6.27.2012

Goddesses, Revolutionaries, Femmes Fatales, Wild Women, Bad Girls and Warriors

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In Twisted Sisters at the Dodge Gallery:
Nancy Spero, To the Revolution, 2001, handprinted and printed collage on paper, 48.5 x 19.75 inches. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong

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Forget the madonna/whore dichotomy. That’s a male construct. When women portray women, including themselves, a whole new set of identities emerge. In six exhibitions this spring—five solos and a curated group show—goddesses, warriors, femmes fatales, wild women, bad girls, bumpkins and a host of related personas take over.
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The artists include veterans like Audrey Flack and Linda Stein; those who live on through their work, such as Nancy Spero and Ana Mendieta; art-fair powerhouses like Mickalene Thomas; and relative newcomers like Rebecca Morgan. Here’s a look at what I saw: .
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Audrey Flack: Reimagining the Archetype of Queens and Goddesses
Gary Snyder Gallery, Chelsea
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Love Conquer All: Looks like Medusa, but it's Amor Vincit Omni
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The installation photo below gives you the scale. Image from the gallery website
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Audrey Flack: Sculpture, 1989-2012 at the Gary Snyder Gallery featured the work of the hyperrealist-painter-turned sculptor. I have to admit that I'm not fond of the Flack esthetic. The work seems out of time, neither classical nor contemporary, but how could I do a post like this without it?
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Maquettes of public commissions. I'm not sure if all of these have been realized, but the center maquette represents one of four 20-foot gilded bronze statues made as part of the Gateway to the City of Rockville, South Carolina. Flanking it are American Athena, left, and Egyptian Rocket Goddess.
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The installation photo below gives you the scale. Image from the gallery website
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Who is this indigenous figure with the heart, the artillery shell and the features of a young Audrey Flack? I will let you know when I find out
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Marybeth Edelson: Revolutionary
Accola Grieffen Gallery, Chelsea
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View into the gallery. The works shown below are visible in this shot
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In  Hail to the Feminists Who Produced the Revolution: Works by Mary Beth Edelson from 1971 to 2012, Accola Grieffen presented the retrospective of an artist who has worked in a variety of mediums over the past four decades, all in service to a feminist vision.
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Some Living American Women Artists: Last Supper, 1972- 2012, digital archival print with mixed media, 23.5" x 36.75" (Disclaimer: I acquired one of these prints from the exhibition)
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Above: Ana y Yo, mixed media
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Both works, in mixed media, are visible on the far wall in the installation view above. The image of Ana Mendieta with her husband, Carl Andre, on her forehead echoes the iconic Frida Khalo paintings with Diego Rivera. (Andre was famously acquitted of having killed Mendieta, who fell from a high-rise window, but doubt lingers)
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Below: What You See is What You Get, 1972, mixed media

Goddess Head, single/yellow, 1975, collage and water color on silver print, 8 x 8 inches
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Eva Lake: Femmes Fatales
Frosch and Portman, Lower East Side
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Installation view of Judd Women Targets
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In her first New York solo, Judd Women Targets, Eva Lake showed collages from three bodies of work, Judd Montages, Anonymous Women, and Targets. In several of her collages the women and the targets come together, a visual image as disturbing as it is compelling (when have women not been targets of something?). I include some of Lake's Anonymous Women here: the femmes fatales of the forties, with their Betty Grable legs and Bette Davis eyes, mysterious and unattainable, like Susan Hayward below.
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Though you missed the show at Frosh and Portman, you can see work from Lake's Target series at Chris Ashley's Some Walls exhibition space Oakland, California, in September. They won't be the same ones, though, because the wall labels at Frosh and Portman were covered in red dots.

Target No. 10 (Susan),  2008, 15 x 11 1/2 inches
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Above and below: from the Anonymous Women series, 2011-2012

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Wild Women, all 30 of Them
Dodge Gallery, Lower East Side
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Above, view from front to back, left wall: Summer Wheat painting, Lorna Williams sculpture

Below, front to back, right wall: Judith Linhares painting
These two images courtesy of Dodge Gallery

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Twisted Sisters, curated by gallery owner Kristen Dodge and independent curator Janet Phelps, was a compendium of what my mother would have called "unladylike and undignified behavior." The curators strove to incite and unsettle, repulse and amuse, which is exactly what they did in a sprawling, multigenerational show of work by 30 artists, 11 of whom I've singled out here. In part it was the subject matter—Summer Wheat's self-pleasuring figure greets you when you enter—as well as materials used messily and with abandon. Ah, sex, mess and excess! The space felt a bit like walking into a giant Id, an experience of don't-mess-with-me badness that I can only describe as extremely liberating. 

Farther down the right wall:  Xander Marro grid of silkscreens and mixed-media diaromas of women holding guns
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Gallery view from back to front
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In the lower level space, from left: Patricia Cronin, Alison Schulnik, Serena Cole, Katherine Bernhardt; Mickalene Thomas sculpture

Mickalene Thomas, Brawlin' Spitfire Wrestlers, 2007, resin, paint, Swarovski crystals; courtesy of Lehman Maupin Gallery
This and two previous images courtesy of Dodge Gallery.

Below, on the other side of the lower level: Four photographs by the late Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Facial Cosmetic Variations)
.The photographs document the artist with shampoo in her hair. I pulled these images from the internet, so they are not shown in the horizontal order in which they were installed in the gallery
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Rebecca Morgan: Bad Girls
Asya Geisberg Gallery, Chelsea
The Smoker, 2012, graphite and oil on panel, 26 x 22 inches
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In Cabin Fever at the Asya Geisberg Gallery, the recent MFA graduate Rebecca Morgan showed a collection of transgressive dope smokin, Cheeto-eatin, fleshy figures—"bumpkins," she calls them—who could have been the love children of  R. Crumb and J. Clampett. These are the People of Walmart when the're not out shopping. And was it me, or did they all look alike, including the ugly figures described as Self Portraits? I'll be honest, they creeped me out. But it's just the artist exorcising (or exercising) her Appalachian demons. One of the reasons she can pull this off—and I'm not sure she does so entirely—is that her lighthanded combination of graphite drawing and oil washes mitigate the heaviness of her figures and their weighty circumstances. 
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Above: Self Portrait post MFA wearing a smock of a former employer, 2012

Below: Homecoming Picnic, 2012
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Selection of  page-size "self portraits" and "Bumpkin" drawings
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Below: I love New York, 2011, 30 x 24 inches. This is an actual self portrait
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Linda Stein: Warrior Women
Flomenhaft Gallery, Chelsea
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Installation view of The Fluidity of Gender
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With a collection of wall-hung and pedestaled sculptures, and of body costume that is presented as sculpture, Linda Stein challenges gender roles. I'm not sure I see "fluidity" here. What I see are female forms in decidedly unfleshy materials: wood, metal, leather. I would describe them as the embodiment of women who take no shit. If that's fluidity, I'll take it. I must admit that I'm partial to Wonder Woman, substance and shadow, shown below.
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Justice for All, 2010, collage and archival inks, paper and wood, 79 x 24 x 9 inches
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9 comments:

Linda Starr said...

Love the blond Lake.

annell said...

Great post!!!

annell said...

Seems like these exhibits were dreamed so long ago... the story is "long" to tell. Good to see women artists still" working it out, telling their story."

I remember a quote by Audrey Flack, "If you can't paint it good, paint it big. If you can't paint it big, Paint it red." We can all paint it red.

Danila said...

Nice to see a historical and contemporary blend of artists on the theme of, "Women Who Run With the Wolves." I love the self portrait, "I love New York," it captures a beauty in the acceptance of who we are.

Lori Buff said...

It must be Goddess day, at least for our blogs.
I love the art in this post, some really strong images of women. I'm very curious about "I Love New York."
Thanks

Nancy Natale said...

Oh, Yeah! Powerful women and women in power (including the artists) never gets old. This is a wonderful collection of images and shows. Thanks, Joanne, for reporting this unladylike collection.

namastenancy said...

Amazing work, amazing women, amazing artists - and you are amazing for bringing it all to us.

Anonymous said...

LOVE DODGE GALLERY!!!

Great post, wonderful work, and I am enjoying your insightful statements.

Eva said...

Thanks Joanne, for posting my work and curating it into this great collection!