Dan Beachy-Quick

  • Jill O’Bryan, NM.1.22, 2022, graphite on paper, 96 × 60".

    Jill O’Bryan

    Moon, mesa, sky, air—with singular intimacy, Jill O’Bryan attends to the fundamental elements of earthly life. Hers is an attention that attunes not only to the wondrous matter of the world—striated rock, juniper branch—but to the mystical geometries that bind this planet together, and us to it.

    A small color photograph, Mesa #59, 2022, quietly acted as the crux of her exhibition “Breathing with the Elements.” In this image, the moon hovers above the New Mexico mesa where O’Bryan lives. Every other photo in her 2021–22 “Mesa” series is black-and-white, but here the sky’s deep cobalt stuns the

  • Sarah McKenzie, Sentinel (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum), 2021, oil and acrylic on canvas, 54 × 72".

    Sarah McKenzie

    The entrance to the project room at David B. Smith Gallery framed Sarah McKenzie’s Sentinel (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum), 2021, a large canvas that, as its title implies, acted as a kind of watchman for this intimate space. The work depicts a museum guard’s empty stool standing next to a scrim-covered window, its louvred blinds casting their shadow ladder behind. On a perpendicular wall is an austere white painting—by Agnes Martin? Kazimir Malevich?—that hangs near a passageway, inviting a step that cannot be taken. McKenzie’s oblique portrayal of this famous Madrid institution at first glance

  • Charles Ross, Star Axis Star Trails, 1971-present. Photo: Charles Ross / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
    slant October 28, 2021

    Cosmic Dancer

    COSMOS IS A WORD UNIVERSAL IN SCOPE, but hidden inside it, like the intimate drawers of a jewelry box, other meanings are kept. Order: of stars, of world, of self. Pattern: macrocosm, microcosm. Form. Ornament. Adornment. The light-year dance of galaxies around one another is cosmic; so is the pearl-drop pendant hanging below the throat. Absolute zero and blood-heat braided together, as is that intimacy between self and universe entire—a fact somehow known before it’s learned, forgotten before it’s ever been grasped—may well be the fundamental discovery needed to put your foot on Star Axis’s

  • Jen Bervin, Close Reading 169 “Grasped by God –”, 2021, cotton batting, muslin, thread, 2 1⁄2 × 9 3⁄4".

    Jen Bervin

    A subtle question asks itself not in words but as a feeling, a disquiet amplified over time, when an artwork takes root in the mind and the imagination grasps a difficult lesson: that an ethics is forming inside an aesthetics. But walking away from Jen Bervin’s exhibition “Doing and Undoing,” I felt such a realization growing in me. Bervin has taken fragments of language that Emily Dickinson originally scrawled on small scraps of paper—sometimes just a single word—magnified them sixfold, then embroidered them with silver thread on fabric grounds made from cotton batting, muslin, and mull.

  • William Kentridge, Nine Trees, 2012, linocut on pages from Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, overall 42 1⁄2 × 33".

    William Kentridge

    “Universal Archive” is a haunted show in which absence makes itself felt as presence. Even the artist is a kind of ghost. William Kentridge, with pitch-black ink, obsessively painted repeated variations of specific objects on pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. He used a “good brush,” whose point held its shape and could create fine detail, as well as a “bad brush” that left behind the calligraphic wisps of a comet’s tail. Yet the images in this exhibition aren’t the originals but are exactingly made linocut prints that unerringly trace the artist’s

  • Charles Ross, Untitled (Beam), 1968, acrylic, oil, adhesive, 48 × 8 × 9". From the series “Prisms,” ca. 1965–68.

    Charles Ross

    With Charles Ross on the cusp of the completion of a nearly five-decade-long project—Star Axis, an observatory or temple to stars and light—in the desert of New Mexico, Rule Gallery presents two early, more modestly scaled sculptures from the artist’s ca. 1965–68 “Prisms” series: Broken Pyramid and Untitled (Beam), both 1968. The pair were conceived three years before his epic Land art construction ever came to mind. And these siblings, in their strange humility, are beautifully prophetic of the large ambition to come.

    Each prism—an exquisitely modeled block of glass displayed on a white-metal