Monday, July 23, 2007

The Real Bling Was On the Street

The Castleberry Hill art openings Friday night were pretty uneventful and it seemed the artists and gallery goers usually energizing the scene were off on summer vacation. While the month of July in NYC is used by galleries to show off themed group shows of younger artist and ambitiously experimental work, the Castleberry Hill galleries instead seemed to have decided to play it safe in July and hope to make some sales to the less daring collectors.

At Marcia Wood Gallery, the well known Encaustic artist Joanne Mattera curated the show, called "Luxe, Calme, et Volupte" meaning "A Meditation on Visual Pleasure." Mattera refers to the show as "unabashedly beautiful" and it relishes colorful abstract work. I guess that really just strikes up a debate on the definition of beauty which, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. While it was a meditation on color abstraction and an interesting display of a wide variety of painting processes, I didn't find the show very riveting, conceptual, or daring. The curator avoided questioning the purpose or place of abstract painting in contemporary art and instead seemed to bask in the romance of it.

I thought the painting by Tim Macfarlane was easy on the eyes:

The ink on paper by David Ambrose had incredibly intricate detail:
And Trevor's sweater went perfectly with the works by Donna Sharrett, which reminded one person of a "doyley":

Probably the most interesting show of the night was at Romo Gallery. The three person group show was done is association with The National Black Arts Festival and focused on modern interpretations of the traditional art form of portraiture.
Both Nekisha Durrett and Jacob Dwight used digital technology and modern printing methods to create their work. While very different in approach both artists used the iconic African American silhouette/profile to give identity to the otherwise abstracted figures. This imagery reminded me of, and was possibly influenced by, Kara Walker.
I especially liked Durrett's abandonment of the rectangular/framed format in favor of printing on more commercial materials in stylized shapes. The format seemed fitting for her linear graphic work.
Jacob Dwight:

Nekisha Durrett:

One thing I hadn't been exposed to yet was the new club Noir. Opened by Wertz Contemporary owner Jason Wertz, the new club is actually attached to the gallery with an entrance directly from the gallery floor. The motorcycles out front provided a bit of bling I wasn't use to seeing in Castleberry Hill. I wonder how this pairing will influence the artwork shown at Wertz.

The new shows at Marcia Wood Gallery and Romo Gallery run through August 25th.

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