FIVE THôT columnist Laura Zander is a book nerd on a perpetual quest to satiate her curiosity and observe the magic of juxtapositions. A veteran of the tech world, she's widely acknowledged as a product, marketing, and operations guru. You can read her other articles on FIVE THôT here, and follow her reading life at loudlatinlaughing.com or @lz
Today was the second attempt at a gallery stroll with a local artist whose work fascinates me. On our first attempt, we had so much fun chatting over cocktails (Manhanttans, natch), we pulled the plug on the galleries. Today we were more disciplined, limiting ourselves to two glasses of Chianti before buttoning up our coats and girding our loins for visual battle.
The first gallery we hit up had paintings of vaguely famous historical figures in a bit of whacked out perspective. “The galleries are really hit or miss,” J said, excusing herself in advance for any visual assaults I might suffer. The much more satisfying McKenzie gallery was next, displaying large and small geometric paintings which pulsed with energy and color. Passing another gallery, J glanced inside and said she’d wait on the sidewalk while I ogled the candle-burning-to-create-wax-sculpture and what I can only describe as a giant newspaper-covered lollipop hanging from the ceiling by feet.
“Let me take you to an awkwardly tiny gallery up the street,” said J, revealing a space so small the main piece was hung diagonally across the room, with the back of the painting facing the street. “How do you know that’s the back of the piece?” J points out.
We became dizzy with the hot mess on display as “Conclusion: Inconclusive.” Dizzying to look at unless your nose nearly touches the canvas, they reminded me of the 1990s fad of 3D posters that you stare at to have the image pop out at you. “I would go bananas if I had to look at this while creating it,” J admits.
Despite our dizziness, we swoon up the stairs to view an exhibit of video loops. “There’s a fine line between video and .gif” J said, as we watched an image of a planter slightly shift back and forth. Some of the images captured in these video loops are stunning, and would have been stellar paintings or photographs in their own right.
We went to the next gallery because J had been angered by their exhibition announcement that contained a visual image in the email (newspaper scattered on the floor) which gave no indication about the exhibit itself. “And to make matters worse, they didn’t include a link to the gallery anywhere. So I had to jump through hoops to figure out whether it looked interesting.” The exhibit fell a bit short, with the smaller pieces made of Business Reply Mail more interesting than the larger, soulless work. “Corporate art,” denounced J.
Having mentioned a show that was skewered on a local art blog, J squealed with delight after realizing we were across the street. It looked from my vantage point like The Three Little Pigs meet nuclear holocaust. We crossed and went into the gallery, became physically pained by plastic mushroom-cloud pieces hung high on the wall, along with an unviewable installation of cones. The pretentious press release informs us that the cones are a recurring theme in the artist’s work, emerging as “Pinocchio’s nose in his attempt to resuscitate the dead tightrope walker from the prologue of Friedrich Nietszche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra."
Recovering our senses on the sidewalk out front, we pulled out our phones and gleefully read the snarky review to compare notes. An elderly gentleman walked by and asked “Is that your car?” Shaking our heads no, we watched as a traffic cop began to write a ticket. “Nooooooooooo!” A man bursts out of the gallery we just escaped. “Please please please please please please please!” (I am not exaggerating.) He begged the cop not to give him a ticket. “I’ll give you a cookie! And a coke!” The wheedling man was unsuccessful in his attempt to skirt the law, and I am forever scarred by witnessing the cookie bribe and shameless begging. For the curious, the illegally parked car was a BMW.
We ambled down the street until a gallery caught J’s eye. “What’s this?” opening the door onto what looked like incredibly detailed drawings, but instead were David Nadel’s wonderful photographs of burned forests in the snow.
New York skyline image courtesy of Shutterstock