Art Beat - NOVEMBER 2010

Art Beat

By Lindsey Peckham

Collette Blanchard Gallery

Jessica Ann Peavy

Emergency Contraception

This Lower East Side gem of a gallery is featuring single-channel videos by Jessica Ann Peavy through the end of the year; videos that act as confessionals for four characters who divulge their romantic encounters. It's a fourth wall-shattering trick, and as a result, we as audience members call into question the truthfulness and ultimately the integrity of the confessors, as their stories twist and overlap, juxtaposing the mundane with the outrageous. The videos, titled "Parables," draw inspiration from folk tales as much as from reality television and provide an intimate and fascinating window into the nature of modern relationships.

The Guggenheim

Chaos and Classicism

Have you been to the Guggenheim recently? Neither had I, so I headed over to check out their latest exhibit, "Chaos and Classicism," a study of post-World War I avant-garde artists and the effect that the overwhelmingly machine-driven war had on them, as well as on humanity. There was an enormous shift away from the perpetually innovative Cubist and Futurist movements towards a more classical style, prominently featuring sculptures, female nudes, and classical styles and proportions that were a stylistic turn away from what was understood at the time as "the war to end all wars."

But, as the exhibit brutally reminds us, this was not the case. Juxtaposed against this comfortable, eye-pleasing classicism are jarring, violent drawings by Otto Dix, chronicling the havoc wreaked by the war. Ascending the spiraling galleries, one moves toward an uncomfortable closure and a menacing darkness, and the experience is all the more thrilling, if discomforting, for the knowledge of the history that lies ahead. All in all, it's an unsettling, timely, must-see exhibit. It runs through January 9th of next year.

Madison Square Park

Jim Campbell

Scattered Light

Art in public spaces in New York can be a serious hit-or-miss (think Brooklyn Bridge waterfalls, orange Central Park gates, and those colorful pianos everywhere this summer that encouraged Broadway babies and crazy people alike to warble in public, etc.), but one sure bet this fall is Madison Square Park, where the general public gets to enjoy a little aesthetic upgrade to the space best known for the monumental lines at Shake Shack.

Once the sun goes down, Jim Campbell's "Scattered Light" is an endlessly fascinating light show, where shadowy figures dart across a framework of almost two thousand light bulbs, hanging serenely among the trees. Campbell recorded commuters dashing through Grand Central and reproduced their hurried gaits on this three-dimensional curtain of homemade-LED lights. This is the most eye-catching of the three parts of the exhibit – the other two, "Voices From the Subway" and "Broken Window" also use low-resolution images to create a sense of motion without borders, limits, or by artistic extension. You have until February to experince this gorgeous installation.

The Morgan Library

Degas: Drawings and Sketchbooks

The sketches on display at the Morgan Library (through January 21st) are a beautiful introduction to the Impressionist master, including studies of famous paintings, portraits, and his acclaimed Three Studies of a Dancer. It's easy to get lost among the diverse subjects of his keen eye in this lovely space. Equally arresting as his famous ballerinas are his studies of racehorses and jockeys, and even his landscapes. Truthfully, no one captures graceful forms and movements quite like him. Whether you're a Degas fanatic (like myself) or experiencing his graceful style for the first time, this exhibit is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Lindsey Peckham is a recent graduate of New York University with degrees in both Liberal Arts and Business.

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