Lower East Side Gallery Tour: 11 March 2012

The Lower East Side BID was conducting a free LES gallery tour today so I decided to play tourist in my own city. There were three guided tours or you could go around alone. Since I could go around alone at any time I went on the guided tour. All 17 people were from NYC and most of them from the LES. Also almost everyone was with friends. One guy (who was around my age) kept chatting up younger women who strayed from the herd. I was safe because I was too old.

We met in the lobby of the New Museum on Bowery and set off for Hendershot Gallery. The current exhibit is a group show, “Come and Get It,” which is a show about commercialism and among the art are the actual goods from three actual retailers.

Daniel Arango: “Holy K Box”

In a smaller back room were a series of St. Marks Place photographs by Jesper Haynes. There were three collages of contacts sheets. One of the woman said she modeled in college and she used see photos like that but didn't know how to make them like that. The man next to her explained that they were contacts and you need real film. She wondered if that meant expensive cameras like Nikons or Canons and he told her no, just real film instead of digital. She was still confused.

Next was Steven Harvey. Their group show is “Dark Matter.” This show grew out of a conversation between artist Ryan Cobourn and the gallery owner about dark paintings and how those are rarely shown. All the pieces were dark abstract landscapes from the last hundred years.

Cobourn was there and told us how he'll make a dark piece and then a light piece. This piece took two years. It represents the hustle and bustle of a day in NYC and the darker squares in the middle were originally on the bottom but he scraped it off and moved it up and then kept moving it over. So making the busy was as busy as the city it represents.

Frosch & Portmann are exhibiting a one-woman show – Vicki Sher's “Yes/No.” Most of the pieces are drawings. There is one large drawing of her grandmother, who had a stroke when Sher was 17. After the stroke her grandmother could only say yes or no. Eventually Sher (and other members of her family) was able to have conversations with her grandmother because of how she said yes or no. There were also two looped tapes – one of an actress saying yes and no different ways and the other of Sher telling the story of how the art came about and how yes and no are different than other words and are controlled by a different part of your brain.

Dacia Gallery also had a one-woman show – Claudia Trombin's “Make a Wish.” This was my least favorite of all the shows. All females with wings, butterflies, and waves. The only thing missing were unicorns.

Y Gallery had an interesting one-man show – Artemio, a Mexican artist, whose exhibition, “A Requiem for Maria” celebrating the life of his friend, artist Maria Alos. The old requiems were in Latin etched into black walnut boxes and glass plaques. Very beautiful and moving.

Krause Gallery exhibit is “Old to New, A Group Show.” One of the artists is Hanksy parodies famous street artist Banksy using the head of Tom Hanks on his pieces. Hanks was invited to the show opening, couldn't come, and sent a lovely note, which is on display in the gallery. Another artist was OLEK's crocheted pieces.

Louis B. James has two exhibitions. As soon as you walk in you can smell the exhibit that is downstairs – Martin Roth: “Untitled (Persian Rugs).” This was Roth's thesis – a room is filled with very expensive Persian rugs, grass seeds are spread across them, the rugs are watered daily, and grass grows. He is now also experimenting with clover and flowers. There is no dirt. The grass kind of loops around the pile. The artist plants the seeds in the same design as the rugs and mows the grass when it gets too long. The pieces we saw were two weeks old. When the exhibit moves on, the grass is cut all the way down, the rugs dry-cleaned, and used again. Apparently the rugs look like new after being dry-cleaned. This was one of my favorite exhibits and I took my own photos.




Upstairs was Wardell Milan, who draws/paints tulips and bodies. The current exhibit was female bodybuilders. He leaves the all the lines on the drawing so you can see the process.

On Stellar Rays was presenting two videos by Brody Condon who focuses on live action role playing. One video was two days of an EST-like seminar. The actors looked like they were doing everything that I remember reading about EST and those other “therapies” in the 1970s. The other was a sci-fi psychotherapy encounter group taking place in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The actors were all wearing long multicolored togas.

Inside the Essex Market is Cuchifritos but we couldn't go inside because Trade School was conducting their first class. Trade School is a barter art school.

.NO is a non-profit gallery owned by Norwegians. The current show is “Commonalities,” which features four Norwegian artists and four NYC artists. I liked the little plaster figurines sitting in or near landscapes. There was a video playing in the back room, where you could still see some of the tile from when it was the apartment kitchen. I think that was my favorite.

Recession Art at culturepix was our last stop and is where our tour guide, Allison, works. Upstairs they were featuring Megan Berk and I bought two of her numbered signed prints for a gift. There are works for sale by different artists with prices starting at one cent.


This was my favorite photo at RAC:


Downstairs was a group show: “At the Edge of the World Like a Worm Eaten Sun.” There were some interesting pieces like “Heidi Klum on an Iguana” by Carl Eckhoff and a painting with little Raggedy Anns and Andys covered with neon squares by Quinn Corey.

The downstairs also has a piano and some mics – they use the room for shows and rent it out for events. You walk out through a very small bar (with a big wine collection) and onto the street.

A marathon of art galleries in two hours. Actually the way I like to see stuff.

By Carene Lydia Lopez