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Baltimore and the so-called death of the gallery

April 6, 2013

In Gallery Four this afternoon, I bumped into one of our critics, Michael Farley, with Deana Haggag, one of B‘s 30 under 30 and curator of Gallery CA, and Paddy Johnson of the blog Art Fag City. As they were leaving, Johnson said, “We’ve only seen two spaces, but if it keeps up like this, you’ve kicked the Lower East Side’s ass.”*

The show was Lisa Dillin’s Stopgap. We love Dillin’s work, even though she’s not exactly a fan of ours. The show has all the hallmarks of Dillin’s blurring of the lines between nature and production. “Communal Drinking Source,”  a giant water fountain with 5 faucets and five astro-turned platforms around it, is particularly exciting. There has always been something austere about Dillin’s work, but this show sort of explodes that with a performative aspect. “Primal Tan” is an epic piece that requires, or allows, “viewers” to strip down and don batiked bathing suit/ Tarzan outfits and get a spray tan from the artist before sitting around on fake stone seats in the “Primal Tan Lounge.” We don’t often write about Kickstarter campaigns, but Dillin has one up, and she is asking for a mere $300 bucks to buy more swimwear for next week’s closing. This seems well worth it and since I had to miss the opening, I urge you to contribute and get tanned.

And speaking of Gallery CA, Jumbo Mumbo, a solo show of Seth Crawford’s sculptures opens tonight.

And a new space,  the Springsteen Gallery opens Dust-Off, its first show tonight, featuring works by Milton Melvvile Croisant III, Colin Foster, Margo Benson Malter, Nick Peelor, and Nick Vyssotsky. The gallery says the “selected works begin to recontextualize pieces of popular culture in order to investigate the relational systems they engender. The behaviors and by-products these systems nurture relate to characteristics of speed and delirium.”

Last night, Current Space opened Odd Logic, a collection of big sloppy (in a good way) painterly paintings and a solo show of photographs by Elle Perez, which is stunning both as art and as a kind of photojournalism.


And sophiajacob opened a really remarkable, simple and yet profound show by Harrison Tyler, who is only a junior at MICA. David Armacost, an artist and one of the proprietors of the gallery, said that they didn’t know Tyler at all, but he came to every opening and every talk and sat in the front. “He had that hunger.” When they showed him the basement, Tyler was fascinated, so they asked him to submit a proposal. When people walked into the opening last night, there was an immediate look of bafflement on their faces because there was nothing but the white cube. Is the opening tonight?  But there is a live feed of the basement in the back room of the gallery. Tyler set up the machinery down there so that the camera would be randomly guided to different parts of the space, where it will remain for a random duration. A laser shines directly into the camera, and then it will shift. It’s got all the hallmarks of a horror film, without any horror and the effect is exquisitely unsettling. But the real joy, and surprise, comes when you kneel down on the floor in the main gallery and look through a small peep-hole, to see a digital image of yourself from above, looking through the hole. It is like when Luke Skywalker cuts off Darth Vader’s head and finds his own face under the helmet.

Last week, Jerry Saltz wrote about the death of the gallery, but comes to a positive conclusion: “If the galleries are emptier, the limos gone, the art advisers taking meetings elsewhere, and the glitz offshore, the audience will have shrunk to something like it was well before the gigantic expansion of the art world. When I go to galleries, I now mainly see artists and a handful of committed diligent critics, collectors, curators, and the like. In this quiet environment, it may be possible for us to take back the conversation. Or at least have conversations. While the ultrarich will do their deals from 40,000 feet, we who are down at ground level will be engaging with the actual art—maybe not in Chelsea, where the rents are getting too high, but somewhere. That’s fine with me.”

Well, we’ve never had the limos and the high rents or the ultrarich–or “the” art world. Saltz’s positive vision of the future is our reality.

* The other show is Nudashank’s Conor Backman solo show, which I am intentionally leaving out here for a full review in next week’s paper.




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