Shaq, Tim Burton, NY Exhibitions : No 1

Recently, I embarked on a trip to NY to visit artist friends, take in a few galleries and join in the celebration of Jonathan LeVine’s Fifth Year Anniversary exhibit for his gallery in Chelsea. Along the way, I paid a visit to the exhibition “Size Does Matter” curated by Shaquille O’Neil, visited with fine artist Barbara Nessim, chatted with Joshua Liner at the Joshua Liner Gallery, visited MOMA’s Tim Burton exhibition, peeked at a couple of Henry Darger’s paintings at the American Folk Art Museum and skimmed the dense selection of art books at the Strand bookstore.

Ethel Seno : Victor Castillo : Hiro Kurata

I tried to pack it all in as the weather proved a significant challenge and encouraged me to spend more time indoors. Concentrated time in Martin Wittfooth’s studio proved beneficial, as I designed 60 pages of the Kelsey Brookes catalog, “Bigger, Brighter, Bolder.” My time in NY was fruitful and inspired me to write this entry, beckoning an immediate request from the art world to aspire to a much higher standard.

Shaquille O’Neil is no doubt, a future NBA hall of famer, and to my surprise a qualitative assembler of great artists. Shaq orchestrated a stand out exhibition, “Size Does Matter,” at the Flag Art Foundation on display until May 27, 2010. Shaq’s contemporary survey explores a myriad of ways that scale affects the perception of contemporary art. The artwork ranges from paintings on the eye of a needle by Willard Wigan, large scaled paintings by Chuck Close, Kehinde Wiley and large sculptures by Conrad Bakker and Tim Hawkinson. This is a must see if you are in NY. (MM rating A)

MOMA has thrown its hat into the Hollywood ring featuring Tim Burton and his creative conceptualization genius. The “Tim Burton” exhibition was packed with a frenzy of visitors looking on at hundreds of art pieces and artifacts. Unfortunately, space was tight, and the exhibition was cramped within a small wing of the museum’s third floor. Decaying Hollywood props (as latex in the movies has a small shelf life), hundreds of sketches, conceptual development drawings, models and video studies were presented in overwhelming quantities. The exhibition did a great job presenting Mr. Burton as a true visionary in the history of film and character development. “This exhibition, by measure of the exhibition’s graphics,” I thought, “will be exciting.” Not so much, I felt this presentation lacked careful editing and thus, a bit too much on the eyes as paintings, sketches and drawings were hung salon style, as caged artifacts were presented in a space that lacked adequate space between pieces. The exhibition presented itself as a visionary’s creative laboratory with pieces floor to ceiling, feeling less like an organized museum installation. (MM rating C+)

Walking away from the “Tim Burton” exhibition, MOMA presented “Five Themes” and featuring 5 installations by William Kentridge. William Kentridge is a force, versatile, poetic, kinetic and resourceful. William Kentridge (1955, South Africa) presents 30 years of inspirational works including, books, collage, sculpture, film, drawing and prints. It is an impressive exhibition of scale organized by 5 themes entitled, “Ubu and the Procession,” “Soho and Felix,” “Artist in the Studio,” “The Magic Flute” and “The Nose.” You can check out more of the interactive components, film and information by visiting MOMA in New York and clicking here. (MM Rating A+)

Jonathan LeVine assembled an outstanding cast of emerging contemporaries featured at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery over the past five years including: Date Farmers, Dan Witz, (pictured above), Souther Salazar, Doze Green, James Jean, Andrew Houser, Adam Wallcavage, Ron English and on… An immense Scott Musgrove bronze welcomed you into the gallery, flanked by James Jean (great study in red and blue), Jeff Soto, Ray Caesar, Shephard Fairey and Tara McPhearson. The Date Farmers were in the gallery room to the left (amazing piece and my personal favorite) and Souther Salazar was located directly across on the opposing wall if you took a right through the gallery door. The exhibition was inspired, as it represented a great assembly of artists with a great amount of potential. What it lacked was a representation of excellence practiced at a much higher degree. The exhibition felt as if it was an artist’s job to get something done in time for the exhibit’s opening, as opposed to delivering a heart felt sign of gratitude to be exhibited, promoted and hustled in a busied world of contemporary art. “Hmmm, I hope this show did not interfere with your busied schedule,” I thought to myself.

James Jean : Isabel Samaras & Doze Green

The main reason I was in NY was to be a part of this exhibition, as I respect Jonathan and the many artists he works with and felt that this was a historic occasion. Unfortunately, I felt that the show was challenged in areas of—craftsmanship, output, experimentation, variety of work—and artistic notions to deliver deeper and more meaningful work. It was still a great occasion, and thankful to be a part of the history. A NY Times interest piece featuring the exhibition here. (MM rating C+)

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