TimeOut New York

Art Reviews / Issue No. 154
September 3rd, 1998

By Sarah Schmerler

“Wishful Thinking”, James Graham & Sons, through Sept 11 (see Uptown).

Interesting group shows that mix rel­atively well-known and emerging artists have become something of a summer tradition at James Graham & Sons. This year’s offering would seem, judging by its title, to be an exploration of hoping for the best, but it’s a grim sort of optimism.

The show’s centerpiece, Frank Moore’s Angel (1996), features a glistening snow- scape littered with picked-clean femur bones; there’s also a spinal column and a human brain swathed in a bloody red haze. Footprints in the snow trail off to­ward a luminous horizon, while anoth­er set of tracklike forms approaches from the sky. It’s an eloquent medita­tion on mortality.

Flanking Moore’s piece are a couple of small, obsessively rendered drawings by Russell Crotty of what appear to be constellations. Both are presented as if viewed through a telescope or, consider­ing their globular and almost organic grouping of dots, perhaps a microscope. They play nicely off Moores preoccupations with biology and the beyond.

The surprises of the show are Larry Mullins and Raven Schlossberg. The for­mer’s painting has an expertly crafted surface, built up of layers of vaguely kitschy patterns and text. Schlossberg also makes optically dense work, though with a cooler hand; she snips color im­ages out of newspapers and collages them in overlapping sections. Her piece features perfect blond children sur­rounded by row after row of abstract, freeze-frame faces. The effect is both saccharine and ominous—as if a Disney movie had gotten digitally shredded in a video-disc player.

The artist who makes the most sense here, however, is Cary S. Leibowitz, that fine whiner of the late ‘80s, who never leaves you in the dark as to what he means. One of his small plaque-like paintings reads “i wish liposuction were free,” another, “i wish painting were dead.” Leibowitz’s plaintive bitching is always refreshing, mainly because in his case, talent and chutzpah win out over pathos. He’s so good at painting— and complaining—that he may never get his wish to do anything else.