Tag Archives: Sideshow Gallery

Again, with the Rabbits


I’m pleased to announce that a painting of mine has been included in Sideshow Gallery’s annual floor-to-ceiling extravaganza. The exhibition is up until the end of February.

“Thru the Rabbit Hole”

Sideshow Invitation.jpg* * *

It’s that time of year: Sideshow Gallery will be mounting its annual exercise in inclusivity. Can there really be too much art? Apparently not. A recent painting of mine will be included amongst the myriad pieces on display. Hope to see you at the opening–that is, if you can navigate the maddening crowd. There’s also an attendant exhibition at Bushwick’s Life on Mars Gallery, Sideshow’s new partner in artistic abundance.

Circle The Wagons!!!

Sideshow Exhibition

* * *

If there’s any exhibition whose title warrants three exclamation points it’s the annual extravaganza at Brooklyn’s Sideshow Gallery. A recent painting of mine will be included amongst the hundreds of artworks festooning the walls of this venerable Williamsburg institution.  Hope to see you there.

© 2015 Mario Naves


The More The Merrier


The Cultured and Huddled Masses at Sideshow Gallery

* * *

I’m pleased to announce that a painting of mine will be included in Sideshow Nation II; At The Alamo, Rich Timperio’s annual extravaganza at Sideshow Gallery in Williamsburg.

The opening will, if history tells us anything, be swamped with art-lovers of all stripes.

This time around the opening takes place on Saturday, January 4th, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. The exhibition runs until March 3rd. Additional information can be found here.

“Sideshow Nation” at Sideshow Gallery


Artist and impresario Rich Timperio has mounted another of his annual compendiums of, like, a zillion artists at Sideshow Gallery, his haimish venue in not-so-far-flung Williamsburg. This year’s model is dubbed Sideshow Nation and the exhibition promises to leave the casual viewer staggered by its dizzying multiplicity.

Am I wrong in thinking that Timperio’s overviews give a broader and, in many ways, truer overview of the contemporary scene than, say, the Whitney Biennial? Certainly, it’s a more generous endeavor and less prone to theoretical blather.

Would I ponder the question if a work of mine weren’t included? Given some of the artists featured in Sideshow Nation–to name just a few, Ken Butler, Joanne Freeman, Tom EvansTine Lundsfryd, Kim Sloane, Eric Holzman, Lauren Bakoian, Don Voisine, Thornton Willis, Susan Wanklyn, Jeanne Wilkinson and Laura Dodson–I’m inclined to think I would.

© 2012 Mario Naves

Tom Evans at Sideshow Gallery

Installation of Tom Evans’ paintings at Sideshow Gallery; courtesy White Elephant On Wheels

* * *

Maybe it’s the season and the dropping temperatures. Maybe it’s Sideshow Gallery and the haimish atmosphere it cultivates. But mostly it’s the paintings of Tom Evans. How else to explain the wave of heat radiating from far-off Williamsburg?

Far-off? Williamsburg is a quick jaunt on the L train. No, we’re talking aesthetic distance, not mileage. While Evans’ robust brand of gestural abstractions would look fine in this or that Manhattan venue, their plainspoken sincerity stand in stark contrast to the sleek, chilly ambiance of the Chelsea Standard. A longtime inhabitant of the New York scene, Evans is heir to the New York School and an unswerving advocate for the art of painting. The untrendy niche he’s carved for himself can be traced, at least in part, to a perpetual embrace of risk and the vulnerability it signals.

Evans is a romantic who isn’t afraid to fall on his ass. The paintings are muscular conflagrations of brusque brushwork and overripe color. Fields of dotted pigment and unexpected bursts of light move fast and burn slowly. Effulgent blues, acidic purples, operatic reds and shocks of green—Evans hasn’t met a saturated color he doesn’t like. Chromatic indulgence is offset by compositional poise. Each time a painting threatens to disentangle (or explode) into its constituent parts, it’s held in sharp, if sometimes tenuous, check.

The majority of pictures are scaled to the human body—around 6 feet by 5 feet. Their roiling trajectories are determined by the arm’s reach; enlivened by it, too. The few occasions when Evans works on a smaller scale, the results are less allusive, more reigned-in. An artist who thrives on letting it all out should give himself ample space to do just that. When that artist hits the mark—as Evans does in the magisterial St. Adrian’s (2008)—the results generate not only heat and light, but also something distinctly humane. Evans’ paintings are a welcome respite from the professionalism that surrounds us.

© 2011 Mario Naves

Originally published in the December 13, 2011 edition of City Arts.

Dynamic Duo


Pat Lay, SFL4OVO #17 (2010), collaged digital images on Epson archival paper mounted on archival museum board with MDF and wood backing, 85″ x 60″; courtesy Sideshow Gallery

* * *

What is it with Rich Timperio and duos? Timperio–painter, arts impresario and Williamsburg pioneer–has made a specialty of mounting two-person exhibitions at Sideshow, the gallery he opened in 1999.

(In the interest of full disclosure: Timperio has included my work in the last few editions of Sideshow’s winter group exhibitions.)

Sideshow is a good-sized space, though not as encompassing as some of the hangar-like Chelsea spaces we could name, and decidedly hamish in tone: No attitude at the front desk. On a mission to provide “a stage for unseen work”, Timperio dedicates significant exhibition space to mid-career artists who can’t otherwise get a fair shake in a scene that values blue chip merchandise, youngsters fresh out of art school and not much in-between. Why Timperio has made a habit of pairing artists is anyone’s guess. But you know what? He’s got a knack for it.

Take Sideshow’s current exhibition featuring Theresa Ellerbock and Pat Lay. Their work would seem to have little in common. Ellerbock trades in material nuance: paper and fabric are stitched together in geometric arrangements so gently stated–so fragile, really–they barely qualify as geometry at all. Lay’s totem-like sculptures and digital collages don’t abjure tactility, but, instead, coolly yoke it to a post-Dadaist Futurism: imagine Metropolis as funneled through the age of virtual reality. My initial response upon seeing this mismatched pair was:  What the hell is Timperio thinking?

But first glances lead to second glances and second glances to second thoughts, all of which ultimately revealed deep-seated correspondences–between structure and pattern, between piecemeal construction, compositional intricacy, frontal compositions and technology, both confirmed (Ellerbock’s insistence on the textural integrity of materials) and subverted (Lay’s contriving Persian carpets, or something like them anyway, from reproductions of computer motherboards).

In the end, Ellerbock and Lay bounce off the other in ways that are surprising, enlivening and not a little quirky. Give the ladies a hand. But don’t forget Timperio, who divined commonalities that do both artists proud.

© 2011 Mario Naves

James Little & Thornton Willis at Sideshow

Raising the Bar is the title of a show at Sideshow Gallery in Williamsburg, and it’s been irking me to no end. What on earth can it mean? I know it’s a sports analogy–something about setting new standards and posing new challenges. But please explain to me what it has to do with Thornton Willis and James Little, two abstract painters currently sharing exhibition space in Brooklyn.

Does it mean that each man is raising the bar on his own art? If so, the title’s redundant–any artist worth his snuff is already working to build upon past achievements. Does it mean that these two “painter’s painters” have established the, ahem, New Paradigm of Abstraction? Confidence is one thing, self-aggrandizement another.

Maybe Mr. Willis and Mr. Little, veteran painters both, want to “raise the bar” on all those hip young whippersnappers for whom Williamsburg is an artistic Mecca? That’s too easy: The Williamsburg aesthetic doesn’t ask for much. Or can it mean, finally, that Mr. Willis and Mr. Little are engaged in a healthy competition predicated on similar interests and mutual respect?

Now that’s more like it–and, I hope, the case. Certainly Mr. Willis and Mr. Little are of like mind when it comes to the art of painting. Forget, for a moment, the specific pictorial commonalities they share–a fondness for diagonals, say, or an interest in heraldic arrangements of shape. Each man loves the art of painting for the expressive potential inherent in its fundamental characteristics. They’re particular artists–specialists, in fact. The optical heft of a considered surface; the physical presence of uninflected color; the monumental shift of form that can occur from the slightest tweaking of proportion–Mr. Willis and Mr. Little coax a richness of affect from subtleties unique to their craft.

They do so within rather limited frameworks. Mr. Willis paints kaleidoscopic pictures whose basic building block is the triangle. Relishing the unexpected juxtapositions that can occur from improvisation, Mr. Willis doesn’t cover his tracks: The surfaces of his origami-like pictures are various and layered, open-ended and often haphazard. Washy underpainting, frantic clots of texture and errant drips–Mr. Willis’ facture can be showy, a self-conscious patchwork of approaches rather than an organic whole. His debt to the New York School is plainly stated and heartfelt, but misapplied; the pictures are, at times, too rough for their own good. Besides, Mr. Willis isn’t an expressionist. His true calling is structure. Cubism informs the oeuvre as a whole, but powers only the big pictures. Spinner (2004) is rigorous and clunky in the right measures.

As a paint-handler, Mr. Little is more polished and smooth, given to forethought rather than intervention. Favoring sharp lines and silky surfaces, he creates spare and striking pictures out of fields of radiant color and zooming arrays of stripes. Eye-popping contrasts in the tone and temperature of his palette result in remarkably fluid elisions between figure and ground. Quid Pro Quo (2005) is divided in two sections: an expanse of blue interrupted by inverted shards of red and a grouping of no-less-strident bars of yellow, blue and a refreshing, out-of-nowhere green. The overall effect, given the artist’s jolting way with color, is surprisingly serene. Not all of Mr. Little’s canvases are as at odds with each other as Quid Pro Quo, and they’re less complicated (and compelling) because of it.

Would that he took a lesson or two in establishing tensions and harmonies–in other words, composition–from Mr. Willis. Having said that, Mr. Willis should look to Mr. Little for coloristic invention; his reliance on the primaries is unimaginative when it isn’t pedantic. Here’s a suggestion: The two men should spend less time raising the bar and more time going the distance. Mr. Willis or Mr. Little get pretty far as it is, but you do wish they’d stop advertising the fact that they have something to prove.

© 2005 Mario Naves

Originally published in the April 17, 2005 edition of The New York Observer.