An installation shot using the widest camera lens available (Perry Rubenstein Gallery really isn’t that big). Photo via: Perry Rubenstein Gallery
Somebody needs to give the person responsible for exhibition design at Perry Rubenstein (on 23rd) a raise, because their shows are always perfectly arranged. Even work I wouldn’t normally care for looks good in this gallery, which is important because it forces viewers to consider art they might not otherwise. Certainly, no greater end could be achieved by a A Sorry Kind of Wisdom, an exhibition addressing this year’s election, and the politics of change.
That said, neither the thesis for this show, which at times feels like an afterthought nor its hanging necessarily changed my opinion about artists I had mixed feelings for. I still think Kamrooz Aram‘s paintings fusing East and West imagery fall somewhere between being not cheesy enough and too cheesy to make a compelling statement, though I did give Michael Brown’s stainless steel and polished Budweiser can lawn chair a second look. On its own the piece might reduce to gimmick fairly quickly —
it does after all belong to the small-objects-combined-to-make-different-object genre of artmaking — but within the show it provides an otherwise absent utilitarian aesthetic. Rather importantly, it also implicates the viewer in a corrosive voyeurism permeating American culture. Update from the artist: The lawn chairs sculpture at the Perry Rubenstein gallery are made from found lawn chair frames, polished and then woven with stainless steel, they are not made out of beer cans [a conclusion drawn from the press release]. The piece originally had beer cans that were polished to a high shine and accompanied the chairs and I think there was some confusion as to whether there would be just the chairs, or the chairs and the cans. There is another version of the series in which I acquired some mangled lawn chairs from Hurricane Katrina. I like this piece much better knowing this information.
In other words, A Sorry Kind of Wisdom isn’t a feel good show. But with a title naming regretful wisdom, I think most of us would be surprised by anything less.
Participating artists include: Kamrooz Aram, Jules de Balincourt, Michael Brown, Natalie Czech, Sam Durant, Wayne Gonzales, Paul McCarthy, Katrina Moorhead, Daniel Rich