M. David & Co. ,Cosmic Veggies, El Sótano, C&M Creative
M. David & Co.
So certainly sonorous that it’s surely a song is the duet of solo shows by Len Bellinger and Denise Sfraga that didn’t just open, but robustly, vividly, gregariously and, in part, also florally burst into being at M. David & Co. a couple of weeks ago. The energy and dynamism of the works in both exhibits is readily infectious, such that the reception itself assumed the same airs. That might’ve even been what catalyzed some of the springtime climes we’ve felt of late. And if so, great. Let’s see more, please.
But the really great things, and the things you’ll really want to see much more of are these seasoned artists’ works. In the main gallery, Bellinger’s large paintings, bangers one and all, sustain tall and expansive walls individually, and with a hefty weightiness that’s also somehow airy. It might be in how their patent material enormity is somehow leavened by their radiant palettes and general strangeness. They scan like the icing-bedecked sheets of a wackily huge, multi-storied wedding cake for otherworldly giants as imagined by Dr. Seuss, and they are hard to stop looking at.
Bellinger’s other works, a handful of smaller paintings and a couple dozen small drawings (figurines and sprinkles for that crazy cake?) lined up in long rows along a large wall, are surely less behemoth, yet very similarly bold and bizarre. The visual sound of the large room, Len’s explosive lair, is BOOM.
Booming more quietly in a kind of gurgling acoustic counterpoint, yet chromatically radiant and boldly banging all the same are Sfraga’s super sweetly saturated blossoms in the project space. Hinterdropped by bespoke wall paint whose color name must be something like Wildberry Rumcustard or Bing Plum Butterbooze, the artist’s variably sized mixed media works — some more drawings than paintings, some vice versa — depict metacolorful floral concoctions that linger right between endearingly weird and dreamily ominous, and their warmly lit and chromatically drenched setting coheres as an installation that’s maybe embracing you, maybe closing in on you, and you’re not sure if you care which. Why leave when the rumcustard is going down so well with the butterbooze, right? Indulge, not unlike Sfraga herself does in her flowery musings in pastels and pencils and paints, oh my.
Individually lush and strange in many ways, sure, but taken together, the two shows might be likened to someone’s imaginative renderings of the hypothesized trappings of some beautiful exoplanet’s biological bounty — and if something as such is the case, then the shows also sing their own soundscape. It’s one that boom-gurgles and gurgle-booms, and the visual landscapes from which the sounds emanate noodle around in your other senses as well. Hence all the talk of rainbow-iced permafrosting paradise and bourbon-buttercup honeystew, as it were.
Yes, there’s almost something of a taste element, too. So see shows, savor flavors, rub belly, burp with delight.
Cosmic Veggieis the name of something of an occasional art and DIY event space located on McKibbin Street. From what I gather, while it’s usually an artist’s home and studio, it’s also a spot to catch art shows, dj sets, readings, performances and, of particular note here, film screenings. From what I gathered at a recent evening of the latter, it’s a space that lives up to its clearly very normal name pretty well.
So, maybe you want a description of that evening’s vibe, films, setting. I’ll go with this: Imagine a hologram of a rainbow-filled lava lamp engaged in partially anthropomorphized, self-indulgently erotic dance – because it’s on ecstasy, of course, and still jet-lagged after returning from a drug run to Jupiter – being questionably ogled at by a dozen green llamas, vaping profusely while bathing in pink egg salad. Know what I mean?
If not, here’s perhaps a more useful description: A fun and ultimately fully pup-approved evening of screenings of diversely bizarro short films exploring the good and the bad of Gothamism and Gothamalia, at times via Spider-Man and Pseudo-Spidey, and tackling notions of the aspirations of wayward youths plotting their futures and futurisms in graveyards and subway stations, at times with the wise counsel of a poolside prophet. It’s also true that one brief video involved primarily a collaborative smearing of smashed eggs on the floor. A highlight for sure.
On view through May 19th at El Sótano, located in the depths of Bushwick near the corner of Wilson and Menahan, is “/noun./verb./adjective/”, a smart, sociopolitically relevant and sensitive group show pertaining to the range of cultural awarenesses, or lack thereof, of issues related to language and communication – even where the former might be ostensibly absent, and where the latter is abused, broken, blurred, dashed, blocked, missed, mistaken.
It features artworks in a variety of media by George Lorio, Deepa Mahajan, Britni Chehayeb, Liam Herne, Camila Linaweaver, Robert Ladislas Derr, Chris Revelle, Nirvana Santos, and collaborative duo Jess Bass and Karolina Manko.
See the show while it’s up, and since I think this is another of several open-call-type shows the curators at El Sótano have organized, you might want to follow them if you’re interested in such opportunities down the line.
I say often enough that basement spaces are among my very favorite kinds of art and event spaces in NYC or anywhere else. I reiterated this recently after checking out a new addition to the tradition of such spaces in Bushwick: C&M Creative, over on Dekalb between Wilson and Knickerbocker, and not far at all from some other Bushwick basement spaces, such as Orgy Park and, noted above, El Sótano.
When I stopped by C&M I found a fun, quirky kind of circumstantially quasi-collaborative installation of sounds, scents, lights, lab tubes, wires, pigments, curtains, speakers and several screens. It’s a show called “I Might Fit In?”, featuring works by young trio Hsin-Hwa Tai, Tai-Yi Lin and Aggie Tai, and curated by Aggie, and it looks and feels a bit like a hookah lounge atop a cloud that provides a decent view of auroras. A fine achievement for a basement space, even if that’s not really what was intended.
There were also cupcakes and bottles of soda pop that I thought were part of the show. I was wrong about that, but it led to more stuff to chat about when I spoke with Aggie about the show and space, which is apparently also the home studio of sound designer Chiehping Chen. These kids have the right idea and energy, so maybe stop by, see if they’re into collaborating, etc. They said they might extend their show for a while. If so, the cupcakes are real and up for grabs.
Paul D’Agostino’s Nota Bene with @postuccio posts are modified versions of capsule reviews and other art notes he posts on Instagram. You can follow him @postuccio.
All photos by Paul D’Agostino
Paul D’Agostino, Ph.D. is an artist, writer, translator and curator based in Brooklyn, New York. More information about him is available here, and you can find him as @postuccio on Instagram and Twitter.