Venison Picks: Best of 2017

Amber Imrie-Situnayake’s Picks

I was fortunate enough to travel out to New York last weekend for three days! I took this time to indulge in a much needed art-cation, I went from galleries to museums, and returned home with a stack of new books and even some small works of art! Since this trip was so recent, my show recommendations are coming to you via New York!


“Ruby Rumié’s work includes painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation. She develops projects based on injustice and psychology, and the impact of modern life in the daily lives of common people. Rumié focuses her research on the locals of Getsemaní, a historical neighborhood of Cartagena de Indias, where she lives. Getsemaní is where she finds her conceptual material, analyzing the impact of gentrification and progress, and suggesting a new role for the artist: that in which there is not only an aesthetic and poetic revelation, but also a search of how to manage social and psychological problems through creation. ​” – Show Statement Excerpt

Ruby Rumié was born in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia in 1958. She lives and works between Cartagena and Santiago, Chile.

Nina Chanel Abney at Jack Shainman Gallery

“Combining representation and abstraction, Nina Chanel Abney’s paintings capture the frenetic pace of contemporary culture. Broaching subjects as diverse as race, celebrity, religion, politics, sex, and art history, her works  eschew linear storytelling in lieu of disjointed narratives. The effect is information overload, balanced with a kind of spontaneous order, where time and space are compressed and identity is interchangeable. Her distinctively bold style harnesses the flux and simultaneity that has come to define life in the 21st century.” – Show Statement Excerpt

Daniel John Gadd: Faconry at David & Schweitzer Contemporary

“Falconry (the hunting of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey) is the title of 31-year-old Daniel John Gadd’s second one-person exhibition at DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary. In this body of work Gadd is both the Falcon and Falconer — a metaphor for the painter painting himself. The works endeavor to own and to appreciate the beauty of that which is wild within one’s self — learning to live with and mitigate the danger within. The work in this exhibition clearly places him among the most powerful, innovative and important abstraction artists working today.” – Show Statement Excerpt

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung: Learning Artist at Rachel Uffner

What does the curve have to do with form? Isn’t the curve a line? It’s not exactly a form…

I’m still trying to understand the Formal, I get tangled between Formalism, Formality, and the Formless. It might be odd, the use of this shape as a form, it throws me for a curve. For example a figure of speech that re-routes you, the curve is never the thing, it is always the implication: the detour, the bulge, the mountain, the metaphor. Maybe they are opportunities for digression around historical formalist approaches. I’m trying to move from the spatial (the grid) to the temporal (the curve or meander). The show is full of de- sublimations.

It’s like being in the middle of something, a conversation, event, or crisis. The problem with narratives is that they imply a beginning, a middle and end. I’m try to denarrativize—to stay stuck in the middle of the muddle. Can I keep my composure (make a composition) can I stay calm here?

The work is very colorful. Do you want to address this?
I will just say that color is not something that exists apart from structure; color is also structural.  We exist inside of affect and mood just as much as we exist inside of language.
-Fox Hysen and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung

Danielle Schlunegger’s Picks

Ersatz at Antler Gallery

““Ersatz” is the latest body of work from Portland artist Matt Hall. The artist describes his output by saying it “deals with the intersection of death, memory, loss, and wonder.” Hall uses found objects and ephemera to make his works. This new series focuses on the fragmentation and reassembly of beings such as moles, porcupines and deer.” – Ersatz Statement

Toni Hamel at Talon Gallery

Toni Hamel was born in Italy and lives and works in Oshawa, a suburb of Toronto, Canada. “Toni Hamel describes her work as “an illustrated commentary on human frailties“. Rooted in story-telling, her art practice draws from personal experiences and outward observations to create thematic bodies of work that reflect on and interpret the psychological unease characteristic of our age. ” – Toni’s Statement

Nazish Chunara’s Picks

Friedrich Kunath at Blum & Poe

This dude blew my mind this year. His work is magical. You can read an interview with Kunath here.

Pulped Fictions at Torrance Art Museum

I loved this whimsical group show: Pulped Fictions and did a review on it for the weekly!
Curated by Max Presneill
Libby BlackDOSSHAUSEVOLScott FifeChris GilmourTaro HattoriKiel JohnsonManfred Muller,
Michael StutzChris TallonVincent TomczykDani TullAnn Weber

Natural Selection at Glendale Brand Library and Art Center

Great group show with female abstract artists. “Brand Library & Art Center is pleased to present the artwork of Amabelle Aguiluz, Sarajo FriedenWakana KimuraKarin Lanzoni and Hiroko Yoshimoto in an exhibition that embraces the fluid and instinctive nature of each artists’ practice while honoring the sophistication of their invention.” – Statement from the exhibition

Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement

Also, can I include a book?? Ha! Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement was one hell of a read…in case anyone’s  interested.

​From Muse To Outcast, A Woman Comes Of Age In ‘Widow Basquiat’

“Widow Basquiat is a portrait of two artists. Mallouk is one of them, and here Basquiat is her endlessly enigmatic muse. It’s a harrowing, beautifully told love story about two seekers colliding in a pivotal moment in history, and setting everything, including themselves, on fire.” – NPR

Clare Szydlowski’s Picks:

I was absolutely blown away by these brightly colored, nostalgic, vanitas style paintings by San Francisco based artist Casey Gray. He approaches his work in a way similar to printmaking, building up his images layer by layer using intricately cut stencils and spray paint. It was a joy to view these paintings in person at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco and to see the variety of textures on the surface of the paintings created by a variety of spray paints, including fake rock spray paint! Could anything be more up my alley? If you want to be mesmerized follow his Instagram account : @caseygraysf  where he posts short videos of his elaborate painting process.

Casey Gray at Hashimoto Contemporary

“Hashimoto Contemporary is pleased to present “Double Knotted”, a solo exhibition by Casey Gray. The San Francisco-based artist introduces a new body of work for his first solo appearance at the gallery. Gray’s practice uniquely utilizes spray paint and hand-cut masking techniques to create vibrant still-life compositions. By referencing historical painting tropes, his work comments on the complexity of our contemporary visual experience.” – Press release

Adriana Villagran’s Picks:

This year, I discovered Toyin Ojih Odutola’s work at the Whitney Museum. I’m googly-eyed in love!

Toyin Ojih Odutola at the Whitney Museum

“For her first solo museum exhibition in New York, Toyin Ojih Odutola presents an interconnected series of fictional portraits, chronicling the lives of two aristocratic Nigerian families.

​Ojih Odutola (b. 1985) creates intimate drawings that explore the complexity and malleability of identity. Depicted in her distinctive style of intricate mark-making, her sumptuous compositions reimagine the genre and traditions of portraiture.

Rendered life-size in charcoal, pastel, and pencil, Ojih Odutola’s figures appear enigmatic and mysterious, set against luxurious backdrops of domesticity and leisure. ” – Excerpt of the Whitney show statement

Emilio Villalba at Modern Eden

On a more personal note, I saw Emilio Villalba’s show “I don’t see” at Modern Eden and he was there doing live painting of people’s eyes. It took the same old gallery opening experience and turned into something much more intimate and laid-back. He would chit-chat with you all nonchalant as you were being painted and he gave away his paintings for free (brilliant marketing because now I want to buy more of his work). Also, he’s a local SF artist and super down-to-earth.

NSFW at Spoke Art

The NSFW show at Spoke Art was pretty dope too. Sex positivity for the win! Curated by Dasha Matsuura, an Oakland local.

Roula Siekaly’s Picks:

If you have time to see it, this will be worth your while. I’d go so far as to name it one of the most important exhibitions to open in the last decade.

We Want a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85 at The Brooklyn Museum

“Focusing on the work of black women artists, We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 examines the political, social, cultural, and aesthetic priorities of women of color during the emergence of second-wave feminism.

“The artists represented in the exhibition include Emma Amos, Camille Billops, Kay Brown, Vivian E. Browne, Linda Goode Bryant, Beverly Buchanan, Carole Byard, Elizabeth Catlett, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Ayoka Chenzira, Christine Choy and Susan Robeson, Blondell Cummings, Julie Dash, Pat Davis, Jeff Donaldson, Maren Hassinger, Janet Henry, Virginia Jaramillo, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Lisa Jones, Loïs Mailou Jones, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Carolyn Lawrence, Samella Lewis, Dindga McCannon, Barbara McCullough, Ana Mendieta, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringgold, Alva Rogers, Alison Saar, Betye Saar, Coreen Simpson, Lorna Simpson, Ming Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems.

“We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 is organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and Rujeko Hockley, former Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.” – Excerpts from Show Statement

NSFW: The Female Gaze at The Museum of Sex

The curators spoke with me for Humble Arts Foundation, and I saw it while in NY for the Printed Matter book fair. It is a knock out, and on view until April 2018.

NSFW: Female Gazeco-curated by VICE Media’s Creators, showcases over 25 emerging female artists from various disciplines dedicated to powerful feminine narratives.” – Show Statement Excerpt

When and Where I Enter at Southern Exposure

” Angela Hennessy’s solo exhibition When and where I enter showcases new large-scale sculptural works exploring racialized identity, visibility, and materiality. Hennessy’s textile-based practice often addresses cultural narratives of the body and mortality. These newly commissioned installations of woven, crocheted and braided synthetic and human hair boldly reclaim delicate Victorian-era crafts of mourning ritual, layered with signifiers of race, femininity and sensuality.

“Cooper was a deeply influential early voice of black feminism and an advocate for black women as leaders in African-American and feminist movements of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Both Cooper and Hennessy acknowledge the importance of claiming space as a black woman; Hennessy’s work claims the gallery space with a dramatic weight and liberatory, joyful expansiveness.” – Show Statement Excerpts

The Legacy of Lynching at Brooklyn Art Museum

The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America seeks to spark an honest conversation about the legacy of racial injustice in America today. Coordinated in collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and Google, this exhibition presents EJI’s groundbreaking research into the history of lynchings and connects it to artworks and archival material from the Brooklyn Museum’s collections.

The exhibition also features EJI’s plans to open a national monument in 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama, named The Memorial to Peace and Justice, commemorating victims of racial terror lynching. The memorial will be accompanied by a museum, “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration,” exploring the legacy of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration.

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