New York

Maura Sheehan

Art Galaxy

Dig it: an installation of 30 car windshields, each with a series of Grecian (or are they Etruscan?) urns painted on the reverse. These windshields are “found sculptural objects”; they are also broken. The gallery’s handout says, “Sometimes the cause of breakage can be surmised from the apparent impact of a stone, a gunshot, or a human head” “Surmised” is the key word. One windshield did look as if it might have taken a gunshot, but few of them appeared to bear the imprint of a skull; in fact, most looked as if they had been screwed too tightly into their frames and had simply popped from the pressure. Cleaned and painted, they seemed to make the circumstances of their decommissioning mild and routine—and they made splendid canvases.

The painted urns, all with the repeated figure of an Etruscan (or is she Minoan?) cow-cult pajama dancer acting up a frozen frenzy, are fun. They could be wine or funeral urns, or planters or spittoons, but they are certainly decorative. My guess is that they are multipurpose, vessels for the wine and ashes of DWIs and other unfortunates. Although the urns are all the same—or at least seen-one-you-seen-’em-all—the windshields vary somewhat in size, tint, arc, and lineage. Sheehan has priced all of them the same—from a ’66 Porsche 912 to a ’78 Toyota (which could be the very one I threw away after it was shattered by a beer bottle thrown from a 9th-floor window)

I learned the prices (which I might not have asked) when two deliverymen walked into the gallery, which happens to be located off a loading dock. They asked and were told prices: $1,000 each. The price didn’t seem to surprise them, and it seemed to me that they were trying to pick out the one that they would buy I guessed that some buyers tend to go for the windshields of the higher-priced cars, whereas others might go for those with more gunshot-like damage.

There’s a lot of resonance between the poles of Sheehan’s medium and her message. These are whole vessels painted on broken vessels, opaque glass painted on translucent glass. They are mythic, somewhere between Books of the Dead and parts guides. I guess this is an edition, as they say: a mutable multiple with accidental variations of a spectacular, ghostly nature. It was a gay but grave show.

In a body these urn-shields look great. If I owned one of them I think I’d keep it in a garage; but it would have to be a very nice garage, maybe one with a Coke machine.

Glenn O’Brien