Ingrid Schaffner

  • Marion “Kippy” Stroud at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, c. 1980.
    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