Lauren O’Neill-Butler

  • Laura Aguilar, Grounded #111, 2006, ink-jet print, 14 1⁄2 × 15". From the series “Grounded,” 2006.

    Laura Aguilar

    I’d been anticipating Laura Aguilar’s traveling retrospective, “Show and Tell,” over the past four drawn-out years, after it first opened in 2017 at the Vincent Price Art Museum in Los Angeles. When the exhibition landed at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, its final stop, her take on resiliency and repair offered many instructive life lessons, as its title quietly suggested. The survey spans three decades of the artist’s oeuvre and emphasizes her activism, which was cut short by her death from diabetes in 2018 at the age of fifty-eight, roughly seven months after the show’s tour began. Signs of

  • Bruce Burris, Totalitarian Tiptoe, 2020, acrylic, tempera, watercolor, marker, graphite, and spray paint on paper, 22 × 15".

    Bruce Burris

    Bruce Burris’s trippy, caustic, and unruly exhibition of drawings—organized by the curatorial platform March and presented at Summertime, a nonprofit art studio and gallery in Brooklyn—felt timely in its caricaturing of the deeply divided United States. The show opened one day before President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office at the Capitol on January 20, 2021, while the nation was still reeling from an unthinkable attack by a violent mob there earlier in the month. The fourteen works on view, all made in 2020, were essentially heralds, announcing that our lives

  • Tourmaline, Salacia, 2019, 16 mm, sound, color, 6 minutes 4 seconds.


    A debut solo show is typically a watershed moment for an artist. But for Tourmaline, it was more of an object lesson in self-understanding, underscored by a sensitivity and maturity you don’t see often enough. Take the considered selection of her exhibition site: As Chapter NY’s location on East Houston Street in Manhattan is inaccessible to disabled people, the polymath—who is well known for her filmic portraits of Black trans activists and icons, and for her own activism—staged her presentation in an accessible pop-up space so that everyone could see it. This was not a small detail, but rather

  • Jo Baer, Snow-Laden Primeval (Meditations, on Log Phase and Decline Rampant with Flatulent Cows and Carbon Cars), 2020, oil on canvas, 67 5/8 × 60 1/4".

    Jo Baer

    Jo Baer can be provocative, but the effect is never for the sake of mere provocation—without fear or apology, the artist says what she thinks. For example, in a 1967 letter to the editor of this magazine, she faults Donald Judd and Robert Morris for their high-stakes rejection of her preferred medium—painting—which the duo called “antique” for its implicit illusionism. In the final line of her communiqué, she writes, “An ‘inescapable’ delusion moves the above critics. It is objectionable,” her last word a cutting pun on Judd’s 1965 essay “Specific Objects.” Baer’s 2010 book, Broadsides & Belles

  • Leilah Babirye, Nantege O’we Ngabi from the Kuchu Civet Cat Clan, 2020, wood, wax, aluminum, nails, found objects, 51 × 15 × 3".

    Leilah Babirye

    Ebika Bya ba Kuchu mu Buganda” (Kuchu Clans of Buganda), Leilah Babirye’s muscular second solo outing at Gordon Robichaux, exemplified her fiercely intelligent approach to materials through a body of work that radiates dignity, spirituality, and prudence. The quickly growing oeuvre of the Brooklyn-based artist not only looks back to the disastrous legacies of British colonialism in Uganda and to twentieth-century European cultural appropriations (Picasso’s Les demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, for example), but also encompasses progressive ideas regarding alternative forms of kinship, community

  • Lauretta Vinciarelli, Orange Silence, 2000, three watercolor-on-paper works, each 22 × 15".

    Lauretta Vinciarelli

    Solace. That’s the word that kept coming to mind as I looked at Lauretta Vinciarelli’s exacting watercolor-and-ink studies of light, space, and reflection, after not having seen art in person for six months due to the Covid-19 closures. This exquisite exhibition focused on the artist and architect’s mature production between 1984 and 2002, before her untimely death in 2011 at age sixty-eight. It seemed to pick up right where the last Vinciarelli show—at New York’s Judd Foundation in 2019—left off. That presentation surveyed her output from the years 1976 to 1986, when she was romantically involved

  • Marwa Arsanios, Have you ever killed a bear? or Becoming Jamila, 2013–14, HD video, color, sound, 25 minutes. From “Nine Lives,” 2020, Renaissance Society, Chicago.


    THEY SAY WE’RE STRONGER TOGETHER. That we’re the most important political force in the nation. That feminism is the future. What would it take to make these platitudes—touchstones from August’s Democratic National Convention—meaningful during a complete economic and social catastrophe and under a pandemic that has all but extinguished any faith left in already attenuated notions of universality and progress?

    Conceived in the wake of the 2017 Women’s March, the Feminist Art Coalition is a call to action that encompasses climate change, decolonization, racial justice, Indigenous struggles, diasporic

  • Sue Coe, Stamped Out, 2020, linocut with hand-coloring on paper, 10 3/8 × 8 1/2".


    “THIS IS THE BELLY OF THE PROVERBIAL BEAST,  and apologies to all beasts: a culture tearing at its economic seams.” That was Sue Coe in 2018, during a video interview for I had asked her about current conditions in the United States—and about this feeling I had of the ground falling away beneath me. Two years later, those seams have ripped wide open, and Coe has responded with characteristic intensity. For more than four decades, her art has raged for animal rights and social justice—for the “people on the front lines,” as she put it to me. Her signature high-contrast output has

  • Screenshot of American Artist’s Looted, 2020–. Online project.

    American Artist

    “Should the theft of sneakers and computers, or shattered windows, graffiti, or broken locks become our obsession when black people are being killed before our eyes, when the police are bashing the heads of protesters and tear-gassing people during a viral pandemic that can cause respiratory illness?” This question, posed by historian Robin D. G. Kelley in a June 2020 op-ed for the New York Times, cut straight to the meaning of the word loot. The title of the essay was written as a question: “What Kind of Society Values Property over Black Lives?” The answer: American. Yet we might have (finally)

  • Robert Gober, Hanging Man/Sleeping Man, 1989, silk screen on paper, 85 1⁄2 × 29 1⁄2".

    Robert Gober

    It took a pandemic for dreaming to become a common concern again. But Robert Gober never lost interest. For nearly four decades, his art has mined the movement from consciousness to the unconscious and back again, giving us a novel thought landscape: wax objects sprouting a fine layer of human hair, sinks sans faucets, and uncannily detailed sculptures of domestic items. Examples of each were included in this online survey of twenty works, made between 1976 and 2019, alongside related content. At the top of the site was the chimeric Death Mask, 2008, a ten-inch-high plaster amalgamation of the

  • Hudson Marquez and Chip Lord pose in front of the TVTV Media Van.
    film August 24, 2020

    Air America

    THE SAN FRANCISCO–BASED media collective Top Value Television (TVTV) was a bunch of “braless, blue-jeaned video freaks,” per Newsweek, who did what other news outlets didn’t. By producing several iconoclastic documentaries on politics and culture in the 1970s, they spearheaded a global movement of independent video, broadcasting the first tapes of this kind across US networks. They belonged to a critical group of video guerrillas, championing citizen journalism through cutting-edge consumer tech: the Sony Portapak, which was groundbreaking in those years for its “lightweight” twenty-five-pound

  • Paulina Peavy and Lacamo, Untitled, ca. 1945–ca. 1980, oil on board, 72 × 48".

    Paulina Peavy and Lacamo

    Paulina Peavy (1901–1999), an artist who witnessed nearly a century of culture flash before her eyes, was hardly recognized in her lifetime for her abstractions. Perhaps that’s because she never conformed to reigning styles and instead remained devoted to her own inner voice—or, rather, a voice from a higher dimension. Nearly all of Peavy’s works were made in collaboration with a nonhuman entity named Lacamo. She often channeled this “ghost spirit” while wearing magnificently jeweled masks that she designed, several of which held court in the back room of the Andrew Edlin Gallery this fall. The