Nicole Kaack

  • View of “Jacob Jackmauh and Lina McGinn: (At) the end (of a Rainbow),” 2021–22.
    picks October 29, 2021

    Jacob Jackmauh and Lina McGinn

    Nestled in gravel amid scattered weeds and creepers, Lina McGinn’s enormous foam sculptures of Lucky Charms Just Magical Marshmallows merrily radiate synthetic color. Among them are a coterie of mixed-media works by Jacob Jackmauh that echo the menagerie one might find at a playground or a theme park, including an owl with opaque binocular eyes, and a snail shell with a coin slot.

    McGinn and Jackmauh’s outdoor exhibition takes its title from singer Earl Grant’s 1958 ballad “(At) the end (of a Rainbow),” in which the crooner silkily intones phrases that turn precipitously from auspicious to

  • Abbey Williams, Reply, 2017, video, color, sound, 8 minutes 1 second.
    picks April 13, 2018

    “Several Years Have Passed”

    This exhibition gathers five women who have taken time away from their artistic careers, be it to raise children or care for the “sick and dying,” as the show’s press release states. The word practice suggests a commitment to and constancy in an endeavor that disregards other responsibilities. However, the demands of life can eclipse those of the studio. Curator Jenny Nichols proposes that living fully—through happiness, tragedy, or daily drudgery—is just as essential to art as its actual making.

    In Annette Wehrhahn’s painting The Missing, 2018, scattered strokes of boldly applied finger painting

  • Deana Lawson, Barbara and Mother, 2017, pigment print, 69 x 55".
    picks March 16, 2018

    Deana Lawson

    Across ten majestic photographs, Deana Lawson pursues a mood of staged portraiture that pushes into the candid elegance of the everyday. In the spirit of collaboration, these works are caught somewhere between the direction of the artist and the resolve of her subjects, playing on modes of fiction that merge with authenticity. For this show, Lawson extends her practice of photographing existing domestic environments by exhibiting appropriated images—scanned, printed, and scaled up—alongside her own work. In the found picture Kings, 2016, nine young black men are posed against the gridded lights

  • Sable Elyse Smith, How We Tell Stories to Children, 2015, video, color, silent, 45 seconds.
    picks July 21, 2017

    Sable Elyse Smith

    A camera scans a dim, panoramic street scene, dogging but never catching the slight figure beyond the screen’s edge. An oscillating, angular elbow marks slowed time, leading us through an obscure landscape in the video How We Tell Stories to Children, 2015—a looping, exaggerated excerpt of a longer piece of a chase that appears to be a game of tag but could be something far more sinister. In poetry filtered through works executed in glaring light boards and neon, Sable Elyse Smith proposes parallels between this playground activity and another kind of hunt with much higher stakes.

    A paragraph

  • Ellen Berkenblit, Witching Hour, 2017, oil and paint stick on linen, 63 1/2 x 77".
    picks June 16, 2017

    Ellen Berkenblit

    Animated by frenzied bursts of vibrant color, splashing patterns, and succulent forms, Ellen Berkenblit’s recent paintings capture moments of stillness in broad, energetic strokes. Through her sumptuous canvases, caked with creamy paint stick and occasionally bedecked with quilted calico fragments, we follow a scattered sequence of minutely shifting portraits: a beribboned bay pony moving restlessly between Untitled and Lilac (both 2016); a massive outstretched hand with Kool Aid–hued nails trying to pinch a tulip-like flower (Alef Bet, 2016, and Witching Hour, 2017); and a woman with an almost

  • Maren Karlson, No Longer a Friend, Master, Slave, 2017, colored pencil on paper, 16 1/2 x 12".
    picks June 02, 2017

    Maren Karlson

    Slitted eyes and jagged flames gleam in lurid magentas and chilly violets, lighting a path both sensual and sinister in Maren Karlson’s crepuscular compositions. Mixing exacting geometries with cartoonish illustration, these drawings, paintings, and ceramic works often follow a bald figure draped in silken robes through swoony, dreamlike landscapes. Charmed with the mysticism of an invented iconography, Karlson’s images suggest occult ritual. In No Longer a Friend, Master, Slave (all works cited, 2017), the central character reenacts what seem to be ancient origin stories—she makes herself over

  • A. K. Burns, She Was Warned, 2017, cement hydrocal mix, concrete, rebar, steel wire, steel concrete reinforcement, plastic, pigmented resin, 73 x 25 x 12".
    picks March 10, 2017

    A. K. Burns

    Outsiders are not welcome: A forbidding fence obscures the view through the front window of the gallery. Two more like it appear throughout the space, each patterned with barely legible phrases à la Donald Rumsfeld: Known known, known unknown, and unknown unknown. In the exhibition “Fault Lines,” A. K. Burns reflects on the power of language to colonize our physical realities with political polarities. A picture of the Dakota Access Pipeline crawls like a blind, wormy beast through the sunshine landscapes of the show’s press release, while Better Off Without You (all works cited, 2017) is a

  • Steve Wolfe, Untitled (Anna Karenina), 1985–87, oil, enamel, ink transfer, modeling paste, canvas, wood, 7 1/2 x 5 x 2".
    picks February 24, 2017

    Steve Wolfe

    Love is rarely tender, especially with cherished objects. Sometimes they become so much a part of who we are that they, too, accumulate the scars, scrapes, and burns of affection. Steve Wolfe’s current posthumous exhibition offers up impeccable re-creations of books, book covers, and records from the artist’s personal library, made to look as worn by time and use as the originals. Every tear and scuff is fabricated through oil paint, ink, and graphite; every misaligned spine, intentional.

    Wolfe’s remaking of Voltaire’s satire, in softcover, Untitled (Candide), 1988–89, surprises by its vibrancy.

  • Phoenix Lindsey-Hall, Never Stop Dancing, 2017, slip-cast porcelain, fishing wire, dimensions variable.
    picks January 23, 2017

    Phoenix Lindsey-Hall

    The gallery feels still. Hanging from the ceiling are forty-nine globes, radiant with gently diffused light. Arranged in impossible orbits and strung with fishing wire, the installation is akin to a science-class diorama of an unknown solar system, illuminated by the glare of unknown suns. Little porcelain squares, unglazed and matte white, envelop the surfaces of these imperfect orbs. They are like the mirrored fragments of disco balls but utterly drained of glimmer and sparkle—eyes that once flickered and flashed now overcast, blind.

    In Never Stop Dancing, 2017, artist and activist Phoenix

  • View of “Cathouse FUNeral Harvested,” 2016–17.
    picks January 06, 2017

    “Cathouse FUNeral Harvested”

    On November 20 of last year, the original site of this Brooklyn exhibition space in East Williamsburg, located in a former funeral home, closed its doors for the last time. The artist-run venue had an unquiet rest, however—another version of it currently exists as a projects space in Carroll Gardens, while its first body has been exhumed for a second life in Chelsea. “Cathouse FUNeral Harvested” (an extension of which will open on the Lower East Side on January 8) collects residue from twenty shows of murals and installations via fragments of sheetrock and other architectural excerpts, presented

  • David Kramer, Hooking up with Dave (detail), 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks November 11, 2016

    David Kramer

    Dave swims in and out of view over a rocking sea of yarn-festooned burlap. Dancing in the double vision of overlaid video, Dave’s face becomes the center of an increasingly tight frame, zooming in on eyes that gaze bleakly below a sweaty forehead. It’s time for Hooking up with Dave, 2016, artist David Kramer’s attic installation.

    On the gallery’s rickety third floor, Kramer’s tableau feels like a crawlspace/derelict boys’ club, complete with a Mad Men–style liquor selection, sans the 1960s ritz. Hanging across from a miniature pool table, a hook-rug tiger skin glows in neon green. And laid directly

  • Richard Misrach, Diving Board, Salto, 1943, C-print, 18 x 23".
    picks September 22, 2016

    “California: The Art of Water”

    As true today as when it was published in 1977, Joan Didion’s essay “Holy Water” speaks to the Californian’s obsession with water, a fanatic preoccupation sparked by wildfires on the Big Sur coast and years of drought that have compelled the rising of the land itself. The exhibition “California: The Art of Water” traces a centuries-long struggle––a history of mercurial oppositions––over resources bestowed only grudgingly or in excess. The cerulean volume of David Hockney’s Sprungbrett mit Schatten (Paper Pool #14), 1978, acts as mocking foil to the thirsty void that opens beneath Diving Board,