Upper East Side Art Crawl

By Peggy Roalf   Friday May 27, 2022

A few hours spent browsing art in the townhouse galleries that populate NYCs Upper East Side offers quiet contemplation of great art, mostly not under glass, along with a leisurely stroll along tree-lined streets with numerous choices for an espresso-bar rest stop. Following are my picks from a recent weekday afternoon.

Unnatural Nature: Post Pop Landscapes at Acquavella Gallery

Presenting myriad conceptual and formal approaches for picturing our natural world, the works on view, curated by Todd Bradway, are united in their highly stylized approach to depicting landscape, as well as a hyperreal sense of color, form, and perspective, which together serve to create heightened and vivid representations of our modern world.  Above: Works by Makiko Kudo, Nicole Wittenberg, and Daniel Heidkamp

The exhibition features a diverse group of paintings, including those that skew towards more traditional, perceptually driven, though often distorted,  portrayals of our surroundings to others that exhibit a more abstracted, expressive flatness, connected by their shared mediation with modern modes of perception, such as photography, the iPhone, billboards, video games, and television.  The subjects of these works themselves are as diverse as the methods to depict them, ranging from dreamlike forest scenes, moody nocturnals, and dramatic aerial views of the world, to perspective shifting cityscapes and hallucinatory, yet melancholic, views of the sea.

Through June 10 at Acquavella Gallery, 18 East 79th Street, New York, NY Info



Francis Bacon: Faces & Figures at Skarstedt Gallery

The exhibition brings together a group of masterworks spanning the 1950s to the 1970s featuring depictions of some of his most beloved friends, lovers, and muses—Peter Lacy, George Dyer, Muriel Belcher, and Henrietta Moraes. Together with an intimate self-portrait and a portrait of Pope Pius XII, the exhibition traces poignant moments of loss and companionship through the perennial influences that have come to define Bacon's oeuvre. Above: Three Studies for a Portrait, 1975

Bacon's raw images contort their subjects in such a radical manner that they permanently altered the genre of figurative painting in the twentieth century. Yet even while the figures twist and writhe in distortion, there remains a distinct sense of truth in his work. As Milan Kundera noted, "Looking at Bacon's portraits, I am amazed that, despite their 'distortion', they all look like their subject…. However 'distorted', these portraits are faithful. That is what I find miraculous."

Through June 11 at Skarstedt Gallery, 20 East 79th Street, New York, NY Info



Frederlic Tuten at Harper’s Apartment

The octogenarian artist, art critic and novelist, whose most recent book about artists and the places that shaped them was just released, can be appreciated for his bright, expressive semi-abstract paintings currently on view at Harper’s Apartment. Colorful dancing marks made with pastel, ink and oil stick evoke a world where anything can happen—as long as you allow it to.

Through June 11. Harper’s Apartment, 51 East 74th Street, New York NY Info


Some People at Cheim & Read

Of all forms of narrative art, which gains momentum as social media becomes ever more numbing in post-pandemic times, portraiture has remained somewhat on the sidelines. Not surprising as the taint of celebrity seeps onto even the best efforts of artists who, like anyone else, must pay the rent. So one must look hard and often to fined heads that represent the artist’s intentions.

For me the search has (temporarily) ended with Some People, a show that’s both breathtaking and introspective, at Cheim & Read’s uptown gallery. The title comes from Steven Sondheim’s tune in Gypsy:

Some people sit on their butts;
Got the dream, yeah, but not the guts
That's living for some people
For some hum-drum people I suppose…

The artists represented here dream large. The organizer as well, who states that the show aims to ask what a portrait is and what it could be. Drawing on historical precedents, starting with a figure painted by Chaim Soutine from 1939, and continuing to the present, this collection of thirty-six works by thirty plus artists in a staggering variety of means is a wish fulfilled—at least for this writer.
Through June 10 at Cheim & Read, 23 East 67th Street, New York, NY. Info


Joan Snyder at Franklin Parrasch

Franklin Parrasch Gallery presents Joan Snyder, To Become a Painting, an exhibition comprising six large scale paintings created by the artist in her Woodstock, NY studio during the Covid-19 pandemic. The paintings reflect the artist’s engagement with the land, referencing the generative and vital state of earth and water and acknowledging impulses that access nature as a guide for connecting with the most fundamental human emotions.

“The modern tradition can continue to bring us glad tidings by taking us on extraordinary journeys to familiar places, but only on its own eccentric terms. The deal is you have to go without a map, and you can only get there on foot.”– Kirk Varnedoe and Adam Gopnik, High & Low (MoMA 1990) 

The shared space of high and low is Snyder’s signature domain. She weaves varied layers and densities of acrylic and oil paints in poetic concert with applied materials, from the commercially-produced—such as burlap, silk, cheesecloth, plastic grapes, and beads—to elements from nature including plant stems, seed pods, twigs, rose hips, dried grass, and straw. 

Through June 24 at Franklin Parrasch Gallery, 19 East 66th Street, New York, NY Info



Dana Hoey and Caitlin Cherry: Hello Trouble at Petzel Gallery

Dana Hoey and Caitlin Cherry will present Hello Trouble, a joint exhibition addressing the subject of the great American West. These two artists, from different generations, will unveil wildly different, yet related takes on the problem of how to best represent femininity. Cherry will show paintings, Hoey will show photographs. Cherry and Hoey decided to mount their work, which traffics in, and updates, deeply American iconography, next to each other so that the rich connections and differences between their unique creative processes, can be activated and clearly visible. Hello Trouble will be on view from May 19th until June 25th. Above: Dana Hoey, Black Jacket, 2022

“Power, sex and the image in culture are subjects that transfix me,” says Hoey. “Caitlin Cherry’s work engages with these themes, but from the perspective of a younger, more digital generation. I’m thrilled to show with her.” Says Cherry: “Dana and I met on social media and we were introduced as collaborators by the writer Aruna D’Souza. I appreciated her artwork’s investment in representations of women, particularly she was depicting women fighting and at the time I was into weightlifting and considering getting into fighting as a hobby. We both share a deep love for unruly women and their complex relationships.” Above: Caitlin Cherry, St. Elmo’s Fire (Cardi B Breaks Houston Rodeo Record and Keeps it Beyond Real) 2022

Through June 25 at Petzel Gallery, 35 East 67th Street, New York, NY Info


By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday May 25, 2022

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday May 19, 2022

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday May 18, 2022

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