Art in America

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The Lookout: A Weekly Guide to Shows You Won’t Want to Miss

by aia staff 

With an ever-growing number of galleries scattered around New York, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Where to begin? Here at A.i.A., we are always on the hunt for thought-provoking, clever and memorable shows that stand out in a crowded field. Below is a selection of current shows our team of editors can’t stop talking about.

This week we check out Dave Cole’s simultaneously high-tech and low-fi sculptures at Dodge, Tatzu Nishi’s interior decoration (fit for a 15th-century explorer!) in Columbus Circle, and Lebanon-born Etel Adnan’s intimate and boldly colored landscapes at Callicoon Fine Art.

view of O Zhang’s exhibition “I Am Your Mirror”, 2012
Courtesy Vilcek Foundation Gallery

Dave Cole at Dodge, through Oct. 28
It’s tempting to rush through the gallery’s main floor to bask in Music Box, Dave Cole’s full-size vintage steamroller repurposed into a working music box that slowly pings out the Star Spangled Banner, installed on the lower level. But don’t miss his other Americana-inspired sculptures (a Singer sewing machine programmed to search the Internet and print out results in binary code punched into yellow tape, or a flag laboriously hand-sewn from sheets of lead, for example) upstairs.

O Zhang at the Vilcek Foundation Gallery, through Nov. 10
Ever feel that life since the 2008 financial crash is a big nothing? Zhang, who trained in Beijing and London and now lives in New York, recently traveled 10,000 miles throughout the U.S., photographing blank billboards. Her wall-hung and floor-scattered images evoke not just lost commercial vitality but the historical and psychological aspects of America’s wide open spaces.

Tatzu Nishi at Columbus Circle, through Nov. 18
For a Public Art Fund commission, Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi delivered one of this fall’s most exhilarating art experiences. On a platform 70 feet in the air, with incredible views of midtown Manhattan, Nishi constructed an improbable modern living room to surround the landmark marble statue of Christopher Columbus. The figure seems absurdly out of place in its tacky new quarters, complete with reproductions of works by Pollock, de Kooning and Warhol.

Etel Adnan at Callicoon Fine Arts, through Oct. 28
Etel Adnan’s diminutive abstracted landscapes are perfectly suited to Callicoon’s compact and brightly lit space. The oil-on-canvas paintings, all from the last decade or so of the octogenarian artist’s career, are timeless representations of Mount Tamalpais, a Bay Area peak Adnan has been drawn to since moving to the Bay Area in the late 1950s.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at Jack Shainman, through Oct. 13
London-based Lynette Yiadom-Boakye subjects are fictional people, often caught in unexpected moments of action or contemplation. Her portraits-mostly single, some small groups, and all black-are presented in a muted color palette that allows for some exhilarating jolts of color, like in a red, yellow and blue parrot perched on a young man’s finger, or a pink scarf around the neck of woman bent over mid-trip (or, perhaps, dance step).

Kelly Heaton at Ronald Feldman, through Oct. 27
Most electronic art aims to blow you away with some kind of hyper-intense audio-visual experience. By contrast, the analog electronic circuitry in Kelly Heaton’s “The Parallel Series” helps lull viewers into a quiet meditative trance. Many of these softly buzzing and seductively twinkling wall reliefs evoke nature settings in Heaton’s native rural Virginia. 

“The Lookout” is compiled by A.i.A. associate editor Leigh Anne Miller.