Back to Forward With Art: 2015 / 2016


Peter Schuyff at Mary Boone. Photograph by Jonathan Quinn.

A few weeks ago I posted an informatively entertaining—I don’t think I’d be the only one to describe it thusly—and collaboratively crafted roundup of NYC art in 2015, “The Dear Readers Edition.” After it went live, some of the contributors mentioned that many other shows came to mind that they might have included, and a number of others wanted to add their two cents.

All that led to this piece, “Back to Forward,” in which some dear-as-ever contributors—mostly Brooklyn-based curators and artists—list a handful of shows they recall with certain fondness from 2015, then go on to name a few things they’re looking forward to in 2016, including shows and events with which they’re involved.

Not Brooklyn-specific, and not even NYC-specific, this piece will take you all over—from a certain corner of a certain state in the US most broadly known for its electoral primaries (right?) to Cuba, The Europe and Bangladesh. Even all the way to Philadelphia!

In fact, this piece will also take you far, far away from Earth, because I’ll add right here that some of my favorite things to look at and ponder this year—in addition to many of the things about which I’ve written, and many others about which I would’ve liked to write—have been the images of Pluto and Comet 67P that keep streaming back to our planet unto immediate internet-ization. Funny, really, that our wonderful little dwarf planet named after the Greek god of the underworld turns out to be cuddle-rifically emblazoned with a big old heart, like a huge love banner or nether-solar-systemic Care Bear. Perhaps it was drawn there with an oar by Charon, Pluto’s boat-conducting moon, as a distant admonition to cease our unrelenting patterns of turning our planet into an eventually uninhabitable hell, or as a form of timelessly timely counsel for us to put a damper on the flames of intolerance and hatred that have raged all over the place this year. If so, Charon, nice try! Surely we’ll ignore that oracular warning for as long as possible. (I’ll avoid taking this allegory any further by not mentioning how it could also extend to a most splendid passage of literally heart-rending import in Dante’s Vita Nova, even though its relevance is actually… Okay, I’ll stop.)

And now, back to Earth.

For lots of art in “Back to Forward.”

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Stanley Whitney at Karma Books. Photo by Anne Russinof.
Stanley Whitney at Karma Books. Photo by Anne Russinof.

Anne Russinof
– Magnificence of focus: Stanley Whitney at both the Studio Museum in Harlem and at Karma Books.
– Magnificence of breadth: “Sideshow Nation III: Circle the Wagons”
– Magnificence of intensity: Joyce Pensato at Petzel
– Magnificence of surface: Kazimira Rachfal at Janet Kurnatowski Gallery
– Magnificence of Modernism: Mary Heilmann at 303 Gallery
I am looking forward to being in “The Onward of Art: American Abstract Artists 80th Anniversary Exhibition.” Curated by Karen Wilkin, it will be at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Gallery, NYC on view from Jan. 18 – March 25, 2016. Opening reception on Tuesday, January 19th.

Deborah Brown
– James ‘Son Ford’ Thomas: “The Devil and His Blues,” 80WSE Gallery, NYU Steinhardt, NYC.
– “Florence, Portraits at the Court of the Medicis,” Musee Jacquemard-Andre, Paris, France.
– Derek Fordjour, “Upper Room,” Robert Blumenthal Gallery, NYC.
– Loie Hollowell, “AHHA,” 106 Green Gallery, Brooklyn. NY.
– Lior Modan, NUTUREart, Brooklyn, NY.
– Sharon Butler, Theodore Art, Brooklyn, NY, opens January 8.
– Janet Biggs, “within touching distance,” Cristin Tierney, NYC, opens January 7.
– “Space, Light and Disorder,” group show curated by Marilla Palmer, Kathryn Markel Gallery, NYC, opens January 7.
– And a self-interested plug: Deborah Brown (project room), Art 3, Brooklyn, NY, opens March 30.

Jonathan Quinn
– There is so much to get excited about regarding the new Whitney. “America is Hard to See” got things off to a contentious start, but what a pleasure it was to see Hannah Wilke taking her rightful place.
– Studio 10 was on the mark throughout the year. I was especially impressed with Patrick Killoran and his “Exeunt Angels” show. Signing a contract meant he owns your shadow.
– “Peter Schuyff” returned to New York at Mary Boone’s 745 5th Ave location and reminded me that his deceptively playful surfaces were once the last word in a trendy geometric revival. It’s still true—perhaps more than ever.
– An evolving start for a brave new space: The aura-filled Buggy Factory in Bushwick has ambitions. At “Chronicles in Wait,” I particularly liked the David Henderson piece. You might say it reverberated for me.
– “Adam Fuss” at Cheim & Read. Because photographic happenstance can and should be a process of discovery.
– William Anastasi’s “Puzzle” makes the case for a shaped surface to function as both a segment of an implied whole and its ideation.That might sound like a puzzle because it is. Sandra Gering, 14 East 63rd street.
– Bushwick Open Studios, of course. It’s been a privilege to be part of it.
– Kate Teale at Studio 10. Exciting new work.
– Sharon Butler at Theodore:Art. Will she continue developing her New Casualist tradition?

Todd Kelly exhibition at Asya Geisberg. Photograph by Etienne Frossard.
Todd Kelly exhibition at Asya Geisberg. Photograph by Etienne Frossard.

Enrico Gomez
In addition to the shows that I listed before, the following have lingered sweetly in my memory throughout 2015 and deserve a fond mention:
– Davina Semo “HOLDING THE BAG,” at Rawson Projects, New York, NY
– Todd Kelly, “Jolly Liar,” at Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York, NY
– Kim Holleman, Joanne Ungar, “Consumed,” Front Room Gallery, Brooklyn NY
– “Mapping Brooklyn,” curated by Elizabeth Ferrer at BRIC House, Brooklyn NY
– Nikolai Ishchuk “Penumbra,” Denny Gallery, New York NY
What’s next for 2016?
I am elated to be guest curating a group show during the month of February at Krista Saunders Scenna and Jill Benson’s beautiful Ground Floor Gallery, and in March (as The Dorado Project) I will be partnering with Nick de Pirro’s PROTO Gallery with a curatorial selection of works at the Art On Paper Art Fair (March 3-6, 2016) at Pier 36. As for my own work, I am excited to be included in “Original Copy,” a group exhibition curated by Sarah Sharp and Parsley Steinweiss, which is part of the SPRING/BREAK Art Show (March 2-7, 2016) at Moynihan Station.

Jeffrey Bishop
This would all be in addition what I listed last time, all of which was in Brooklyn. I am going to have to go with some of the big shows, because there were some great ones.
– On Kawara at the Guggenheim.
I expected to be engaged, conceptually, philosophically, intellectually. I didn’t expect to be blown away emotionally. Tables were turned on the viewer and I was floored.
– Jacob Lawrence at MoMA.
I was fortunate to have had Jake as an instructor in grad school. So impressed by his modesty and grace. Then you see the history that he witnessed and keeps alive brilliantly. Our fractured and tragic history is also beautiful in Lawrence’s hands.
– Matisse at MoMA
Went four times and would have happily gone again. Pure physicality and much overlooked invention. Unqualified visual joy.
– Hito Steyerl at Artists Space
Heard so much about her show in German Pavilion in Venice but had to settle for this strong show, plus a read of her powerful book, “The Wretched of the Screen.” Highly recommended.
– Mark Bradford at Hauser and Wirth
Nails something for me both intensely personal and worldly. I just like this guy’s painting.
– Man there were so many many more. Good art and artists are ever sustaining and reassuring in a world that is increasingly teetering and imploding.
I don’t know what might leave my studio this year, so the show is right here in messy progress. Open invitation to all to stop by! And may this New Year bring more joy, intelligence and humor, and less pain, consternation and destruction, to our only planet.

Jeff Feld
So many great things in 2015, these especially stood out:
– Matisse, “The Cut Outs,” and Robert Gober, “The Heart is not a Metaphor,” both at MoMA, both at the same time—a fantastic pairing and a great start to the year.
– Cynthia Diagnault, “Light Atlas,” at Lisa Cooley.
– “Torn and Fired, New work in collage and clay,” at Outlet.
– Robin Winters, “Free Standing Sentence,” at Present and Co.
– Giorgio Morandi at CIMA.
– Pierre Huyghe, “The Roof Garden Commission,” at The Met.
I’m looking forward to Tom Butter at Studio 10, which opens 1/2/16, and to Fischli and Weiss at the Guggenheim.


A piece of public art in Cuba. Photograph by Richard Sigmund.
A piece of public art in Cuba. Photograph by Richard Sigmund.

Richard Sigmund
The first show that comes to mind is “Last GREXIT to Brooklyn,” the ‘new Greek currency’ show at Centotto, and the piece in there that comes to mind was one by Jeffrey Bishop. It felt effortless and had a sense of joy. Second, another show at Centotto, “Back in Situ.” Kate Teale had a window piece with the touch of accomplishment that can be difficult to achieve because it needs foresight and won’t allow error. Third was a piece at Outpost by Larry Greenberg, at the “The Grid” show. This piece beckons a nostalgic sense for loss of innocence in one’s life.   Fourth was a piece I saw in Cuba by Angel Ramirez, a brave piece that is worked until its soul is exposed and it touches mine. Also in Cuba was a piece of public art, also a brave piece the likes of which I don’t think we would ever see in a public place in the US. I like this piece, being a vegetarian. Fifth was the Helen Frankenthaler show at Gagosian. Works from around 1952 that had gone to conservation for cleaning and were looking very good. A time when ideas in art were changing in scale, technique and intention.
As far as 2016, who knows where the wind will blow, but I will continue to identify works like Donald Judd’s as right wing corporate, and I will never forgive Andy Warhol for doing so many large scale works of Mao. But I will look into the hearts of artists to try to see their intentions and what they want their work to do. I am grateful for art. As a plumber keeps water running and an electrician keeps the energy flowing, so do artists keep the creative process alive. Big smiles and a lot of love.

Mary Judge
– Visit to Oaxaca Mexico taking in the ancient sites, especially Mitla with its strong spiritual vibe, surrounded by wonderfully animated cacti. Use unknown. Perhaps however a collection of ceremonial temples dedicated to the afterlife, filled with complex geometric brick work in relief.
– Matthew F. Fisher at Sardine gallery. I scored a drawing here and fell in love with Matthew’s smallish ink drawings that put together ‘Chicago school’ penchant for symmetry and repetitive pattern, and the iconic wave familiar to us from Japanese woodblock prints, with his own unique imagery.
– The art in the Metro of Naples, Italy. Spent a half of day underground here! The crazy, spectacular, all-encompassing art projects here, under the direction of Achille Bonita Olivia, are mind blowing and an absolute delight.
– “Drawn with Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur from the Joan and Victor Johnson Collection,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Yes there is a theme in my year here, my love for symmetry! Fraktur (“broken lettering”) is an admired form of folk art created by German-speaking immigrants in the 1700s. Many pieces are quite small and in their original frames. Charming, colorful watercolor/ink drawings filled with lovely stylized decorative details—inventive and delightful.
– Opening show of the new Whitney, “America is hard to see,” with the unique woodcuts gifted by my husband, and made by his father, Chiura Obata, an immigrant to the US, executed in Japan but inspired by Yosemite where he backpacked with his family and created many on-site drawings. The entire exhibition and its installation is a big win for American art, and the building shines.
(I also have to toot my 2015 horn: I had drawings acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.)
Looking forward to seeing il grande Burri at the Guggenheim. Looking forward to new programming at the Brooklyn Museum and hoping it rocks. Anything at Cheim & Read, Arlene Schecht at CAM, the new opera season at Opera Theater St Louis. Also, at Schema, Fred Valentine up next! “The Pumpkin Festival and other Portraits,” large scale, very powerful portraits of ‘real people’ by Fred. Opens January 22nd, 6-9pm. Before that, Schema Projects turns 3! 3rd birthday party on January 13th. We are going to roll out a new logo, new tote bags and other fun stuff. Also, I received an MTA commission for a train station. It’s a terrazzo floor design, and I am thrilled about that! Will post details soon.

Stephanie Theodore
– H.C. Westermann at Venus Over Manhattan.
– Gustave Caillebotte at the National Gallery of Art.
– Samuel Laurence Cunnane at Kerlin Gallery (a show that led me to show this young photographer’s work at my gallery as well!).
– Fred Valentine at Studio 10.
– Meriem Bennani at Signal.


Kerry Law
Louis M. Eilshemius at Michael Rosenfeld. I was unaware of his work and this was a revelation. Morandi at CIMA and David Zwirner. “Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River,” at the Met. This show seemed to go under the radar but it contained some lovely figure drawings and wonderful genre paintings filled with incredible moments that revealed a fleeting period in American history. Rudy Burkhardt at Tibor de Nagy. Jack Tworkov at Alexander Grey. Picasso Sculpture at MoMA. I saw so many excellent exhibitions in Brooklyn and Queens this year that including them all would make this list way too long, but one worth mentioning is Stephen Eakin at Honey Ramka.
I am looking forward to ”Insomnia” at the Pelham Art Center. A show I am happy to be a part of with a terrific lineup of artists in the town I grew up in. I’m also looking forward to spending time in my new studio in the Troutman building with a window and a view, making paintings.

Lizbeth Mitty
– Alice Neel Drawings at Zwirner, my absolute top pick.
– “In the Studio: Paintings,” curated by John Elderfield at Gagosian. A museum-quality show of paintings by artists of their own studios.
– “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and their Friends,” at the Met.
– “Van Gogh: Irises and Roses,” at the Met.
– What can I say, I like painting! But I also really liked the sculpture show “Chronicles in Wait,” at The Buggy Factory.
– In 2016, I will be in “Sideshow on Mars,” opening at Life on Mars on January 8, and I’ll be in a show at at BRIC, “Up for Debate,” opening on Feb 4.

Julian A. Jimarez Howard
A lot of great art in 2015. Both here and abroad. Hard to narrow it down, but I’m going to focus on the shows I feel really added value to my repertoire and world view. It just so happens all five are museum shows.
– “Le Bord Des Mondes,” at the Palais de Tokyo. Far and away my favorite show, conceived of and executed as a response to Duchamp’s question: “Can one make works of art which are not ‘of art’?”
– “Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today,” at the MAD Museum. Went to go see this twice. So much left to learn!
– “One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North,” at MoMA (seems like these titles are just getting longer and longer). This show blew me away. Lawrence, just 23 at the time, perfectly merged profoundly moving and original images while also acting as participant, observer, and historian/sociologist.
– “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky,” at the Met. I’m from the Southwest, and the works from this show really play to my heartstrings.
– Doris Salcedo at the Guggenheim. While I hated the way the show was broken up among the galleries—particularly because I had to walk through “Storylines,” which I thought was dreadful—it still allowed Salcedo’s work to be viewed as powerful and apposite in our troubled world.
– Oh, so many Honorable Mentions! “Play” at Mircoscope gallery; “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971,” at MoMA; “Wolfgang Tillmans: Book for Architects,” at the Met; “OVER TIME ACROSS SPACE: a collaboration in thread, paper, ink, paint, cotton, mail, and phone calls,” at Transmitter; “Waylon Tait: Vinyls,” at Dawn Hunter Gallery; “ABSUR -CITY -PITY -DITY;” at Jack Shainman.
– 2016 will be incredibly busy, but in the best possible way. Jason Andrew will open Jeff Schwarz’s show at OUTLET right after the new year—which of course I’m excited about. I’ll be in a show along with Millie Kapp and Georgia Wall, curated by Sessa Englund, January 28th, and I’m giving away all my art for free. Everyone come and get it!. And hopefully I’ll make it to the Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh, followed by a quick trip to India right after that. And that’s just till the end of February…

Ellen Hackl Fagan
Started the year off with the blockbuster “Takashi Murakami, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow,” at Gagosian. His mash up of several thousand years of Eastern religion and mythology brought us up to the self-portraits in gold and silver. In spite of the corporate nature of his materials, I felt his heart beating. “Ruth Root” rocked it at Andrew Kreps. Her odd constructed forms reminded me of ’60s-era handbags and the vinyl printed patterns of kids’ pajamas. She made me want to rush to my studio to play. While visiting my sons in Chicago, I finally made it to the “Roger Brown Study Collection” housed in his old home, artist’s museum and studio in Lincoln Park. Here, my son and I enjoyed seeing Brown’s collection of face jugs from the Carolinas, carved wooden panels from hearses of the early 20th century, and a healthy dose of early Chicago Imagists’ drawings and paintings, accumulated from trades with his friends. On the music side, “Sun Kil Moon,” Mark Kozelek’s ramblings, were jaw dropping. I felt I was witnessing madness unravel an artist while his stream of consciousness ramblings were punctuated with loud shouts, keeping me off center and alert. At ODETTA, “This Is Your Life And You Can Put Anything You Want In It,” by Frogwell, was a terrific world premier of an orchestrated homage to the late Bob Ross. Robert Hardin’s great passion and imagination rewarded us all and supported “Seeing Sound” to a T.
With a family wedding coming up in Madison, WI early in the new year, I plan on seeing “Effigy National Monument” in SE Iowa. These indian mounds, a procession of large scale animal forms on the western bank of the Mississippi River, have been on my bucket list for a long time. I also hope to fit in a stop at F.L. Wright’s “Taliesin,” in Spring Green, WI. At ODETTA, often, the exhibitions are centered on key motifs from James Joyce’s masterwork, “Finnegan’s Wake.” I will begin the year with “Heliotrope.” Alternative art fairs that ODETTA will participate in will be “Creative Tech Week,” with ODETTA as a hub for this confluence of technology and art taking place during the beginning of May, and “FLUX Art Fair.” which will feature outdoor sculpture in the Marcus Garvey Park section of central Harlem. For “Creative Tech Week,” ODETTA will feature “If This, Then What?” presenting technology-driven works that demonstrate cause and effect relationships.

John Avelluto
– Carroll Dunham at Barbara Gladstone
– “Armed by Design/ El Diseño a las Armas,” at Interference Archive
– Meg Hitchcock, “Verbatim, at Studio 10
– “Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden,” Contemporary Painting Symposium at The New Museum (mostly for Molly Zuckerman-Hartung)
– “Sheltered Past,” curated by Jeannine Bardo for Stand, at the historic carriage house in Bay Ridge (full disclosure: I was included in this group exhibition).
– And I was very excited to learn about the work of galleryELL.
– I am very excited about the work being done in Bay Ridge right now. 2015 saw the first ground-level gallery open (Bay Ridge Art Space) with an exhibition, “New Ovington Village,” featuring the work of Bay Ridge artists. There has also been an increase of collective organizing, events and studio visits in the neighborhood organized by local artists Jeannine Bardo, Isabelle Garbani, Anna Lise Jensen and Elena Soterakis.
– For 2016 I am excited to be curating an exhibition at Bay Ridge Art Space, opening on Jan 7th, called “Reanimator,” and I’m looking forward to the 7th Annual 5th Ave Bay Ridge Storefront Art Walk in May.

Carroll Dunham at Barbara Gladstone Gallery. Image courtesy Barbary Gladstone Gallery.
Carroll Dunham at Barbara Gladstone Gallery. Image courtesy Barbary Gladstone Gallery.

Debra Ramsay
Three shows impressed me with their combination of strong work that was within a well curated spatial environment: Li Trincere curated “TwoBlacksOneRed,” combining her work with Chris Gianakos at Ventana 244. Spare, elegant, powerful show. “Thomas Lendvai:10” at ODETTA was a singular amazing structure created in the gallery space, defying our visual sense of gravity, suggesting four quadrants. “Five O’Clock Shadow,” Ron Nagle’s exhibition at Matthew Marks, comprised of 35 ceramic sculptures, most about 4×6 inches, each pushing form, texture, and color, displayed in niches and glass vitrines made in collaboration with the artist. In each of these three shows, the use of space exalted the work. The Doris Salcedo retrospective at the Guggenheim was gut wrenching in a good way. Salcedo’s work addresses the traumatic modern history of Columbia through the means of beautifully worked, incongruous meldings of various parts of wood furniture, often filled with cement. Other sculptures in the exhibition were made of materials that support the political statement while being sensuously worked. “Anne Truitt in Japan” at Matthew Marks was another satisfying exhibition for me. This show of 30+ works on paper resulted from the artist’s rejection of a series of sculptures she had been preparing for a retrospective. It seems Anne took to working on paper to find a more satisfying path, and it proved to be pivotal for her later sculptural work. The work on paper in this show had the quality of searching for line and form, and an exploration of color different from her past work.
I’ll be at the Josef & Anni Albers Foundation Residency in February and March. April will be the month for a 4-person show at 308 at 156 Project Artspace (156 5th Ave, Ste 308, NY, NY). In May I’ll be in a two-person show at 57 W 57th Arts, curated by Sue Ravitz, bringing my work together with Aaronael DeRoy Gruber. And in September I’ll have a solo show at ODETTA, in Bushwick.

Christopher Stout
In revisiting 2015, I’d like to specifically hail Elise Siegel and Mie Yim at Storefront Ten Eyck, and Alex Paik’s work in “Seeing Sound” at Odetta. I also want to call out “Surface Matters” at the Knockdown Center, showing the recent work of Brett Day Windham, Carolyn Salas, Daria Irincheeva, Katie Bell, and Leah Dixon, and curated by the dynamic powerhouse team of Holly Shen and Samantha Katz. Lastly, I’d like to join the chorus of voices praising Robin Stout and her entrance into the gallery world in Brooklyn.
In 2016, I’m looking forward to many things. Here are a few:
– SPRING/BREAK Art Show during Armory week in March.
– David Wojnarowicz at the Whitney Museum next October.
– Any 2016 projects that involve the work of Thomas Stevenson or Kristof Wickmann.
– Josh Kil’s February game-changing solo show at Christopher Stout Gallery.
Happy New Year!

Patricia Fabricant
Here’s my 2016 so far:
“Thru the Rabbit Hole”, Sideshow Gallery, opens January 9th.
“Up for Debate,” BRIC Arts, opens February 4th.
“Wonderland,” No. 6 Depot, West Stockbridge, MA. Opens Feb. 6th.

Paul Behnke
– “Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet: A Dramatic Reading in Midtown Manhattan”: A reading performed by actors Kathleen Swan and Crag Pomaranz held at a midtown apartment and sponsored by the Sculptors Guild.
– “A View From the Bridge,” by Arthur Miller at the Lyceum Theatre.
– “Georg Baselitz: Drinkers and Orange Eaters,” at Skarstedt Gallery.
– “Joan Miró: Oiseaux Dans L’Espace,” at Nahmad Contemporary.
– “Susannah Phillips: New Work,” at Lori Bookstein Fine Art.
In the coming year, I have a group exhibition coming up that I’m very excited about. Curated by Jeff Frederick, “If Color Could Kill” will open in April at the Salena Art Gallery at Long Island University, and it will travel to the Palmer Art Gallery at Vassar College the following fall. I am also looking forward to taking a journey to London in the spring to view the John Hoyland show, “Power Stations,” at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery. Hoyland is my favorite painter and an early influence whose work is rarely seen in the States.

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Well, along with all the contributors above and everyone at Brooklyn Magazine—and with the allegorical assistance of Pluto and his several satellites, in a sense—I’d like to wish a hearty, happy 2016 to one and all, no matter where the hell you are.



Paul D’Agostino is @postuccio on Instagram and Twitter.



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