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Spencer Bronwstone Gallery: Red White Blue Group Show, Summer 2005, NYC

From: Hayden Kimball
Category: Art
Date: 28 July 2005


Red White Blue By Hayden Kimball

The summer group show at Spencer Brownstone Gallery on Wooster Street titled “Red White Blue” provides a remarkably large cross section of popular themes in contemporary art. This salon-style exhibition includes almost fifty artists working in various mediums with different formal and conceptual concerns, making for a showing that rivals such museum blockbusters like PS1’s Greater New York.

Deftly curated by Erin Krause, Sadie Laska and Mark Orange, “Red White Blue” is not just a flash in the pan summer show, but a compelling collection of well-made and well thought-out art objects by many young up-and-coming art makers. They asked artists of various ages and backgrounds to create work that utilized the three colors from the title of the show. There were no restraints on size, concept, or mediums. The show is grouped into three sections, that of Red, White and Blue. However, the sections slightly run into each other, and many artists made work that uses one or all three of the colors. Using this basic format of three commonly used colors, the curators were able to bring about a conceptual show that lives up to its title. Neither political nor disaffected, the collection of work straddles the concerns of art making today, such as formal vs. conceptual, sculpture vs. painting or the melding of various mediums and styles into one single, congruous piece. Betsy Ross couldn’t have stitched this together better herself.

The salon hanging packs a punch, whereas every available space on the wall is utilized, forcing relationships between every art piece. This achieves an inter-art dialogue that is not often seen in larger, rambling group exhibitions. The opening night brought out hundreds of people who overflowed the gallery and filled the street with an impromptu block party, making for a classic art “scene and be seen” event.

The show includes well known younger artists already hot on the scene such as Miami painters, Hernan Bas and Naomi Fischer, who deliver expected but compelling figurative works. Fisher has a smaller painting of a woman screaming or writhing out of a fiery red background, dramatic and weird, which she has become know for. She is definitely one of the better psychosexual drama painters out there.

There is also work by rising star New York artists such as Simone Shubuck and Spencer Sweeney, who offer delicate drawing and mixed media, fine examples of the ‘termite’ style of drawing Jerry Saltz has been talking about. Interesting as well are the pieces by brother artists from New York, Gordon Hull and Tim Hull, who offer ‘blue’ painting with a conceptual bent. Tim Hull’s abstract altarpieces are a decidedly fresh take on formal conceptualism, referencing classical European altar composition but with strange geometric icons. Gordon Hull’s large textual piece blends simple image with words on a ready-made window, an updated Basquiat homage, but graphic in its intention. The piece says SINK with an image of an anchor. Kon Trubkovich, another young New York artist, paints a burst of red light in a photo-realist style, abstract yet representational, which is one of the more interesting works in the red section. The collective RURAL submitted a white, taped-up bale of hay, stamped with their name, a reference to rural farm culture, packaged and ready to be commercialized. It’s a great example of the crafty political conceptualism offered by the collective.

Red White Blue is a pleasure to browse through. It gives an insight into what contemporary artists are thinking about and struggling with, in a much more lucid and straightforward way than most biennials or museum shows communicate. It doesn’t have the same agenda or politics that shadow larger museum surveys, but delivers a refreshing look at a cross section of young international artists who are making simply good work. The exhibition runs through August 13. The Spencer Brownstone Gallery is located at 39 Wooster Street, New York City.

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