Favorite picks from The Armory Show

by     /    March 05, 2010   

the armory show

I just returned from this year’s Armory Show. Wow, that place is crazy. An overwhelmingly huge warehouse of identical white cubes stuffed with art. It’s a gallery on steroids. And beside my very sore feet, I also managed to find some fascinating and beautiful work among all of the cacophony. Here are some of the artists that really stood out for me.

  • Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison had one piece from their series Counterpoint. This deceptively simple work caught my eye from way across the hall and sucked me in. As always, their work dazzles and inspires me.
  • Hitoshi Kuriyama‘s abstract splotches of color. As I looked at it, the gallerist’s first words to me were: “You’re an artist?” Sheesh, did my mock turtleneck give me away?
  • Moyra Davey‘s Copperhead series: macro photographs of corroded pennies (ah, right up my alley!)
  • Paul Graham‘s elegiac photographs of remote gas stations
  • Todd Hido‘s haunting landscapes. The guy’s got mad skills.
  • The Starn Brother‘s Attracted to Light: I’ve seen this image so many times, I almost walked right past it. But in person, it’s delicacy is note-perfect.
  • Michael Eastman‘s Shotgun House: simple yet powerful composition. Shows the power of straight on “pure” photography.
  • Michael Wolf‘s Architecture of Density. Simply mesmerizing.
  • Catherine Murphy’s charming paintings of wood knots
  • Ola Kolehmainen‘s beautiful abstractions
  • Myoung Ho Lee‘s series of photos of trees isolated from their environment.

Of course, in addition to all this good stuff, the Armory also had a lot of art that was, well, less good. So many booths seemed to be filled with art that was trying so hard to be so darn “clever.” Trying desperately to push the same buttons that have been pushed over and over again. The same tired visual jokes, the same snarky comments about our culture (We’re very consumer-oriented? You don’t say!), the same political symbols (one piece had a zombie Uncle Sam in it. Seriously. What is this, art school?) Whatever. I’m glad I was able to quickly tune this noise out, and push on to all of the good stuff.

Of course, my favorite thing at the show wasn’t a work of art at all. It was this one lone window, squeezed between two booths. that looked out over the harbor. After being so overstimulated, it was an amazingly calm and poignant moment. The small group of people gathered with me, looking out at the water with quiet smiles on their faces, seemed to agree.

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Comments on 'Favorite picks from The Armory Show'

Caroline  (March 6th, 2010):

Thank you Daniel, I really enjoyed following those links and looking at the work.

Browsing around the Starn Brother’s website I came across their incredible bamboo structures and the photographs they take of them. This work seems to link to the work of Andy Goldsworthy that I particularly like and gives me a bridge back to my work.

I wish I could get to the show for myself.

Kesha Bruce  (March 8th, 2010):

Excellent reporting! And I was lol@ “less good”.

I too am sick of everyone trying to be so darn clever. I’m working up the courage to go to Art Basel this year. Last time I went, I got a headache from rolling my eyes so hard at all the “less good” stuff.

What’s so wrong with being straight-forward and earnest?!

Daniel Sroka  (March 8th, 2010):

The worst of the “clever” art was a series of paintings that just had the words “just another painting” on them. Sigh. You *have* to be kidding me! It’s like the pranks we used to play in college, when we’d put gallery labels on water fountains, etc. I couldn’t believe that a gallery dedicated an entire booth at the Armory Show to this “art”.

Mary Anne Davis  (March 8th, 2010):

Thanks for the review, Daniel. I have a couple of booths to write about that I enjoyed, installations, a bit clever but poignant, too. Glad to find you in here.