Celebrating Occasions with Art

As an art consultant one has to be open to doing all sorts of art related activity. From giving lectures at museums, to hanging art on high ladders to swinging a sculpture on a crane through a window.

Recently a group of women from Boston asked me to give them a tour of Chelsea galleries to help celebrate their friend’s 50th birthday party.

Our first stop was Sundaram Tagore Gallery to see the Jane Lee show. Ms. Lee likes to take the materials that make up a painting and use them in innovative ways.  She makes you think about what constitutes a painting. Why do artists use paint only to make paintings? Why don’t they use it to make sculpture? She squeezes paint out onto glass, rolls it up into tiny rosettes, stuffs it with more paint so the surface looks like it’s filled with tiny hors d’oeuvres made out of paint.

“Beneath 1” (2011) shown above shows how the artist has draped the canvas like a curtain on the stretcher bars. Then she has squeezed the paint in ribbons across the surface in bloody curdling red.  Are we looking through the remains of a curtain where a nasty incident occurred? What’s going on here?

There were several pieces that moved and creeped on the walls and floor. The artist used a lot of red in this exhibition and deep acidic blues so in her own way this Singapore born artist gives a nod to her first exhibition in America. The Boston ladies liked it very much. 

We also saw two shows at Marlborough Gallery. A Beverly Pepper sculpture (below) show on the ground level exhibited 4 Core-ten steel sculpture ranging in height from 8 to 13.5 feet. Pepper oxidized each of them in her red-brown finish with lovely abstract drips and pours. It’s amazing how her sculpture though it’s made of steel seems to float upwards like branches embracing the sky.

Upstairs on the second floor was a jaw dropping show of Valerie Hegarty’s work called “Altered States.”  Taking cues from American history, Hegarty deconstructs rugs, armoires, paintings and furniture in a haunting manner. 

As you walked through the space, looking at the artwork, there were torn paper walls, and a disintegrating Aubusson rug achingly reminding you of man’s impending apocalyptic moment which is upon us. The rug has grass growing in between it’s broken patches showing us that nature fights back on its own terms, even after the nuclear explosion has obliterated seemingly everything. 

One of my favorite pieces was called “Shipwrecked Armoire with Barnacles.”  What was once a container for clothing in a wealthy home becomes a piece of driftwood with barnacles showing how over time material things pass on so easily. Something that was once so treasured by a family is now a piece of flotsam in the sea.

The Boston ladies were such an enthusiastic group and full of comments and laughter along the way. I couldn’t help but stop off at Pace Gallery to conclude the tour at the Adolph Gottlieb exhibition.  There we marked 50 years by standing in front of his piece “Expanding” from 1962 (below),  a creamy turquoise jewel showcasing Gottlieb’s classic explosion symbols.

The ladies were at that point ready to start partying so they headed off to Fig & Olive on 13th Street to grab a bite.  What a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday – art, food, and friends!  

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