14 Shows You’ve Gotta See in April

by The AFC Staff on April 6, 2012 Preview

Works by John Almanza and Dave Hardy, at Regina Rex.

Works by John Almanza and Dave Hardy, at Regina Rex.

Good artworks, like good bears, hibernate. For months, they can’t be found; but now, with the gradual lengthening of days, they’re poking their heads back out, and taking refuge in warming galleries.

But which?

Art Fag City is here to help. With the assistance of local guides and our own expertise, we’ve determined a few select locations where you may be fortunate enough to see good art in the wild. If you spot it, be sure to be quiet, and move slowly; good art is very easily frightened. Good luck!


See It This Week:


John Almanza and Dave Hardy
Regina Rex, 1717 Troutman, #329, Queens. Through April 15th. Saturday and Sunday 12-6, or by appointment.

Don't miss this show. Regina Rex has found two gems in John Almanza and Dave Hardy, and there's no excuse not to make it out to Ridgewood in the remaining week of the exhibition.

Almanza's paintings are precise yet uncontrolled, an effect achieved by a process of application and removal that invites chance only within strict parameters. Almanza uses a narrow piece of plywood to scrape away globs of collected paint off of a drying canvas, leaving an angular grid in uneasy tension with the hazy collection of abstract blobs beneath. In the best works, like How Not To Read Right, the visual dominance of the grid lines only makes the color fields more vibrant; occasionally, multi-colored drips escape from the scarred surface of the paintings, giving the effect of hastily-covered graffiti.

A similar tension is found in Dave Hardy's sculptures, which use found materials to balance imminent fragility and weightless arrangement. In one piece, Verge D'Or, a structure of parallel lines begins to look like a prison-maquette sandwiched between two large pieces of glass; in another, Chinook, several panes of glass, resting against each other like a house of cards, balance on stacked layers of foam and cement. Hardy's industrial materials—foam, cement, and flooring-grade teak—give the damaged, dusty objects the look of a careful arrangement of construction remains. Despite the roughness of his materials, though, Hardy manages to always subtly adhere to the values of modernist sculpture; the result is a body of work that lies perfectly between vitality and entropy. (Anthony Espino)

Michael Mahalchick
CANADA, 55 Chrystie Street. Through April 8th. UPDATE: EXTENDED THROUGH APRIL 22ND!

“Many people will find this show revolting” reads an early line in CANADA's press release for Michael Mahalchick's show. This is followed by a picture of Mahalchick pinning strips of bacon to the wall, which—while weird enough on its own to be pretty great—worries me a little. The bacon's still there.

The work is supposed to evoke a mental space informed by some combination mysticism, modernism, mayhem and terror collapse. We recommend the show because Mahalchick's assemblage is some of the strangest we've seen. The gallery's press release recommends the show by describing the work as “a gaping magnitude of impotency, dull tones, vague, nondescript scenes, stripped of emotional propaganda”. And if that doesn't sell readers on the show we don't know what will. (Paddy Johnson)

A.K. Burns – pregnant patron penny pot
Callicoon Fine Arts, 124 Forsyth Street. Through April 15th.

A must-see. Pregnant patron penny pot contains sculptures and wall-mounted works that thumb their noses at labor and production in the face of a quality-hungry art market. Burns has produced five wooden sculptures that resemble artworks explicitly associating themselves with modernist minimalism. These sculptures are laminated in skin-toned, marble-pattern formica, an inexpensive material used to superficially decorate domestic countertops. They're awkwardly short, which provokes an immediate discomfort; they seem somehow to occupy too much space.

Wall-mounted pieces of canvas accompany the sculptures, and maintain a similar attitude towards production. Each cutting-board-sized piece of inkjet-printed canvas is penetrated by a single penny–appearing as though they are being swallowed by the wall. Appropriated images sourced from the New York City Public Library Image Archive are printed and overlapped onto each sequential canvas.

This exhibition feels like a cynical response to the Lower East Side's reputation for consistently showing artwork produced with expensive building materials. If Burns's exhibition is a joke on the artists delivering their assemblages of expensive Home Depot products, it's doubtful that Orchard Street is laughing. (Anthony Espino)


Mira Schor, Time (2011), Ink and gesso on linen, 24 x 41 inches.

Mira Schor, Time (2011), Ink and gesso on linen, 24 x 41 inches.

See It This Month:


Mira Schor
Marvelli Gallery, 526 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor. Through April 28th.

Mira Schor is probably best-known for her book Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture, and her blog A Year of Positive Thinking, the cheerful postscript to the anthology, A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life. This month, Marvelli offers gallerygoers an opportunity to get acquainted with her paintings, which are about materiality and intuition. We'll be making a trip out to see the work and we think you should, too. (Paddy Johnson)

Every Exit is an Entrance: 30 Years of Exit Art
Exit Art, 475 Tenth Avenue. Through May 14th.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, artist-run non-profit spaces popped up all over New York City: Printed Matter, Exit Art, The Kitchen, and Art in General are several of those still in existence. Exit Art won't be on that list much longer; Every Exit will be its last exhibition. Every Exit brings together dozens of artists who have shown with the non-profit over the years, including Vito Acconci, Luis Camnitzer, Carrie Mae Weems, Shirin Neshat, Adrian Piper, and David Wojnarowicz. It's a retrospective, so don't expect anything new—but it'll show all the big hitters who have shown with them over the years. (Corinna Kirsch)

Virginia Overton
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street. Through May 6th.

We just picked Virginia Overton as a rising art star, so here's your chance to see how right we are. She's a sculptor with a fine sense of balance and a fantastic ability to invigorate minimal constructs with a sense of presence and danger, a kind of practice where sustained success takes luck or crazy skills. This Kitchen show was a bit of a gamble; working in the space for a week, Overton deprived herself of her normal tools and constructed a group of site-specific works from materials found around the gallery. The resulting show is a good one, with many more hits than misses. For more, check out our conversation about the show.
(Will Brand)

Liz Magic Laser
Derek Eller Gallery, 615 West 27th Street. Through April 21st.

One would think we're good on political parody at this point, but Liz Magic Laser proves otherwise. The playwright/director/artist's rise is enough to make anyone jealous; since 2010 alone, she has quickly grabbed the attention of Holland Cotter, Jerry Saltz, and Roberta Smith, and she's exhibited at Greater New York, Performa, Pace, Casey Kaplan, and Derek Eller Gallery, to name a few.

And that praise is well-deserved. Her performance “I Feel Your Pain,” which will be on view at Derek Eller this month, was an obvious highlight from the 2011 Performa Biennial. Cameramen filmed actors live as they reperformed bits of political interviews and speeches from the audience of the SVA theater. Throughout, Laser selected angles from the live feed to project on the screen, so audience members tended to focus on the images Laser selected for us; depending on the dialogue, the camera angles came off as sympathetic, glorifying, demonizing. As heavy-handed as this may sound, the circus quality was elevated by meaningful stopping-points and moments of genuine despair.

The Derek Eller show will feature the video produced from that performance, along with a new work based on hand gestures from State of the Union addresses. (Whitney Kimball)

Brian Ulrich, "Candy Store, New York, NY, 2005", 2005, pigmented ink print. On view at Julie Saul Gallery.

Brian Ulrich, "Candy Store, New York, NY, 2005", 2005, pigmented ink print. On view at Julie Saul Gallery.

Brian Ulrich, Is This Place Great or What: Photographs and Artifacts
Julie Saul Gallery, 535 West 22nd Street, 6th Floor. Through May 5th.

More photographs on American consumption by Brian Ulrich. Ulrich's best-known works have depicted shoppers deep in thought or empty shopping vistas; people looking frustrated, envious, surprised, entranced as they browse the grocery aisles or are handed clothing items. In one work, a small girl looks like a deer in headlights, caught in a field of oversized Winnie the Poohs. We've seen this idea many times before, but still, clicking through his website has a hypnotic effect. The new series at Julie Saul Gallery will focus on shopping centers that have recently shut down. (Whitney Kimball)

Jessica Labatte
Golden Gallery, 120 Elizabeth Street. April 14th through May 20th. Opening April 14th, 6-9pm.

In 2008, Golden Gallery started in Chicago, and quickly made a name for itself by picking up the crème de la crème of art school graduates. Just last year, Golden Gallery hoped to add to their Midwest success by adding a venue in the LES where they showcase many of the same Chicago-based artists. For some time, photographer Jessica Labatte has been whispered about as a possible breakout star, if only she'd get a solo show here in the city—she's even had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Now, finally, it's happened. Let's see if her jubilantly colored, off-kilter still-lifes live up to the hype. (Corinna Kirsch)

Robert Moskowitz's Envelope Series (1962-63)
Kerry Schuss, 34 Orchard Street. April 14th through May 18th.

Formerly KS Art, Kerry Schuss is opening his new digs in Lisa Cooley's former space. As a fan of both his program and the location (ground floor, in the heart of the Lower East Side's gallery district) we couldn't be happier.

Schuss is known for his ability to find underrecognized talent from the past, and he’s opening with Robert Moskowitz's Envelope Series. The show consists of air mail, regular, and manila envelopes that mysteriously float on top of washed backgrounds. A Leo Castelli Gallery artist from the 60’s, these works led Moskowitz to be one of the first artists associated with the Pop Art movement. (Paddy Johnson)

Adam Baumgold Gallery, 60 East 66th Street. Through April 21st.

This show looks like fun. Comic greats like Charles Burns, Julie Doucet, Robert Crumb, Seth, and New Yorker artist Saul Steinberg now showing work in a big group show with painters like Ed Ruscha, Mark Kostabi, Marcel Dzama, and George Grosz. With artists who share a fascination with the subconscious and distorted figuration, this looks like a contemporary answer to the Whitney Museum's Real/Surreal. (Whitney Kimball)

Anne Collier
Anton Kern Gallery, 532 West 20th Street. Through May 12th.

Yes, the “deconstructing the photographic gaze” conversation has been beaten to a bloody pulp, but Anne Collier does it well. Whereas this conversation can become totally robotic, Collier's is a more emotional sensibility; the chosen imagery, often detached and sexist commercial views of women, creates a weird and surprising exchange between the many people who compose a photograph. Plus, she's one of the few people who does eyeball art we actually like.


Jessica Craig-Martin, "Turf 'n' Turf, Child Abuse Benefit, New York, 2008", 2010. Available at the BAM benefit.

Jessica Craig-Martin, "Turf 'n' Turf, Child Abuse Benefit, New York, 2008", 2010. Available at the BAM benefit.

Be A Good Person:


BAM Benefit
Works on view at BAM, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn. Online silent auction April 11th through April 22nd.

Ever since AFC's founding editor got hammered at BAM's benefit auction, we've been recommending the event and the cause. And it's not just because we like booze. BAM curator David Harper does a better job than anyone we know at securing great works of art and offering them up on the block for extraordinarily low prices. Highlights this year include Sarah Braman, Liz Magic Laser, Christian Marclay, a fantastically-matched Andy Warhol polaroid of Martha Graham, and, our favorite, Rob Pruitt. (Paddy Johnson)

Momenta Benefit
Momenta Art, 56 Bogart St. Wednesday, April 25th, 6-10pm. $200 includes admission for two and a work of art. Preview Exhibition: April 6th through 23rd.

For as low as $200, lucky participants in Momenta Art's annual benefit will be able to take home one work by over 200 artists, including Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Ted Gahl, Gina Beavers, Kate Gilmore, Angela Dufresne, Mira Schor, Eve Sussman, and Lisa Kirk.

This is a mouth-watering prize for anyone who's been following the New York art scene, and a handy introduction to some new work. It's also a chance to give back to a charity organization which enables emerging and underrepresented artists to make work which is not market-friendly. It’s important that they keep doing what they’re doing; you can make that possible.

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