Something for Everybody
By Piri Halasz
Image courtesy of Sideshow Gallery
Oddly enough, even Clement Greenberg might have relished "Fourth Annual Merry Peace," which was recently staged at Sideshow in Williamsburg. This is not because it was exclusively devoted to the sort of art that he admired, but rather because it was a cheerfully eclectic mix of mo and pomo, with no fewer than 169 artists listed on the invitation, and many exhibiting more than one work. In its eclecticism, this show resembles the "Post Painterly Abstraction" show that Greenberg organized in 1964, and that included postmodernists like Ellsworth Kelly and senior abstract expressionists like John Ferren, in addition to color-field painters like Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski. I must add, however, that Richard Timperio, the proprietor of Sideshow, reminded one of the artists in "Merry Peace" of quite another ancestor figure. When I visited the gallery, Timperio said, "Paul Resika told me this show was like Duchamp in that there is something for everybody, and gives everybody space."
A typically modest Billyburg gallery, Sideshow consists of two smallish rooms with high ceilings, hidden behind a colorful, graffiti-decorated exterior. For this show, the gallery was hung floor to ceiling with paintings, photographs, drawings, and wall pieces. Most of this work was small, but some of it was quite sizeable, especially the free-standing works in the middle of the gallery. One of them was an assemblage with a white plastic core lit from within that looked vaguely like a headless snowman and was (appropriately enough) by Frosty Myers, an artist who in the 60s was known as a minimalist.
A sizeable installation by Steve Gerberich was called Island of Dr. Gerbeau. It click-clacked along, with tubes of bubbling lit-up liquids and an extensive selection of plastic animals, ranging in size from a pony large enough for a small child to ride on to bisected dinosaurs three and four inches long. Valessa Monk was represented by Necklace, an enormous chain of large grey pulleys hung against the wall and supporting a brown insensate mass that sat upon the floor, while Deborah Masters contributed a big crucifix with figures painted on it, mostly women in shawls. Frank Marshal contributed five broken marble slabs on the floor, with cryptic carved lettering on each apparently chronicling an unhappy love affair. Among the photographers were Tooker Paige and William Knipscher; among the representational painters were Resika and Frances Jetter; and among the postmodernist abstractionists were Bill Jensen and Juri Morioka.
Among the many other artists worth mentioning were Liz-n-Val, William Tucker, Phong Bui and Loren Munk, but what made this show so special for me was the relatively limited number abstractions that were either by modernists or harmonized with them. Although I may not see postmodernist work that I like as well every day of the week, postmodernism itself is far, far more commonly on view in New York.
Among those modernist (or relatively modernist) pieces I’d single out were a tall, narrow black painting by John Griefen with blue underpainting; two vigorous works on paper with pale, cloudy shapes by Larry Poons, a large rose-and-green diamond painting by Paula DeLuccia; a large, splashy composition by Dan Christensen, a softly-modulated smaller picture with raised swirls of orange, maroon, black and gray by James Walsh; a nifty three-dimensional piece by Ann Walsh composed of four rectilinear bars of orange, blue, yellow and aqua, a thickly-impastoed acrylic on canvas by Francine Tint, a brightly colored small floor sculpture by Peter Reginato, a lively semi-abstraction by George Madarasz, and representative work by Ronnie Landfield, Fran Kornfeld and Micky Schon. I single them out because that’s my interest, but Timperio, the proprietor, is not nearly as narrow as I am. He’s a painter himself, and a pretty good one (though he relies on other galleries to exhibit his work). He’s been living in Williamsburg since 1979, when it was still inhabited by street gangs rather than latte parlors, and although this is only the fourth annual Peace show at his current location, the first was actually staged way back in 1994, in a Williamsburg restaurant that let him use it as a gallery. "The room becomes my art," he explained. "I handle it like a painting. It’s a challenge to put so many things together and make it all work."….
© Copyright Piri Halasz 2005. This article is excerpted and adapted from Ms. Halasz’s online column, From the Mayor’s Doorstep, http://piri.home.mindspring.com