Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Jason Coates, Steven Little, Bruce Wilhelm

This is the last week to catch the work of Jason Coates, Steven Little, and Bruce Wilhelm at ADA Gallery.

The show looks really good - all three do similar work and gallery-owner John Pollard has mixed it up so you aren't quite sure if you are looking at a Steven Little or a Bruce Wilhelm unless you look it up on the pricelist. Truth be told, the ones I like the best all turn out to be Wilhelms*.

Bruce's work has a wonderful lightness of humor and touch. He strikes just the right off-hand balance between the not-quite-there Little's and a little-too-much Coates. He's also got a terrific sense of color.

Coates works in the same quirky figurative manner as Little and Wilhelm but his work is easier to identify because it is bigger, more like "painting" than drawing, and generally seems more labored. One of his pieces is called Dinosaur Mountain Bridge - a green triangular canvas of a brontosaurus encircled by an upward spiraling elevated highway. This is hung next to one of Bruce's smallish pieces called I Would Like To See Godzilla Turned Into A Building For People To Live In. Jason's work will be featured in the upcoming Mid-Atlantic edition of New American Paintings so check it out!! Raft is nice - very simple and clean.

This style is enormously popular with young artists and buyers right now. You can see stuff like this at Spector Gallery in Philadelphia, Richard Heller in Santa Monica, or Zach Feuer's gallery in NYC. Does it come from Chris Johanson? I think it really took off after Jerry Saltz's rave review of Jules De Balincourt's first show at LFL. This work is charming and likeable, easy to make and easy to sell. Glib Art. It's easier to name the galleries than name all the artists. It's all over.

I'm starting to sound a little harsh - sorry! I should share that some of my own stuff isn't too far removed from this manner of working either - I'm critiqueing myself a bit as well. I'm glad to see that the newest De Ballincourts seem to be better than the big debut.

*Full Disclosure: I own a Bruce Wilhelm!!


mountain man said...

My personal theory about this kind of work (which I am usually all kinds of magical charmed by) is that it became huge after Amy Sillman. I feel like Chris Johanson must have known her work pretty well in order to do what he does. Some of his drawings remind me so much of her earlier work, when it was more about figures.

Cynthia said...

How did the record bin part of the show turn out? I was actually thinking about sending some stuff. I see by their site that a guy I know from up here, Michael Ferris, has exhibited with them (he did Roswell for a year).

mr home video said...

I started to read your blog and then fell asleep. Why can't anyone write about art like Ebert and Roper talk about movies? There is nothing in you blog that makes me want to see these peoples art, eventhough you are probably doing them a favor. HA HA HA... Good luck in art school.

Till next we meet...

Martin said...

Mountain Man - I prefer Horace Pippin.

Cynthia - The record bin thing is pretty cool - I saw a few sales being made at last month's opening and the couple times I've been back people are always flipping through it. I'm showing with Michael Ferris (and another person next month.

Mr. Home Video - The posting you've left your comment on wasn't exactly a rave. I don't expect you to hop a bus to see a show of stuff you can pretty much see anywhere. The good thing about this style phenomenon locally is that you can get a nice Wilhelm for as little as a few hundred bucks and he's as good as anybody doing the same thing in NYC.

I'm not in art school anymore. I got my BFA in 1990. Thanks though.