Jen's Blog

Brooklyn Openings and Shows: Continued…

Friday, April 9th, 2010

After visiting the Boiler@Pierogi (see below) my Virgil, Garry Nichols took me to Janet Kurnatowski Gallery to see Ben LaRocco and Craig Olsen’s show “Love’s Uncomprehending Smile”.  First off,  I was totally charmed by the gallery’s corner space on the intersection of  Norman and Moultre streets in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.  The show was beautifully lit and the effect was understated and elegant.  Ben and Craig’s artworks are a whimsical voyage through quasi-nautical themes, naif folk genres, and outsider art references.  It was as if the two had just returned from sailing around the world and then lived to tell the tale with this exhaustive body of work!   Strange dragons mingled with staring eyes, deep whirlpools butted up against mythological  stick figures and random pictograms.  There may not have intentionally been a narrative but I couldn’t help relating one piece to the other as the intermingled installation created conversations about and between themselves.

Opening of "Love's Uncompromising Smile" Ben La Rocco and Craig Olsen at Janet Kurnatowski Gallery

Janet Kurnatowski was the beautiful Calypso to this odyssey and as a newly minted gallerista myself, I left with the mental note to always dress one’s best at an opening as a little glamour goes a long way in presenting art!

Brooklyn Excursion: Studio Visit and Gallery Openings

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

For the first time in 5 months, it felt like it will be summer again so I donned a spring skirt and drove down to the City to do a studio visit with Garry Nichols.  I had checked out his website ( and thought I had a bead on what he was up to.  Vibrant paintings with bold, striding patterns clearly showed on my monitor and meeting Garry the week before made me want to come down and see his work live.   I’m very glad I did as the internet does not do the color, scale and gutsy brushwork any justice.  The large canvases are just barely big enough to contain the free flowing flora and whimsical imagery.  Small precise old sailing ships explore the negative space between enormous leaf-like forms.  Bold stone heads stare down the viewer from a jungle of vibrating waves.  The paradox of space: what should be big is very small and what should be small, is enormous creates a fantastic distortion that torques the pictorial space.  The feeling of far-off lands, of maybe even the most far-off land of Nichol’s native Tasmania lends his art a sense of adventure, of discovery of a new state of nature.

Studio View: Garry Nichols

Garry also had come smaller drawings/paintings of botanical subjects in black, burnt sienna and white that made me think of ancient greek vases in their simple economy of form and the bold execution of brushwork.

Paintings on Black Foamcore by Garry Nichols

Afterwards, Garry served as my Virgil and took me on a brief tour of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, stopping first at an opening at Boiler@Pierogi of large-scale ink drawings by Dawn Clements.  The huge boiler that is the namesake of the gallery almost steals the show as it is the first thing you see.  A massive relic of the industrial age, its sheer size makes it a work of art in and of itself.

Boiler at Boiler Pierogi 191 N 14th St Brooklyn

Dawn did well to make the subject of her largest drawing (app. 15 X 25 feet) the boiler itself, inviting the behemoth to be part of the party.  From a distance, the ink on paper looked like a grave rubbing but on closer examination, the nervous sumi-ink marks create a dark sullen matrix of the now silent machine.

"Boiler" by Dawn Clements Ink on Paper

First Opening at 11 Cross Street Gallery

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

I didn’t know what to expect on the first opening of the Gallery but I certainly didn’t expect the warm groove of this occassion!  For over 30 years, I have been going to openings of other galleries as audience, participant, curator and once and a while, subject and this show “Rock &” had something that no other show I have ever been involved with had: in a word, it was  fun!  The show itself is an innovative amalgamation of sculpture, painting, and performance with visitor/participants bringing their own ideas about what rock is to the event.  One participant, Jim, brought a spread of delicious looking dips of various color, small nut-like kernals, blue chips and black grated topping with the invitation to make an art piece out of what wasn’t food at all but different clays, stones,gravel and shale.

Music seemed to appear out of nowhere and at one point, I was chatting with painter Nadia Petrov and a banjo-player joined us plucking softly some traditional songs.  Suddenly, it seemed at the same time that Nadia and I recognized a tune and found ourselves singing along to all three stanzas of “You are My Sunshine, my only sunshine…”  Then one of the artists, LDDD summoned the crowd into the main gallery which was now illuminated only by a reading light and the red glow of the space heater.  He slowly started to recite a chanting poem about rocks, dreams and art while a digeredoo and two drums kept him company.  Another artist, Are The, made his way to his installation of sharp chirt rocks and lay down on it in the darkness.  The gallery space had become a cave and we were huddled round a propane bonfire  looking towards an opening, guided by prophets.


I don’t think that there was a plan per se for any of this spontaneity- it all just sort of happened.  There will be a  second opening this Sat April 3 from 2-7.

Video of performance by LDDD, Are The and company can be found here:

are the rests on Esopus Chirt installation