Ingrid Schaffner

  • passages December 02, 2015

    Marion “Kippy” Stroud (1939–2015)

    THE FIRST TIME I visited Kamp Kippy—shortly after the Fabric Workshop and Museum hosted an exhibition titled “Secret Victorians” that I had cocurated in 2001—I was immediately whisked into an expedition to Cranberry Island. “We ordered another sandwich. Get in.” The silver Volvo was apparently Kippy’s office—and kennel—on wheels. A spot was cleared for me to sit up front amid papers, faxes, FedEx envelopes, tide charts, timetables, boat and plane schedules, real-estate listings, maps, rolls of blue tape. Forrest Gump, Kippy’s giant pet retriever, sat caged in the back. Abruptly Kippy yanked the

  • Patty Martori

    As Pieter Brueghel had his peasants and old Dutch Proverbs, Patty Martori has her cigarettes and modern-day angst. Both depicted simple characters acting out parables of the complexities—humorous, surreal, or plain psychotic—of life. In Brueghel’s paintings, the exact meaning of putting out the broom (to party) or of a woman tying a pillow to the devil (she must be a shrew) may now be obscure, but a man shitting on a globe is still a good way to represent a misanthrope. Martori’s eight tableaux, though more contemporary in theme, may also be hard to figure at first; the scenarios in which her

  • Mary Carlson

    Startlingly fresh, Mary Carlson’s exhibition was a small miracle of the suspension of disbelief: a garden of memory transplanted into real time and space. Spindly trees and weeds carved of wood sprouted from the cement floor. Concrete deer regarded the viewer with wary alertness. Singing with color, nearly forty porcelain birds perched on a shelf (as on a wire) that ran along the perimeter of one room. These, among other sculptures and one drawing, all work from the past two years, were arranged sparsely, leaving the spacious gallery less than wholly transformed, in a state between waking and

  • “Thread”

    Group shows that bring together artists working with the same materials are prone to homogenize their contents: in a room full of works made out of lead, everything, including the ideas that gave rise to the art, appears leaden. But “Thread,” aerated by Tom Moody and the gallery’s proprietor, Mariacristina Parravacini, manages to avoid this pitfall, in part by presenting the material in such a diversity of forms, and with an intellectual premise that makes the selection of works more than a self—evident process of finding fiber in art.

    In Brigitte Nahon’s installation, Icholi Hauperyre L (

  • Joanne Greenbaum

    With her debut solo exhibition, Joanne Greenbaum bolsters drawing’s claim as a privileged field of operations for contemporary artists. Not that her works don’t cut it as paintings: the salon scale, brilliant use of color, and commanding compositions of these seven abstractions (all works 1996), all untitled oils on canvas, not only speak to the artist’s accomplishments as a painter, but, in their lack of addenda (sculptural, photographic, textual, or otherwise) evince a decided dedication to the medium. Yet the innovative quality of Greenbaum’s work has everything to do with drawing and its

  • Mimi Smith

    Cross Meret Oppenheim with Barbara Kruger and you come real close to the acute feminism of Mimi Smith’s art of apparel. A welcome reprise of the excellent survey curated three years ago by Judith Tannenbaum at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art, this recent exhibition of Smith’s sculpture and painting from the ’60s to the present began with her “teacups,” early sculptures that have so often served as textbook examples of “feminist art,” and that were to overshadow the next thirty years of her career. (Oppenheim suffered a similar fate—until the Guggenheim’s recent survey proved how

  • “Color Detour”

    In critic Faye Hirsch’s curatorial debut “Color Detour”—a group exhibition of paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and sculpture—color is conspicuous by its absence. What remains are its signs, from the literal to the metaphorical. One reads a deep blush into Janice Krasnow’s white canvas, on which is printed in bold letters: “plump and fleshy/roots with pink/streaked buds.” Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s photograph of compatriot Frida Kahlo, famous for appearing in traditional Mexican dress, screams folkloric color even in vintage black and white.

    The show is informed by another absence, the work

  • Matthew Ritchie

    With protagonists named Azazel, Penemue, and Mulciber locked in explosive battles against unseen forces and assuming, after death, other forms in new places, Matthew Ritchie’s paintings and drawings combine the visionary violence of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience with the high-action antics of a Power Rangers video. Entitled “The Hard Way,” this exhibition of seven paintings also included glossaries, character outlines, and a chart. How else to remember the names of the seven characters that Ritchie calls “watchers” and seven planets that the British-born, New York–based artist

  • Alix Pearlstein

    In her recent solo show, Alix Pearlstein subjected the old white cube to some serious interior decorating. A black video monitor and white chair resting on a square of white carpet occupied the center of the gallery; uniformly framed collages hung on the walls. The pictures all showed the same room plan, but in each a different decorating scheme reigned—a unique artwork with matching carpet, furniture, and figure. From contempo to natural, the “look” of these plans was very ’70s. In representing the bourgeois tastes of the period, Pearlstein also invokes a particular art historical moment. With

  • Amy Adler

    One might answer the title of Amy Adler’s recent exhibition “What Happened to Amy?” with another question, “How did Amy manage to look so pretty during her awkward teenage years in the unfashionable ’70s?” Such concerns may seem trite, but to anyone who struggled with puberty, long hair, and peasant smocks, the breezy composure of the barefoot girl in these self-portraits is remarkable. This unflappable self-confidence is only the most obvious of the myriad ways in which the five pictures that constituted this exhibition seemed to present a false picture. The more complicated deceptions arose

  • Robin Tewes

    Depicting suburban interiors that could easily have come straight out of the pages of 1950s McCalls or Good Housekeeping, but didn’t, Robin Tewes’ paintings evoke the oppressive chambers of childhood. In the works for this, her second solo show, she faithfully reproduces the accoutrements and palette of high suburbia: turquoise sofas, salmon-pink blankets, manila bedrooms with twin beds, olive-green playrooms. Certainly the artist’s style epitomizes the sense of order once demanded of the ’50s housewife—her surfaces are flat and impersonal, with all signs of brushwork suppressed. Indeed, Tewes’

  • Megan Williams

    With her two previous shows devoted to drawing, this exhibition of paintings represents both a departure and a challenge for Los Angeles artist Megan Williams. In making the transition to painting, she joins Sue Williams and Kim Dingle, among other satirically engaged artists, in stepping up from the ostensibly small-time school of drawing, where women have traditionally been welcome to amuse themselves, and entering the ring with the brush-wielding fraternity of figurative painters.

    The biggest departure in these works of the past two years is one of scale. Williams’ paintings look like large

  • Robin Kahn

    Robin Kahn’s work as an editor and an artist has entailed a close monitoring of the legacy of creative endeavors undertaken by women; at the same time she has continued to develop her own host of political themes. In Time Capsule: A Concise Encyclopedia by Women Artists, a hefty anthology she conceived and edited in 1995, writings and drawings submitted by women from around the world were arranged according to a charged lexicon, from “abstract porno” to “veils.” In this show of six paintings and a sculpture addressing female stereotypes in realms of fashion, the body, and labor, Kahn carried

  • Tanya Marcuse

    Tanya Marcuse’s second solo show consisted of surreal, uniformly sized platinum/palladium prints drawn from two different bodies of work. One of these, the picture cycle “Bridal Suite” (all works 1995), commemorated her wedding day: everything from the bridal gown to the bride’s intimate apparel to a concluding peek at distinctly private acts. Formally and in its preoccupation with representations of the body, this series echoed Marcuse’s first solo show for which the artist photographed fragments of classical Greek sculpture—bits of male and female bodies posed in galleries or sequestered away

  • Elliott Puckette

    Wood panels covered in a sparse tracery of calligraphic lines, Elliott Puckette’s works are ethereal. Her latest efforts are named for great winds, Sirocco, 1995, and Harmattan, 1995, while in another work, Hala, 1994, the thin white lines that cling to empty space echo the surface roots of the eponymous Hawaiian tree. Throughout these paintings, darkened grounds appear to have been scrubbed over gesso with a soft cloth or brush. Light soaks back through translucent veils of ink, creating an effect similar to the glint of pale stones from the bottom of a pool at night. This serenity, which can

  • Claude Simard

    Dominating Claude Simard’s installation, a string of letters cascaded down one wall of the exhibition space. Cut from cotton, stuffed, stitched, and strung like fish on a line, they were hung in so many layers that it was difficult to decipher the individual names they spelled. This overwhelming cacophony was meant to evoke a particular place—a small French Canadian village called Larouche, from which this New York–based artist hails—through the names of its denizens. Simard also portrayed his hometown in photographs of its inhabitants in moments of leisure and of local landmarks, such as the

  • Dorothy Cross

    With slight but unnerving displacements, Dorothy Cross transforms the pristine space of the gallery into sometimes erotic, sometimes terrifying environments. Her most recent installation, Inheritance, 1995, began with an isolated X ray of a skull. Nestled in the brainpan, as if in a womb, was an unborn child. This image could be read in two ways: either as a metaphor for the coming generation, whose traits are bound to be as much an imprint of psychological as of physical union; or, on a more macabre note, as signs of new life encased in a symbol of death. This ambiguity set the tone of the

  • Andrei Roiter

    A Russian artist who divides his time between Amsterdam and New York, Andrei Roiter seems to have cultivated a talent for making himself at home. In his recent show, he inhabited the institutional architecture of the Zilkha Gallery with the resourcefulness of a castaway on a desert island, transforming the inhospitable concrete and carpeted spaces into an art-friendly environment. The installation, Potato Head, 1995, consisted of a series of drawings and photographs encircling the main gallery, and a selection of paintings and sculpture hung in the smaller, chapellike rotunda. A number of works

  • Polly Apfelbaum

    Polly Apfelbaum combines a Depression-era resourcefulness with an almost compulsive need to acquire material goods. Her witty, neo-Minimalist works are comprised of sera ps of crushed velvet, snapshots, pieces of felt, and bedsheets worn soft and thin that are dyed, chopped up, and reassembled into quilts or laid out in methodical rows, Victory Garden style. Apfelbaum’s most recent exhibition featured four series of works on paper and three stained-fabric constructions that sit somewhere between painting and sculpture, such as Ashes III, 1993–95, in which petals of velvet, sooty with ink, accrue

  • Robin Hill

    For this exhibition of new sculptures and drawings, Robin Hill made four thousand casts of paper cups and dyed them ballpoint-pen blue. Unlike Bruce Nauman’s cast of the underside of a chair, Hill’s casts make no attempt to evoke the thing itself through its negative; rather, they chart an open territory. Lined up to create patterns that wheel and spin across the floor, Hill’s uniform units suggest a gargantuan spirograph. There were three sculptures formed from lots of casts, all untitled, taking over most of the floor space. These sculptures were all quite gracious—lots of floor shone through—and