Anna Betbeze "Moss Garden" at Kate Werble Gallery, 83 Vandam Street, through March 12, katewerblegallery.com[content:shareblock]
"Shabby chic" is not a term, of praise or otherwise, that one often hears applied to works of art, but something about Anna Betbeze's new series of paintings on disheveled Flokati rugs brings it to mind. Or maybe that should be "shaggy sheep," since that's the material Greek herders in the Pindus mountains have used to make these heavy, hardy throws since the fifth century. Betbeze has adopted this material because of the malleability of the wool and its ability to withstand punishment — something the artist has clearly inflicted with glee to create the color-drenched, torn, and punctured works in this show. They make Julian Schnabel's velvet paintings (deserving of a second look if the beautiful one included in last year's "Collecting Biennials" show was any indication) look dainty in comparison.[link:view-slideshow]
"Tara Donovan: Drawings (Pins)" at the Pace Gallery, 510 West 25th Street, opening February 11, 6-8 p.m., through March 19, thepacegallery.com[content:advertisement-center]
Since being featured in the Whitney Biennial in 2000, Tara Donovan has become a bona fide international sensation by using everyday materials — styrofoam cups, pencils, straws, paper plates, Scotch tape, and more — to create sculptures that invade larger spaces that one would think possible with biomorphic shapes, mini cities, and quotidian-made-fantastic vistas. Now, for her new show, she's tackled the field of painting for the first time, creating elegant wall-mounted abstractions — she calls them "drawings" — by embedding tens of thousands of nickel-headed steel pins in Gatorboard, a polystyrene material often used for mounting prints. The new series, which in fact arose from a stretch of print-making, is a perceptual delight, with light striking the pins in such a way that some clusters appear as inky black, others as gray, still others as shimmery silver, like a lake glancing in the setting winter sun.
Helen Mayer Harrison & Newton Harrison "Sierra Nevada: An Adaptation" at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, 31 Mercer Street, opening February 10, 5-8 p.m., through March 26, feldmangallery.com
The Harrisons, influential eco-artists, offer up their latest installation, commissioned by the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art: A forty-foot-long aerial photograph of the Sierra Nevada mountains that serves as a vivid diagram of environmental change in action, along with animations outlining different possible futures for the area.
"VIOLET Dinner Theatre Experience," House of Yes, 342 Maujer St., Brooklyn, February 13, 7-10 p.m., houseofyes.org
If one had $95 free dollars, and a date (OK, that makes $190), my feeling is that this crazy dinner-art event would be a pretty good way to set the stage for Valentine's Day. Go! Eat violet-colored foods under waves of ultraviolent light, surrounded by "music, video art, dancers, stilters, acrobatics, fire, and fantasy," all of it, presumably, violet.
Philip-Lorca diCorcia "Eleven," at David Zwirner, 519 West 19th Street, opening February 10, 6-8 p.m., through March 5, davidzwirner.com
Admit it, you were pretty into those Philip-Lorca diCorcia portraits of Marc Jacobs in the designer's Paris apartment for W Magazine back in 2008. The issue came out right after Jacobs had gotten all-of-a-sudden really fit and tan and there was that one shot with the designer naked in a fancy leather chair. Also, the photos evinced the greatest wave of art-and-apartment envy since the dawn of time — is that an Elizabeth Peyton next to that John Currin? Yes. Now, Zwirner is showing a whole slew of diCorcia's fashion and editorial photographs for W magazine, taken between 1997 and 2008, and they're awesome. There's a funny one of a bride changing a lightbulb and a funnier one of a super WASPy woman staring, with a sly smile plastered on her face, at the nether regions of a nude man whose tan rivals Jacobs'. The book that accompanies the show is edited by Dennis Freedman — in the news of late as he made moves from W to become creative director at Barneys — and has text by a fiction-writing favorite of mine, Mary Gaitskill. Swing by the gallery on Saturday, 4-6 p.m., to get your copy signed by diCorcia.
"Dance Under the Influence" at Museum of Arts and Design Theater, 2 Columbus Circle, one Wednesday per month beginning February 9 at 7 p.m., through May 18, madmuseum.org
I don't go to a lot of tap-dancing performances, but now MAD is offering an added incentive — beyond, you know, the repetitive sound of tapping — to do so, so I might just. This new series of dance performances inspired by visual artworks is not just tap. Quite the contrary, the monthly event will feature flamenco, ballet, you name it, all inspired by artworks. So if you, like I, haven't enjoyed tap since Savion Glover tapped his toes on "Sesame Street," there's still something for you, like tonight's Ballet Hispanico offering with Jennifer Muller, who in the past has collaborated with Keith Haring and Yoko Ono. In the coming months, check back in with this series, when American Ballet Theater principal Michele Wiles dances on March 16 and when the ever-amusing Bang Group stampedes the stage in May.
Swipe Magagazine, Volume two, Winter 2011: artwork, poetry, literature, and criticism by guards from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, swipemagazine.com
It's kind of a relief to finally know what the guards at the Met are thinking. Maybe it's my own insecurities, but I always feel like they're judging me for not looking at artworks for long enough. OK, now that I've actually written that, I'm absolutely sure that what I need to do is see a shrink and not read a magazine. But, in the meantime, I'm checking out this magazine and it's pretty great. The "Emilie Doppelganger" photographs by Emilie Lemakis, depicting the artist around town with her papier-mâché alter-ego are hilarious. Jack Laughner's complex pen-and-ink urban vista à la R. Crumb is pretty swell and I do feel the poignant appeal motivating Richard Mirabelle's sarcastically titled line drawing "Another Important Cell Phone Call." Sometimes, however, the guards' true feelings toward museumgoers turn a tad ominous, as with Kevin Franke's darkly funny photograph of a man positioned behind a vitrine in which a pistol is on display, a pistol which appears to be pointed at the visitor's head. But that's no reason to skip out on the launch party and exhibition opening on Thursday night at 25 Central Park West, from 6-9 p.m. There will be beer!
"The Gospel of Anarchy" by Justin Tayler, published by Harper Perennial, harpercollins.com
Taylor follows up his much-lauded debut short story collection, "Everything Here Is The Best Thing Ever," with an equally arresting novel about freegan culture in Gainesville, Florida. The book opens with an epigram from "Days of War, Nights of Love," a document of radical leftist thought from the CrimethInc. Collective published before 9/11, and a sort of spiritual cousin to Glenn Beck's favorite book, "The Coming Insurrection." (I remember mail-ordering my copy and wondering if my parents' house was now officially on the FBI watch list.) Taylor's novel focuses on a houseful of Floridian teens knee-deep in dumpster diving culture, muddling their way through free love, anti-capitalism, and a bizarrely cultish version of Christianity. (In their version, Jesus 2.0 could be a journal-keeping punk who used to live in the backyard — in a tent.) The book captures what is both infuriating and admirable about this subculture; in the end, we're not sure whether to laugh it off, or quit our jobs and launch a commune. "The Gospel of Anarchy" bottles misguided youth with all its heartfelt optimism, anthemic punk, and questionable body odors. Harper Perennial's only mistake here is not including a soundtrack with your purchase. Propagandhi, anyone?
"Winter's Children" by Jim Mangan, published by powerHouse Books, powerhousebooks.com
Snowboarder and filmmaker-about-snowboarding Jim Mangan hit upon a genius idea for "Winter's Children": Gather some attractive guys and gals, a bunch of brightly beautiful Navajo-patterned blankets, and some vintage snowboards... and then go shred the slopes, in Idaho, in the nude. Mangan's photographs, collected in this volume from powerHouse, owe a clear debt to the youthful, sexed-up exuberance of Ryan McGinley. The colors pop against the pure white snow; there's plenty of T&A; the whole thing seems romantic and playful and not at all like the grueling, subzero nightmare it very well might have been. Some of the snowboarders' pull quotes could have been left out — "'Shrinkage' would be an understatement" — but overall this is a fine photo book of winter landscapes and goosebumped skin.
Olivier Mosset at Leo Koenig Inc., 545 West 23rd Street, and Mary Boone Gallery, 745 Fifth Avenue, opening February 10, 6-8 p.m at Leo Koenig and 5-7 p.m. at Mary Boone, through March 19, leokoenig.com and maryboonegallery.com
Among young artists, abstraction and the monochrome are back with a vengeance. But wait — the Swiss-born, Tucson-based artist Olivier Mosset has been making abstract paintings for 40 years, and revitalized monochromatic painting in the 70s. Back in the heady 1960s, he was one fourth of BMPT, an acronym for his own last name as well as those of his artist colleagues Daniel Buren, Michel Parmentier, and Niele Toroni. (Think of them as Dreamworks SKG's Spielberg, Katzenberg, and Geffen, only painters questioning authorship and authority and trying to democratize art, instead of Hollywood bigwigs with a fancy film studio.) In the 80s Mosset became something of a hero for Neo-Geo-ists like Peter Halley. And now Mosset is having a big two-venue show in New York! At Leo Koenig: 40 identically sized, glossy black paintings made with truck liner paint. (The gallery’s press release says these are "suggestive of the 'black hole' of the art market, which sucks everything and everyone that gets close to it into its infinite core," but you know what? You probably have to judge that one for yourself.) Uptown at the tonier, more venerable venue that is Mary Boone: ten more monochromes, made from commercial polyurethane. Mosset is a living legend, and this should put all the young'un abstractionists in context. Not to be missed.
Tom Gregg "Recent Paintings" at George Billis Gallery, 521 W. 26th Street, opening February 10, 6-8 p.m., through March 5, georgebillis.com
In his still lifes, Tom Gregg applies trompe l'oeil finesse to an intriguing selection of objects: not just traditional items, like apples, lemons, and glasses of water, but also menacing hand grenades and a rubber duck. Set against colorful, Minimalist-inspired backgrounds, they're a meditation on the objects around us, and even on time itself, as in his series of four paintings of a plate and fork with smears of colored icing from a consumed piece of cake. Also, my hat is off to him for an artist's statement that explains what feels to me like the fundamental nature of our relationship with the world of objects.
Tracy Miller "Food Paintings" at Feature Inc., 131 Allen Street, through February 13, featureinc.com
There's some still life in Tracy Miller's work, too, hidden in vividly-colored semi-abstract canvases, almost as if in a puzzle. Catch her show before it closes and find pineapples, pineapple rings, cake, oysters, donuts, and Budweiser in a wild mish-mash of colors. Good stuff.
"reGeneration2: Tomorrow's Photographers Today" curated by William A. Ewing and Nathalie Herschdorefer at 547 West 27th Street, 4th floor, through March 17, aperture.org/gallery
Aperture has brought together 50 of photography's next hot young things in reGeneration2. Some of it is what you might expect, but this editor was pleasantly surprised by the solid presence of powerful, earnest work. Young artists, yes, but this is no amateur hour.