Deborah Perlberg

  • Theodora Skipitares

    When Theodora Skipitares took The Mother and the Maid and The Venus Cafe to Amsterdam earlier this month, the audience loved Mother and hated The Venus Cafe. “I’m not sure why,” said Skipitares later, “but I think they expected more acting.” The audience mainly had theatre backgrounds, and seemed to accept certain conventions of the performance easily: the acid green wall of Venus, the props acting both as sets and costumes. Ingredients that an art crowd savor were taken for granted by an acting crowd. She thought perhaps that Mother was less autobiographical and that had something to do with

  • “Dance”: Lucinda Childs, Philip Glass and Sol LeWitt

    NO MATTER HOW THEY SUCCEED or fail in the particulars of their collaborative effort, Lucinda Childs, Philip Glass and Sol LeWitt have created an emotionally eloquent event in Dance, performed in December at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, combining at a few moments in rare peaks of pure physical joy. That the dance goes with the music which goes with LeWitt’s film is arguable. You’d have to survey those who left throughout the performance for violent negative reactions. Those who stayed to give standing ovations would be harder pressed to denigrate the collaboration. Beyond choreography or scoring,

  • Neil Welliver

    Since Neil Welliver holds a rather prominent position among landscape or realist painters today, it seems justified to point out a few reasons why someone may not like his work. Aside from the fact that it’s always pleasant to have a well-executed landscape around the house, what is it that attracts so many to his canvases?

    Perhaps it’s the very things that I find disturbing in his imagery, his application and presentation. Basically the dislike comes down to an impatience with the paint-by-number approach of putting together an image from blobs of paint. Recognizing the historical precedents

  • Mel Kendrick

    Seemingly uncomplicated, Mel Kendrick’s wire mesh and wood constructions are relatively uncluttered geometrical shapes. Each wall-mounted sculpture has a clear outline. The interest comes in when Kendrick folds the single piece of wire mesh, so that shadows and lines form on the wall behind the piece. With the addition of several wood or metal bars behind the mesh, space becomes three-dimensional. The added parts cause highlights and shadows that become more and more complex as you begin to distinguish ever subtler shapes of light and dark within each piece. Painted a bright blue overall, each

  • Cynthia Carlson

    When paint gets so thick it becomes almost an object in itself the next logical step is to remove it from the confines of painting and let it become three-dimensional. Self-sustaining forms carefully scattered along painted walls comprise Cynthia Carlson’s latest show, a result of just such thinking. The squiggles and crosses and dots of paint that built up on her previous canvases have become detached, self-standing objects. They line up across the bottom of a wall in Willie’s Weep, pattern across an expanse of wall space in Ceremony, or cluster together in random arrangements.

    The configurations

  • Donald Lipski

    “Gathering Dust” consists of 2,000 small pieces of nervous energy, pinned to the wall and brightly lit. The nervous energy is contained in various common objects distorted and reworked by the hands of the artist in fits of ordinary nervous tension. At least that’s how Donald Lipski explains the origins of these items. For years, says Lipski, he’s been collecting these remnants of unconscious modeling and storing them in shoe boxes, keeping a record of what ordinarily would be thrown out with the trash. Almost everyone makes objects like these, in the same category as random doodles and scribbles

  • Meredith Monk

    This performance revives a 1973 piece by Meredith Monk; little has been done to enhance the work since its initial conception. Given the amount of pioneering work that Monk has done since then the results were necessarily disappointing, for the richness of Quarry (her last performance at the B.A.M.) is sadly lacking in this piece. Education of the Girlchild focuses, as does Quarry, on events in the life of a single female child and her decisions and involvement in life-shattering events. The rich and cataclysmic occurrences in Quarry are presented on much simpler terms here, but the same vague

  • Suzan Pitt

    “I want the audience to always know the illusions are being made by successive drawings through time—that I’m not trying to make an illusion they can ‘believe’ in,” says Suzan Pitt on the making of Asparagus. Animated film is not often reviewed in an art context, which is a shame; animation at its best is a highly personal and classical art encompassing all the elements of formal painting and sculpture with the extra added attraction of time thrown in. Pitt’s statement captures the essence of the art itself, its play with illusion and magic, creating things in the reality of real time, composed

  • Robert Mangold

    In his new paintings Robert Mangold has altered the outside shape of the canvas as a whole, destroying the perfect rectangle in favor of a distorted perimeter. Each painting is composed of two canvases side by side, the line between them functioning as a formal drawn line. An “X” is penciled in from upper to lower boundaries, carefully off-center, just missing the central line at the crossing. These two ideas at once displace the recognizable shape of the canvases—Mangold plays with the ambiguity of his defined forms, purposely avoiding the expected division or shape. So far these are familiar

  • Frank Stella

    Surprisingly or not, Frank Stella provided the most direct contrast to Minimal leanings. His new works are an overwhelming circus of materials. Never mind the meaning of his bizarre new direction, or the impulse behind the radical profusion of elements—Stella has left refinement so far behind as to render it forever dead. The new works cross almost every line there is, between painting and sculpture, assemblage and montage, hard-edge, color field and punk. Perhaps he just enjoys wreaking havoc with critical definitions.

    Hints of his intentions have surfaced before. Works from 1976, featuring

  • Nam June Paik

    Nam June Paik’s newest videotape offers the possibility of a completely new trend in entertainment. Shown to a capacity crowd, the audience of devoted fans must have been prepared for anything the master had to offer, from the most outlandishly abstract patternings to full-blown conceptualizing. What they got was an amazingly enjoyable piece of work. Despite all its radical cutting and split-screen effects, They Can’t Lick Stamps in China was funny, enticing and provocative.

    Paik used several theatrical premises to introduce themes and gimmicks. His collaborator (and art writer) Gregory Battcock

  • R.M. Fischer

    There may be a reason why rational men parade around at parties with lampshades on their heads. If there is, R.M. Fischer is the one who knows the meaning behind this seemingly meaningless act. Fischer’s lamp objects have an eerie feeling of the same transformation reversed—lamps parading as people. Each one in his installation has a personality all its own; the pseudo-fantasy of L.A. Lamp, the demure prettiness of Dinner Lamp, the furtive hunch of Street Lamp.

    But personality is only part of the problem Fischer confronts with his humanoid beacons. Served Up takes its title from a four-part

  • Another Look at Edvard Munch

    VEERING WILDLY, AS IT DOES, between radical new styles of painting and an imagery exaggerated by his own mental illness, Edvard Munch’s accomplishment has been hard to categorize; as a result, it has been underestimated. His vast oeuvre has been reduced to a few anthology stand-bys. Part of the overwhelming impact of the National Gallery exhibition comes from one’s sheer surprise at the extent of his competence and obvious art historical significance in a time of dizzying, heretical change in painting itself; the personal drama of his blatantly obsessive emotional life accounts for the rest.

  • “Portraits by Artists”

    The Virginia Commonwealth University has long had a solid facility for the studio arts, with an exceptionally low student-teacher ratio. It also operates the Anderson Gallery, which, though little-known outside of Richmond, offers diverse and energetic shows of contemporary art that include both local artists and those familiar to national audiences.

    “Portraits by Artists” represents a particular attitude of one group of artists. Related to the underground influences of California funk, the irreverence of punk art and the irascibility of comic book art, the show has a brash liveliness at once

  • “Small Works”

    Downtown in Richmond the 1708 East Main gallery, a cooperative effort organized by 21 artists, is an outpost of innovative exhibitions, performance, dance and video. Serving as a multimedia center, it includes archives, a slide registry, and library of art periodicals. “Small Works” represents the work of gallery artists and chosen guests. Again, a toughness prevails in work that is skillfully executed. Almost without exception the pieces here are representational, based on degrees of realism and combined with other forms or structures for personal definition.

    A good example is Backdrop by Frank

  • Bill Lundberg

    On entering the gallery to see Bill Lundberg’s latest show, eight disembodied figures begin gabbling at you from the floor. Stuck in the boards, visible from shoulder up only, three garrulous strangers come as a shock. In living color (and in living motion), they speak in simultaneous layers of normal conversational tones. The disorientation of their condition is Lundberg’s tour de force; all 5 works in the show deal with a similar shock of the familiar set unexpectedly aside for the viewer’s examination.

    Lundberg’s medium is film—and plastic and tables and chairs and projectors and mirrors—but

  • Edward Mayer

    With unfinished strips of wood lath as his only construction material, Edward Myer weaves large towers and huts that combine a blunt, overall sense of solidity with visible internal structure. While countless comparisons with other artists come to mind at first glance—early Aycock, Stackhouse, self-contained Winsors and modular Ferarras—somehow Mayer’s pieces are strong enough to emerge as the work of a thorough, knowledgeable individual worth watching.

    Unexpected details save the pieces from a too-simple overall profile. Basically, each sculpture has a fairly simple shape so this

  • Claire Moore

    With a hand reminiscent of old Dutch masters, Claire Moore sketches visual diaries of places she has been, and records multitudes of facts about each place. The results are an intimate diary, a journal compounded of fact and impression. With changes in mood reflected in the energy of each line, her narrative drawings contain an essence of personality that is particular, specific, and simultaneously ageless and archetypal. A product of 22 years of drawing and labeling, these “Interiors, Exteriors” have the freshness of newer works by younger artists who have just discovered the fascination of

  • Don Dudley

    Working with modular 2-by-8-inch forms of homosote blocks, Don Dudley performs variations on simple, sparse configurations. Nailing the blocks to the gallery wall, he carefully orders their arrangement in several kinds of patterns. Arranged lengthwise, the blocks line up in long panels; in two instances, they are arranged symmetrically in pyramidal formations, narrowing from top to bottom, Color is monochrome, in variations of gray tones brushed lightly onto the surface, or in pale silvery greens and plum. Perfect order combined with understated color reinforces the total lack of movement or

  • Owen Morrel

    Perched on top of the American Thread Building in the heart of Tribeca is a 35-foot-tall structure of steel ladders, bars and industrial piping. It looks the same as other rooftop structures on neighboring buildings, but Owen Morrel’s Asylum is actually a questionable refuge from the din below. I say questionable because it is actually a rather threatening, slightly intimidating cage. Open prison-bar walls on three sides offer an exhilarating/terrifying lookout over the roofs of Tribeca and Soho; the floor tilts crazily, right angles are ignored, and notions of solidity are banished. The fourth