This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.

A Sunday gallery stroll, one chalupa at a time

Carter Mull
Carter Mull
One of my favorite ways to spend my Sunday is doing the Williamsburg gallery art tour, with my bike for navigational ease, and a post-Saturday night appetite for all the goodies in the neighborhood. After all, any exhibition is better viewed with pure satisfaction — the kind you get after a big plate of huevos rancheros. With that in mind, my morning began at Grand Morales where the portions are large and the staff is friendly. The burritos are great but depending on your night, I say start off easy.

A good deal of calories later, helmet on head and smile on face, I went to my first exhibition at Brooklyn Fire Proof titled “Post Retro.” The exhibition examines the reassessment of trends and styles when they are seen in retrospect; like when something dead and gone suddenly resurfaces (think bell bottoms) and a present trend owes its tendencies to a retro influence that is often re-used and recycled. This notion, of course, applies to fashion and cultural tastes as well as to art. My full belly needed to digest much like this rather complex curatorial theme; both were loaded and full of diversity. Filled with cultural references to our society of plenty in desire for more, this show offers a veritable smorgasbord of art, replete with bright colors, clever installations and a really cool photograph by Carter Mull that presents the messy wasteland of the present. Mull’s nearly obsessive abstractions are assembled collages of little bits of what can be detritus, scattered about in cluttered chaos yet put together in perfectly constructed cohesion. His piece evokes our rambunctious lives, replete with noise and dissonance but always somehow aligned and composed to give the illusion of structure.

Back on the bike for a leisurely stroll to Driggs where the Matthew Hansel exhibition “Youth is Wasted” really took me back. Hansel’s paintings of stoned teenagers smoking pot in the woods were a beautiful departure from my angst-ridden teen memories of the 90s. Instead, his simple, almost dream-like canvases portray peaceful kids doing what they enjoy most—getting wrecked in the tranquility of nature. The paintings themselves are very delicate, as though covered with a gossamer haze of smoke amidst a nostalgic tone of psychedelic colors. Nothing would have complimented this viewing like blazing on a sunny afternoon. But alas, I had nothing but visions of Mexican food, another great post-toke activity. I had to settle for the exhibition and a vicarious journey through my teenage days thanks to Hansel’s poignant vision.

Matthew Hansel
Matthew Hansel
Now it was time for a later afternoon snack at Matamoros, the amazing little restaurant counter behind the Bodega on Bedford. A quick peak into Black and White Gallery reveals the exhibition “Compass: New Directions,” which astutely examines the conceptual ramifications of spatial dynamics. Indeed, the show is the polar opposite of the next-door Matthew Hansel exhibition. I wish I could have inspected it further, especially Kathy Marmor’s impressive light and sound installation that rattles and shakes its myriad of little electric gadgets while blinking blue lights scream “Love,” a truly trippy follow-up that would have made me even happier had I have actually smoked up. Oh well; still a great show worthy of attention. Finally, a delicious afternoon snack to cure even the soberest of munchies: a taco de pollo or two at Matamoros.

Bicycle in tow, and I was off to Cinders Gallery, the fourth and final stop on my mobile tour of all things delectable. The current exhibition “Handplant,” drawings by Allyson Mellburg and Jeremy Taylor are the perfect desert to any grease-ball of a culinary journey. These seemingly pretty, elegant drawings depict people and animals covered with shit, dirt, disease and death. Pondering over our complicated relationship to all things alive but not human, Mellburg and Taylor draw skinny pock-marked boys, bloody rabbits, dying ducks and other head-tilting, thought-provoking creatures that echo a tragic fate—not unlike that of our country and maybe our generation, as suggested in in the previous exhibitions discussed. This show will make you contemplate that chalupa an extra moment or two the next time, before you blindly scarf it down and come back for more.

Tired and ready to call it a day, I ventured back on the bike for one last stop at Santa Fe, where they make the best Bloody Marias this side of the Mason-Dixon line. Its spicy, thick goodness let me contemplate the plethora of aesthetic creations I just saw and the culinary mass I just ingested. Good art, good food, a bike and some money left for a beer! That’s what I call a happy Sunday.