her feeling about the work: "These films have nothing to do with me now. Their exhibition comes too late to feel like a vindication. Nevertheless it's a pleasure — an abstract affirmation of a practice I'm no longer involved in but will never recant... emotional science, the giddy revenge of the ageless un-gendered young woman."
"EverGreene: The Artists and Their Art" at Old School, 233 Mott Street, 2nd floor, opening May 19, 6-10 p.m., through May 21, evergreenexhibit.tumblr.com
You may know the work of EverGreene Architectural Arts: The firm has done work restoring the Empire State Building ceilings and conserving the murals at Rockefeller Center, as well as putting its stamp on about 30 state capitals. Normally, EverGreene functions like a Medieval workshop, employing hundreds of artists, working anonymously to create perfect architectural details. This exhibition, however, offers a glimpse of the personal artistic sides of the artists behind the projects, featuring some 65 current EverGreene employees and alums, showcasing the wildly diverse art interests of the huge community sustained by the enterprise. A few favorites: the brightly colored digital prints of Gustavo Rojas, and the Buddhist painting of Tsering Phuntsok (who also happens to have painted for the Dalai Lama).
"Visionaires Series: Alice Waters" at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, May 23, 7 p.m., newmuseum.org
For my 21st birthday I went to Chez Panisse, and it was like going to heaven except the bread was fresher. It's possible that at the upcoming talk by the owner of that divine Berkeley eatery, chef Alice Waters, I may actually salivate all over the floor of the museum. In this age of worshipping all edibles local and fresh and organic, obviously Waters is God, since she basically was the person, some four decades ago, to launch the sustainable food craze. But she's no whacked-out cult figure peddling all things fresh and pure. She's first and foremost a conscientious person who has perfected the art of making food taste great. Who knows which, of her various achievements — including the founding of the Edible Schoolyard, her vice-presidency of Slow Food International, and her eight published books — she'll talk about. Maybe she'll even teach us how to cook an egg in a large copper spoon (as she did with artist Maira Kalman). Gosh, I hope so.
Wolfgang Tillmans "Out of the Boxes, Part 1" at Andrea Rosen Gallery, 525 West 24th Street, Gallery 3, through June, andrearosengallery.com
Who else, besides Wolfgang Tillmans (and also, I guess, the Internet) can boast photographs with such a wide array of subjects that they include depictions of Tilda Swinton, a big turd, some kind of wide-eyed bush baby, cast-off jeans, friends, vaginas, rock candy, flaccid dicks, sweeping cityscapes, wilting lettuce, and just about everything else you could possibly imagine — some in black and white, others in warm, vivid colors? Impressively enough, Tillmans (unlike the Internet) manages to make these images cohere. In this show, curated by Beatrix Ruf and hung in two parallel rows around the back gallery at Andrea Rosen, the photos are pulled from various of the photographer's projects, but they work as a single grouping. Why? Because of the most distinctive quality of Tillmans' work: that it comes together in a book-like way, where the strength lies in the constantly shifting meanings and correlations that emerge from different juxtapositions. I can't wait for Part 2 of this experiment in rearranging Tillmans' photos, which will come later this summer courtesy of curator Stefan Kalmar.
Bourgeois made these unusual and captivating fabric-art pieces, which have been expertly installed in Cheim & Read's museum-like space, during the last few years of her long life (she died in 2010, at age 98). Working with cloth represents a connection to traditional women's crafts and pastimes, and it is also a direct link to Bourgeois's own past, since her parents ran a tapestry restoration business and she enjoyed sewing with her mother. These works have powerful, almost talismanic associations, since some fabric pieces come from tablecloths, napkins, her husband's handkerchiefs, and her own dresses. But above all, these stitched or embroidered fabrics under glass are skillful compositions of color and texture, where the artist's fascination with spirals, webs, and inner emotional landscapes found ultimate and intricate expression.
"Pulse" by Julian Barnes, published by Knopf, randomhouse.com
This collection of 14 short stories contains several stellar pieces, including "East Wind" (in which a man's ill-advised snooping into his girlfriend's past has painful consequences) and "The Limner" (a beautifully-crafted tale of a deaf portraitist from a bygone era), both of which originally appeared in the New Yorker. A series of three stories consisting entirely of dialogue from dinner party gatherings is somewhat less successful, mostly because — with the exception of one unusual example by E.L. Doctorow that I once read — stories told in dialogue tend to lack narrative movement, with the characters merging indistinguishably.
Dasha Shishkin "Desaparecido" at Zach Feuer Gallery, 548 West 22nd Street, through June 11, zachfeuer.com
These mixed media works on mylar and other materials are equal parts Sue Williams, Henry Darger, and Dr. Seuss. An oblique narrative is rendered in bright, messy color — I don't quite know what's going on, but more than a few characters seem to have dicks for noses — and Shishkin's titles ("Butter is the Passport to Pleasure," "Bondage of Rebirth") only serve up more delicious confusion. In "We Are Not Afraid for Comparable Lives," it's possible that we're inside a department store where half-naked women shop for new asses, lamps like eyeballs are suspended from the ceiling, and serving men carry trays of yellow excrement goo. It's worth spending serious time here to dig all the tiny, unnerving details.
Gigantic magazine issue #3 release party at 285 Kent, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, May 20, 8 p.m., $10 (includes a copy of magazine), thegiganticmag.com
This small-but-acclaimed literary magazine celebrates its third issue with readings (by Joshua Cohen, Lauren Spohrer, John Dermot Woods, and Chloé Cooper Jones), free booze, and a live set from Modern Painters favorites NewVillager. The issue itself features poetry by Silver Jew David Berman, as well as a Q&A with Gordon Lish. Also promised at the launch party: a "special new arcade by acclaimed DIY video game collective Babycastles."
Rebecca Chamberlain "...Wouldn't it be sublime..." at DODGE Gallery, 15 Rivington Street, through June 19, dodge-gallery.com
This RISD alum makes intriguingly inexplicable ink drawings, mostly of empty interiors, which are displayed within folding screens, as wall-hung triptychs, or shown double-sided on simple plinths. Occasionally the drawings are paired with minimal sculptures whose forms reflect those interiors. The colors are mostly the monochromatic blue-black of litho ink, with the exception of one red-and-black, Suprematist-inflected graphic. On opening night, several smaller, plinth-based pieces were elegantly showcased on a shelf in the gallery's bathroom. Chamberlain's show is a perfect reason to pay a first visit to this very new gallery in the LES. The bi-level space — previously a sausage factory, if you can believe it — is an ideal backdrop for these quiet musings on architecture.
"A Room of Her Own" at Lu Magnus Art Laboratory and Salon, 55 Hester Street, through June 19, lumagnus.com
Although it's the smaller of the exhibitions up right now featuring work exclusively by women, "A Room of Her Own" at Lu Magnus on the Lower East Side is truly one not to be missed. Curated by artist Natalie Frank and gallery co-owner Amelia Abdullahsani, the show focuses on works on paper by women that depict women (although not exclusively). The impressive line-up includes Frank, Hilary Harkness, Emily Noelle Lambert, Paula Rego, Dasha Shishkin, Eve Sussman, and Mickalene Thomas.
Simon Evans "Shitty Heaven" at James Cohan Gallery, 533 West 26th Street, through June 11, jamescohan.com
Are you cynical, jaded, razor-sharp witted, and misanthropic? If you live in New York, the answer is probably, "Yes," which means you'll love Simon Evan's show of collage-work at James Cohan Gallery. "Shitty Heaven," Evans' second show at the space, includes a hand-stitched letter from William Shakespeare ("Dear Future, I am Dead"), a cramped, hand-written list of 300 secrets ("I get bored of my drinking buddies after a few hours," "I hate people 25-35 years old," "My mum has huge nipples"), and a map of faces linking seemingly everyone in the universe (Ryan McGinley, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, T.S. Eliot, Butch Cassidy). The title work, "Shitty Heaven," is a map of the afterlife as a suburb, with the community center an "abyss of excessive enjoyment and trauma." This breed of pessimism may not be for everyone, but for all us sad schmucks that have been dealing with a week of gloomy, dreary skies (Hello, it's MAY!), it's a delightful haven for our instinctive sneering and snickering.