Friday, February 3, 2023
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What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries Right Now


Want to see new art in New York this weekend? Start in Chelsea with JoAnne Carson’s electric color at Washburn Gallery. Then head to TriBeCa to see Richard Bosman’s witty paintings at Nicelle Beauchene. Or venture to Brooklyn to see the whimsical works in ‘For the Birds’ at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Summer hours vary at galleries. Visitors should check in advance.

Chelsea

Through July 29. Washburn Gallery, 177 10th Avenue, Manhattan; 212-397-6780, washburngallery.com.

If you like paintings that grab your eyes and won’t let go, consider JoAnne Carson’s recent work at Washburn: eight midsize paintings of single trees, each its own universe of botanical forms, electric color, visionary light, possible planets and pop culture references. If Charles Burchfield had worked for Walt Disney, he might have come up with these.

Along with five drawings, these canvases comprise Carson’s first solo in a Manhattan gallery since 1990. They continue four decades of riffing on trees, flowers and plants — enlarged, distorted and reinvented to the point of a weird, even scary autonomy — in both two and three dimensions. (See “Bouquet,” from 2001, a pale blue array of enlarged blooms the size of a small tree in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.) They also graft together aspects of American Regionalism, European modernism and children’s book illustration and presumably benefit from Carson’s avid hobby — gardening.

Carson takes advantage of every pictorial possibility, including landscape backgrounds, cloud patterns, times of day. The faceted tree trunk in “Updraft” echoes the greens and browns of early Cubism. It is guarded by small trees that suggest spear points in a red/orange setting, where comets zoom, and parallel bands of yellow clouds may await the notes of the music of the spheres. Its branches harbor a slightly demonic mask of pink and lavender that matures into what seems to be E.T.’s face in “Sunny,” two paintings away.

These are Carson’s best paintings yet and their excellence can’t be an isolated incident. Her early ’80s relief paintings — Natalia Goncharova meets Elizabeth Murray — should be revisited. ROBERTA SMITH

Tribeca

Through July 29. Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, 7 Franklin Place, Manhattan; 212-375-8043, nicellebeauchene.com.

Richard Bosman’s artworks in “Painters Painting” fuse the workmanlike efficiency of a billboard painter with the elegant cunning of a chess master. In “Museum Wall” (2015), each of the 34 painted copies of iconic works, from Frida Kahlo to El Greco, is casually pinned on a gray rectangle painted across the rear gallery’s wall. On Instagram they will look like fine renderings, but here you’ll see how each is a loose jotting where this Hudson Valley-based artist puts down the likeness and then proceeds. Next move.

Two paintings of doors — “Giorgio Morandi Door” and “Piet Mondrian Door,” both 2016 — are attached at their right edges to opposite walls, demarcating either end of a central corridor. Within, two paintings, “Van Gogh Palette” and “Miro Palette,” both 2022, each feature oversized thumb holes and wittily play up the wet-on-wet impasto of grand abstraction. Nearby, in a clever bit of curatorial arranging, painted reproductions of the backs of canvases, as in “Picasso – 5.3.28” (2016), hang diagonally opposite from the actual verso of the door paintings, where Bosman’s own scrawled surname seems to read: “Boom.”

In the front gallery, next to the in-progress canvas in “Rothko’s Studio” (2011), see how the lines of the floorboards disappear in an overpainted brown quadrilateral above the first step of the ladder. A glitch left in, and why not? It’s just painting — brilliant, knowing, joyful. JOHN VINCLER

Brooklyn

Through Oct. 23. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-623-7260; bbg.org.

You never need extra reasons to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. But “For the Birds” has installed plenty of fresh excuses to make the trip, in the form of more than 30 whimsical new birdhouses scattered around the grounds. (The project also includes an album of birdsong-inspired music, among other things.)

Commissioned from both artists and architects, the birdhouses cover a wide range of visual possibilities. They’re as small — and as apparently inaccessible to anything larger than a baby hummingbird — as Mary Frank’s birch bark “Habitat” in the Shakespeare Garden, or as tall and extravagantly welcoming as Julie Peppito’s 14-foot pile of found objects and concrete, “United Birds of America (E Pluribus Unum).” They’re as rickety and charming as an island of recycled mineral oil jugs, designed especially for blue herons, that Chen Chen and Kai Williams installed in the Japanese Garden’s pond, or as sleek and ominous as the hardwood tower for crows lurking at the edge of Aster Field. (Erected by a collective called Bureau Spectacular, working with the architect Kyle May, that one is called “A Flock Without a Murder.”)

Not every last birdhouse in the garden is equally compelling, or even well constructed. But in a way it doesn’t matter, since the scavenger-hunt aspect of the show is so delightful. And anyway, the project’s real audience — even its real art — is in the mixed flock of winged passers-by it’s been attracting. WILL HEINRICH


Tribeca

Through July 15. Broadway Gallery, 373 Broadway, Manhattan. 212-226-4001; broadwaygallery.nyc.

John Riepenhoff likes to paint the sky in plein-air. He’s done it all over the world, but the paintings currently showing at Broadway Gallery were made in his hometown, Milwaukee, where he also runs a space of his own, Green Gallery.

They range in size from 2 by 3 feet to 7 by 8 feet, use oil, acrylic and sometimes flashe, and are all titled “Skies.” One is covered with a reticulated pattern; another shows a vertical rain of vigorous long dashes. All of them make a monochrome impression of smoky gray-blue, though Riepenhoff uses various tones to achieve this effect, including smudges of pink and orange in the background and the occasional tiny dot of bright yellow or purple.

They’re not literally figurative, but you can’t definitively call them nonfigurative, either. By rendering his blots and dashes in a single, variable color that leaves plenty of unprimed gray linen exposed, what Riepenhoff succeeds in depicting isn’t the look of the open sky, but its feel — its emptiness, its paradoxical density, the weird spiritual disquiet you may experience when staring into something infinite and intangible.

He’s also succeeded in assembling one of the more stylistically coherent shows I’ve seen in quite a while, a suite of paintings that feel like the healthy elaboration of a single idea. Two naïve little ceramic owls, one perched on the gallery’s desk and one over the door, add a charming accent. WILL HEINRICH

Tribeca

Through July 23. Postmasters, 54 Franklin Street, Manhattan, 212-727-3323, postmastersart.com.

The Plastic Sublime dominates Gracelee Lawrence’s second New York solo show. The sculptures in her 2019 debut were often enlarged, distorted or hybrid vegetal forms in pale single colors produced on 3-D printers, which use plastic thread.

Now, in “Heat Sync” at Postmasters, Lawrence is going mostly for shine and bright, artificial colors, used singly or in multiples, thanks to variegated threads. The resulting pieces seem enveloped in shiny gift-wrap ribbon. They can be mouthwatering.

The artist’s thinking expands throughout the show. The often covetable, earlier works from 2020-21 are small, rounded pieces of fruit, with weird additions; take the fat, icing-like scrawls atop the two orbs of “Desiccated Poignancy.”

In larger, more ambitious works from 2022, female torsos arch out from the walls, and the fruits and vegetables repeat, replace or obscure various body parts in sexually provocative or devotional ways. “Think All-Softly” suggests an idol whose body has simply absorbed the edibles left on her altar, creating a gorgeous Rubik’s-Cube-like aggregate of blues and silvers. “Eternal Audience of One” is a series of luminous green and gray bands, running horizontally and vertically. In both pieces, Lawrence ingeniously exploits her small 3-D printers; her larger sculptures must be produced in blocks and then seamlessly pieced together.

There are other kinds of works here, including a possible update on the “Winged Victory” painted in small Tiepolesque patches of pastel colors that is both odd and promising. This is a great show, to which my initial reaction was, for some reason, “Take that, Jeff Koons.” ROBERTA SMITH

Chelsea

Through July 29. 303 Gallery, 555 West 21st Street; 212-255-1121, 303gallery.com.

What is happening in Katinka Bock’s photographs? Games are played and objects are dispassionately displayed, but an uncanny sensation runs through the Paris-based German artist’s exhibition “Logbook for Some and Any.”

There is good reason for feeling perplexed. The small, unidentified marble shapes in “Some and Any Fleeting, 1” and “Some and Any Fleeting, 2” (2022) are actually game pieces from ancient Egypt, made around 3100 B.C.E. The pointy objects propped on human fingers in “Some and Any Fleeting, 4” and “Some and Any Fleeting, 5” (2022) are sixth-century B.C.E. Etruscan bronze deer hooves, probably used as vessel supports. Other photographs feature a tiny silver snake from ancient Greece and human eyes and ears taken from an Egyptian limestone sculpture. Elsewhere, the sculptural installation “FYEO III” (2016) has a clay cylinder in which a flower bouquet was wrapped and fired in a kiln.

The familiar-unfamiliar aspect of Bock’s work is due partly to its resemblance to earlier art: the surrealistic photographs of Man Ray, Tina Modotti and Gabriel Orozco and the biomorphic sculptures of Barbara Hepworth, Hans Arp and Henry Moore. Yet Bock also skillfully suggests how objects and styles shift over time and circumstance. Is this criminal evidence or a museum treasure? Leisure pursuit or war game? In art — and particularly in photography — it could be all-of-the-above. The same could be said, though, for the objects on view, which have changed hands and whose use and meaning has shifted over the course of millenniums. MARTHA SCHWENDENER

LOWER EAST SIDE

Through July 23. Bureau, 178 Norfolk Street, Manhattan; 212-227-2783, bureau-inc.com.

Ellie Ga creates precise wanderings. Ga’s video work extends from the cinematic-essay tradition of Agnès Varda and Chris Marker. “Quarries” begins on a ferry in New York Harbor during a heat wave and ends in Lisbon with a final image of two patterns of waves; the bottom half in bands of black and white made from calçada, traditional Portuguese paving stones in a plaza at the edge of the undulating sea, which occupies the upper half. What connects these images and places? A sense of drift, but also, a rigorous documentary stitch work. Along the way, the narrative binds together the artist’s brother, paralyzed with a crushed hand; a Greek island inhabited only by bees and the ruins of a re-education camp; and a laboratory teeming with thousands of mosquitoes.

“We’re getting close to identifying what intentions look like in the brain,” the chief scientist who studies neurons in flies tells us in the voice-over narration. So too does “Quarries” make visible the process of the artist’s mind at work, chasing — intentionally — after connections, accruing into a work that is philosophical, playful and surprising, with the artist’s hands often shown handling projected transparencies, sorting through images as a scholar might organize footnoted citations. Ga’s work recalls artists I love, like the films of Tacita Dean and the video work of Moyra Davey. The only problem is watching the 40 minutes of “Quarries” once just isn’t enough. JOHN VINCLER


LOWER EAST SIDE

Through July 22. Peter Blum, 176 Grand Street, Manhattan; 212-244-6055, peterblumgallery.com.

“I would stand up for that flag,” an artist commented on a social media post featuring a photo of Nicholas Galanin’s “White Flag” (2022), a sculpture with a polar bear rug mounted on a rough wooden staff. At a time when flags representing nations and political causes feel particularly fraught, “White Flag,” in Galanin’s exhibition “It Flows Through” at Peter Blum, feels poignant.

Galanin, an Alaska-based artist whose work often refers to his Tlingit and Unangax heritage, frequently draws on the nonhuman world. In addition to “White Flag,” which nods to both surrender and spiritual power — but also the threat against this endangered species — there is “Infinite Weight” (2022), which features a taxidermied wolf mounted upside down on the ceiling and a video loop of a live wolf. “Anax Yaa Nadéin (it is flowing through it)” (2022) is a wall installation of found baskets with eyes and nose-holes cut into them to resemble the balaclavas of activists, terrorists or freedom fighters — or perhaps spirits or shamans. Many of the works here use the ready-made tactics of artists like David Hammons or Jimmie Durham, which turn found objects into sharp critiques of colonialism and racism.

Galanin can be overly didactic: In addition to his sculptures, prints and photographs, he has written texts to explain the works. He doesn’t need to do this. Viewers are smart enough to draw their own conclusions and his objects, which rest on the X factor of unexpected interventions and juxtapositions, are vastly more powerful and persuasive. MARTHA SCHWENDENER

Chelsea

Through July 29. Hauser & Wirth, 542 West 22nd Street, Manhattan. 212-790-3900, hauserwirth.com.

Artists are models of freedom. It’s part of the fantasy that sustains art’s cultural relevance, but artmaking is work.

The star of Nicole Eisenman’s “(Untitled) Show” is an oversized cartoonish figure sitting at the center of “Maker’s Muck” (2022). The hands of this plaster sculpture are at a potter’s wheel that’s spinning away interminably producing rocklike forms that pile on its right. Surrounding, on the low sprawling platform, are numerous other sculptural attempts, among them: baked flatbread, an oversized ketchup bottle and what appears to be a time bomb. As a whole, the eclectic accumulation reads as an emblem about the necessity to fail and the need to keep at it.

The mischievous whimsy of Eisenman’s sculptures shouldn’t distract you from seriously looking at the paintings, which use a grab bag of modernist formal approaches and techniques (like raked paint for the texture of clothing or hair). The Brooklyn artist often uses several styles in the same work, as in the standout painting, “The Abolitionists in the Park” (2020-21). There’s pizza and tender embraces among a crowd gathered on a blue tarp, with Guston-like caricatures occupying the margins and a realist dual-portrait of Hannah Black and Tobi Haslett occupying the middle. Black and Haslett are the authors (along with Ciarán Finlayson) of “The Tear Gas Biennial,” a 2019 essay protesting the presence of a weapons manufacturer on the Whitney Museum’s board. This is ambitious history painting thinking through freedom, asking whose? JOHN VINCLER

Upper East Side

Through July 29. Meredith Ward Fine Art, 44 East 74th Street, Manhattan; 212-744-7306, meredithwardfineart.com; through June 18 at Anton Kern Gallery, 16 East 55th Street, Manhattan; 212-367-9663, antonkerngallery.com.

Two gallery shows celebrate the achievement of the Puerto Rico-born artist, Frank Diaz Escalet (1930-2012), who initially made paintings from stained leather before translating its rich flat colors into acrylic paint. Escalet’s life had its share of sadness, but the condensed version centers on a man who, from 1958 to 1971, lived in a loft on the Bowery, frequented New York’s jazz scene and enjoyed considerable success providing custom-made leather garments for celebrity clients, who included Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones. In 1971, he moved to Maine, where demand for his designs disappeared, and by the mid-1980s, he had turned full time to his leather paintings.

The two shows reflect the breadth of Escalet’s subjects and sympathies, from mythic musicians to moments in ordinary, sometimes oppressed, lives. “Sing Me the Blues” at Meredith Ward reflects an ecumenical love of music with works titled “Taxi Dancers, 1940s,” “Nite at the Opera,” “Tango No. 12” and “Can-Can.” “Prez ‘n’ Blue” silhouettes the saxophonist Lester Young and the trumpeter Blue Mitchell in performance against big geometric planes of bright magenta and yellow.

The show at Anton Kern, organized with the Andrew Kreps Gallery and Kaufmann Repetto, begins with an especially beautiful untitled composition in leather from 1975: a gramophone with a psychedelic sound horn, a muscular arm operating its hand crank and, floating before it, a pair of eyes and singing lips — all this against a background of pale buttery yellow. Other works feature a chain gang, a washerwoman and an airman about to hand-spin a plane’s propeller. These shows are both great. ROBERTA SMITH

LOWER EAST SIDE

Through July 30. Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, 88 Essex Street, No. 21, Manhattan; 212-420-9202, artistsallianceinc.org.

The work that parents, especially mothers, do to raise their kids is often referred to as “invisible labor” because it happens out of the public eye. In her solo exhibition, “Ecologies of Care,” Ani Liu quantifies that amount of labor and makes it visible, turning her experience of new motherhood into a series of thought-provoking artworks.

Liu came to art by way of architecture and then technology: For her master’s thesis, she used an EEG device to control the movement of sperm on a custom circuit. The pieces here harness technology to consider what it means to be a parent. The investigation is physical — for example, custom machines pumping a breast milk look-alike through looping tubes — and cultural, as with works showcasing gendered toys generated by a machine-learning algorithm (e.g. “Silver Scented Pony Hair Barbie Doll”).

The strongest pieces translate Liu’s physical experiences into mediated self-portraits, following feminist artists like Teresa Burga, Lynn Hershman Leeson and Adrian Piper. There’s a quiet tension between the art’s sleek appearance and the visceral realities of parenting, and in the attempt to impose order on a process that’s stubbornly unpredictable. “Untitled (Labor of Love)” (2022) charts every feeding and diaper change during the first 30 days of Liu’s infant’s life through vials containing breast milk, formula and pieces of diapers. To this childless writer, it was an eye-opening lesson — all the more acute in a post-Roe America — in just how much labor it takes to keep someone alive. JILLIAN STEINHAUER

LONG ISLAND CITY

Through Aug. 1. SculptureCenter, 44-19 Purves Street, Long Island City, Queens. 718-361-1750; sculpture-center.org.

Earlier this year the artist Lydia Ourahmane, having cleared reams of Algerian bureaucracy, traveled with some collaborators, led by Tuareg guides with donkeys, to Tassili n’Ajjer, a hostile and baroquely beautiful plateau deep in the Sahara whose jagged sandstone formations harbor caverns rich in prehistoric rock paintings. “Tassili,” Ourahmane’s 46-minute video shown on a huge screen at SculptureCenter, is, on one level, an absorbing landscape study from the point of view of a trekker in this terrain, its beauty enhanced by a swelling score in four parts by different electronic-music composers. An accompanying sculpture by Ourahmane and Yuma Burgess, who was on the trip, employs black thermoplastic tiles encoded with topographic information collected on site then modified in the studio using machine learning.

One lyrical and lush, the other abstract and coded, each work is a kind of response to land that resists interpretation. The Tassili was verdant 10,000 years ago; it drew colonial explorers in the 1950s who damaged rock art while trying to document it; today it lies on trafficking and migration routes. History draws the Algerian-born, British-educated Ourahmane to the Tassili, yet her project is open-ended and ultimately metaphysical — evidenced by a quote in the gallery text from the Tuareg novelist Ibrahim al-Koni, for whom the desert is “the only place where we can visit death … Because it is the isthmus between total freedom and existence.” SIDDHARTHA MITTER

HUDSON YARDs

Through Aug. 5. Sean Kelly Gallery, 475 10th Avenue, Manhattan; 212-239-1181, skny.com.

“Care, growth, abundance, rebirth, loss, dislocation, the forgotten” are what the sculptor Layo Bright says are the key concerns that undergird her work in the group show “Undercurrents.” These interests first strike me as particularly millennial, but then I look at “Double Standard” (2022), two coruscating, yet darkly foreboding rectangles of glass epoxied over nylon tote bags. Then listening to her discuss the 1983 forced deportation of Ghanaians from her native Nigeria I realize this is a profoundly purposeful reflection on the inequities of migration. All her work is also visually delectable, especially the “Visions” (2022) pieces, kiln-formed-glass visages combined with natural elements such as leaves to look like 21st-century building capitals. The curators, Marissa Del Toro and Jamillah Hinson, installed the work high on the walls so that it reads just this way.

“Undercurrents” is a show by graduates of the NXTHVN fellowship program, thus, as you might expect, it’s a smorgasbord — though laid out elegantly. There are some cartoonish, propulsive, almost surreal paintings by John Guzman that do surprising things to human faces. Alyssa Klauer’s paintings are all fey, ethereally glowing portraits with the repeated motif of one woman’s silhouette merging with another. There are almost gimmicky paintings by Patrick Quarm that owe something to Kehinde Wiley and employ vividly colored portraits of Black people pierced by strategically placed holes.

The entire exhibition feels like the assembled artists do consider loss, dislocation and the forgotten, and yet find their way to abundance. SEPH RODNEY

SOHO

Through Aug. 14. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, 26 Wooster Street, Manhattan; 212-431-2609, leslielohman.org.

Growing up in Chile, Lorenza Böttner’s fascination with birds compelled her at the age of 8 to climb a utility pole topped by a bird’s nest. As she later told it, she was startled by the sudden opening of the mother bird’s wings and fell, grabbing onto the surrounding electrical wires, seriously burning both arms, resulting in their amputation. Her medical care brought her to Germany, where she attended the Kassel School of Art. Here she took the name Lorenza, publicly presented as a woman and began incorporating gender play in her art following a tradition from Claude Cahun to the Cockettes. She also commenced the multimedia works casting herself as Venus de Milo, seen in this exhibition, “Requiem for the Norm,” curated by the philosopher and transgender activist Paul B. Preciado. “I saw that many Greek statues without arms were admired for their beauty,” Böttner said. “I wanted to show the beauty of the crip body.” In her large-scale works on paper, Böttner used feet in lieu of hands, as dramatized in a Faber-Castell 1991 commercial, here on view, with the artist as a straitjacketed man drawing his way out of a white padded room with only his feet and a box of pastels.

One of her last works — a bouquet of flowers drawn on a hospital pad with markers most likely held in her mouth — brought me to tears. Completed in 1993, the year before her death from AIDS-related illness, it shows an unrelenting insistence on beauty. JOHN VINCLER

CHELSEA

Through Aug. 12. Lehmann Maupin Gallery, 501 West 24th Street, Manhattan; 212-255- 2923; lehmannmaupin.com.

Teresita Fernández is known for installations that coax viewers into an awareness of their bodies in space. Here she takes the role of curator, assembling nine artists who are also interested in ways of perceiving that are not strictly visual — it’s work that is as much felt as seen.

Adriana Corral transfers archival documents onto prepared gesso boards for her “palimpsests,” layering the imprints so some parts remain legible while others accumulate into impenetrable abstract veils. Occasionally, a word or image is decipherable, offering horrifying evidence of how 20th-century Mexican immigrants were subjected to toxic “disinfection” by U.S. authorities for fear they would spread disease. Close by, Francheska Alcántara combines Hispano cuaba soap — ubiquitous in Caribbean households, used for everything from washing clothes to healing wounds — with charred wood to make “Tiger Jaw,” III and IV, both 2022, which hang on the wall like protective amulets. “Star Spangled” (2019) by Esteban Ramón Pérez combines leather (remnants from his father’s upholstery shop) and other scraps to cobble together a map of America that looks like flayed white skin. The intricate thread-and-nail work in Glendalys Medina’s “The Owl (El Búho)” from 2020, inspired by Taino myth, or the weaving in Kira Dominguez Hultgren’s “A Perpetual and Continuous Splitting” (2022), which draws on multiple South and Central American traditions, make you acutely aware of the precise bodily movements that must have gone into making them. Through a sensitivity to material and process, these artists reveal histories often invisible to the eye. ARUNA D’SOUZA

east village

Through Aug. 28. Swiss Institute, 38 St. Marks Place, Manhattan; 212-925-2035, swissinstitute.net.

We are in a moment of gender upheaval, with individuals questioning the roles of biology and culture in establishing traditional binaries. However, the drawings, paintings, photographs and videos of the Zurich-based artist Walter Pfeiffer from the 1970s into the 2000s remind us that this is only another moment of inquiry, not the first one. Gender fluidity and performance of all types run through Pfeiffer’s career survey at the Swiss Institute.

Pfeiffer was born in a small Swiss village and moved to Zurich in 1966 to attend the alternative art school F+F (Form und Farbe, or “Shape and Color.”) Many of the works here echo the experiments of that decade — as well as Dada, which originated in Zurich half a century earlier. Diaristic photographs and videos capture people dressing up in costumes and performing for the camera in a manner that echoes artists like Jack Smith, Jonas Mekas and Andy Warhol — but also pop stars like Elvis Presley. When Pfeiffer went back to F+F as a teacher, he recruited students as models for his photographs and his mock music videos.

Pfeiffer’s best and most poignant model, however, was a young man named Carlo Joh. Shape-shifting before the camera, Joh had all the chameleon trappings of an androgynous fashion model or a gender-bending rock star such as Mick Jagger, David Bowie or Marc Bolan. Unfortunately, Joh died of a mysterious illness in the mid-1970s. Like many great art muses, though, he seemed never destined to age. MARTHA SCHWENDENER

Chinatown

On view indefinitely. Martos After Dark, 167 Canal Street, Manhattan; 212-260-0670; martosgallery.com.

Tyree Guyton came home to Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt in 1986. The neighborhood — like many in the city’s inner ring — has been gutted by decades of white flight and pointed neglect. Guyton cleaned up a string of fallow lots, then assembled the junk into bitter monuments of resilience. The resulting Heidelberg Project lines a long block with bleached mountains of shoes, harlequin tableaus of rusty cars and an acrobatic stack of shopping carts. Guyton’s topsy-turvy paintings of clocks, some turned around or without numbers, dot the view like roadside Bible verses. “Time is running out,” they seem to say: “Repent!” Bold designs cover nearby houses — some abandoned, but a few in solidarity with their residents against attacks from NIMBY arsonists and philistine politicians.

Gradually, the winds changed. Detroit’s ruling class now see the value that public art and selfie-hunting tourists bring to real estate — or, less cynically, see art Guyton’s way: as part of the blighted city’s spiritual recovery. Today, Heidelberg Project enjoys official status. And Guyton is franchising: A corner storefront on Canal Street in Chinatown contains a slice of Heidelberg. Through the glass, blotchy, costumed mannequins sit around a cluttered table and a TV painted with the words “World New.” A vacuum inhales an American flag. Clocks cover the walls. The domestic scene feels incongruous and vivisected at street level. Is this the neighborhood’s past? Its future? Detroit? New York? The display advertises the larger project. It also invokes the specter of urban renewal in downtown Manhattan. Time, time, time … TRAVIS DIEHL



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