Gallery Hopping in Tribeca
I live in a loft in SoHo so my earliest gallery hopping meant walking across the street or around the corner to see the latest shows. Openings were always crowded and Ivan Karp, Paula Cooper and Leo Castelli were busy making the rounds, escorting potential collectors into private back rooms.
When the galleries fled SoHo for Chelsea, my walk turned into a subway ride, the C or the E and some long, often windy, west-side blocks approaching the river. The galleries were big and slick but the intimacy of SoHo was gone. In Soho, you almost always ran into a neighbor. In Chelsea, things were more upscale, and more formal. There was definitely more stainless steel. Chelsea was unmistakably the “art business.”
So, it was with relief when galleries began to appear in nearby Tribeca — on Lispenard, Walker and White Streets, with a sprinkling on Franklin and Leonard. A ten minute walk from my SoHo loft, felt perfect and it often came with the feeling of entering the old SoHo. Some of the galleries still had their original wood floors; others had replaced them with white oak.
That was the case at the Canada Gallery at 60 and 61 Lispenard Street where Katherine Bernhardt’s “I’m Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?” is up until February 25th. A knock-out, wake you up show, where Bernhardt’s use of colors, especially yellow and pink, painted and sprayed, makes you pay attention to Bart Simpson not as a rebellious TV cartoon character but rather as an important icon who shaped our lives, taught us how to live, and made us see the seriousness in humor and the humor in seriousness. It’s hard to avoid “I can’t promise I’ll try, but I’ll try to try” (2022), the centerpiece in the show, a work that spans more than twenty feet in width. It is hard to forget Bernhardt’s rendition of Bart’s yellow tush.
Nearby at James Cohan at 48 Walker street (up until February 15) there’s “The Invisible Plot of Things” an exhibit of the Venezuelan artist Elsa Gramcko’s work (1925–1994). It’s a beautiful exhibit covering three decades of Gramcko’s art with knobs, and locks , rusty metals and car parts and her remarkable texture — so dark, so gritty, and so mysterious. Her work is brave and brilliant, each piece concealing some secret.
At 52 Walker (up until April 1) Gordon Matta-Clark is paired up with Pope.L in an exhibit entitled Impossible Failures. Projected on the walls is Matta-Clark’s iconic Conical Intersect (1975) and Bingo X Ninths (1974). And, there are those familiar circles cut in the walls, too, a reminder of Clark’s destructive creativity. Circles, taking me back to the old days in SoHo.