THE ROAMING GALLERIST : MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS NOT TO MISSby Denise Bibro Fine Art
Judy Chicago: Herstory
10/12/23 – 01/14/24
New York, NY 10002
At the New Museum is the long overdue and most deserved first comprehensive survey of the 20-21st Century feminist artist Judy Chicago. The museum has dedicated four floors of space to encompass and illustrate the girth and breath of her work including painting, sculpture, installation, drawing, textiles, photography, stained glass, needle work, and printmaking.
The strength and influence of Chicago’s work is emphasized and well illustrated by putting it in historical context. Alongside “Judy Chicago: Herstory,” New Museum also presented “City of Ladies,” which is an exhibition within the exhibition. “City of Ladies” comprises artworks, photographs, film, writings of powerful female artists, thinkers, writers, dancers, photographers from across the centuries. Included among them are Simone de Beauvoir, Hildegard of Bingen, Artemisia Gentileschi, Zora Neale Hurston, Frida Kahlo, Hilma af Klint, Virginia Woolf, Louise Nevelson, Martha Graham, etc. All of these creatives impacted Chicago’s art and work of an enormous number of living contemporary artist of all genders, cultures and ethnicities.
Going from the upper floors of this survey, viewing Judy Chicago’s early minimalist works of the 60’s and 70’s makes the best sense. By viewing in this progression one can sense the power and evolution of a woman creative that has a lot of guts, soul, relentless intellect, courage and resolve. Her vocabulary and craft are limitless. She employed any media and excelled on many fronts such as sculpture, painting, drawing, installation, sewing, stained glass. Each finished piece is not an ending and instead seems to present another challenge or discussion. On the lower floors her revolutionary feminist works can be seen as well as her narrative works from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Her most recent works confront concerns about the environment, disasters and perils, creation, masculinity, and morality.
The exhibition deftly conceptualizes her feminist methodology with many art movements. It successfully illustrates the critical and impactful role Chicago has played not only as an artist in her own right, but also as an advocate in claiming space for women artists.
Maria Prymachenko: Glory to Ukraine
7 October 2023 – 7 April 2024
The Ukrainian Museum
222 East 6th Street
New York, NY 10003
212 228 0110
The Ukrainian Museum in the heart of the East Village is a jewel of a museum. Its recent exhibition of one of Ukraine’s most beloved artists, Maria Prymachenko, should be a must see.
I was particularly provoked to see the show not only because of the horrors of the ongoing war Russia brought upon Ukrainian people, but because of my own father who was born in a Polish country village, similar to Prymachenko’s. Many of her works remind me of the stories from those days. The animals, farms, daily chores, and doings of ordinary life. I was happy to see her wonderful depictions of people, her craft work, her garments. What I saw endeared me to think of my own Grandmother. She had little, yet still sent me a handmade skirt and vest to show love for a granddaughter whom she didn’t know, and to share her culture that her son abandoned because of war. I revel in pride that Poland has opened their arms to welcome refugees from their neighboring countries. There is something to learn from this for everyone.
Maria Prymachenko was a born in a peasant family in the village of Bolotnya, Kiev Oblast. She was self-taught and relentless in creating her art. She has been loved for her vividly colorful, decorative, and sensitive perception of reality. Her works primarily depict animal scenes, often with mythological context, village life, and provide social commentary. Her works have been used on Ukrainian currency snd stamps.
This is the first exhibition of the artist’s work outside of Europe. She exhibited in France, Bulgaria, and other Eastern European venues. In France Picasso saw an exhibition of her work and said, “I bow down before the artistic miracle of this brilliant Ukrainian.”
Prymachenko knew war well. She knew and felt loss, having lost family members through war, including her brother. Many of her works were created from these experiences. It is so sadly ironic that due partly to war some of here work is gone, making this exhibition and the work even more relevant.
Although self taught, her work’s strength is in its resilient use of color and simple forms all in their brute force. Its strength is in the truths that it empowers. There is a frankness and immediacy in her work that captures the viewers attention.
When going through this exhibition I thought of an affiliated artist of ours, Ola Rondiak, whose works also often illustrate the social and political issues of Ukraine, particularly in reference to Ukrainian women’s roles in society. Her husband is still staying in the country, even despite the ongoing war. Rondiak’s works of Ukrainian women in traditional garments illustrate the valuable role models that are powerful in her country. I was pleased to see her prints and posters displayed and offered at the museum shop, and supported her by buying a print.
Ola Rondiak, “Unforgivable,” 2022, acrylic and charcoal collage on canvas, 12 x 12 in
I encourage everyone to go to this exhibition and support the museum. The admission is nominal and becoming a member does not cost much more either. It is public and world knowledge that Ukraine is being ravished physically, socially, and financially. Its people, their homes, artifacts, art, and architecture are being destroyed, which further shows the urgent need to support institutions like this and help them preserve and share the wonderful culture of Ukraine.
Clio Art Fair
On one of our walks through Chelsea, we popped into an international curated Clio Art Fair, a fair new to us. It focuses on showcasing independent artists who are not represented by any NYC gallery. It is worth noting, its very existence, as so many other recent satellite and pop up fairs, reflect the challenges, the difficult quirks, curatorial problems, and severe economic concerns that affect all these venues, artists, and the artistic community at large. Nevertheless, such things as the lack of opportunities and the closing of physical galleries continue to inspire the community to seek out alternatives, and broaden horizons, despite the many pitfalls any of these options may have.
It was interesting to notice the organization of this fair echoed some issues we’ve noticed at Art Miami and Art Context. Because of the current economics and all the various costs that come with organizing and participating in such an event, there was some lack of space and possibly the need to compromise the quality of installations in some respect.
Despite the fact that the art fair was perhaps not ideally curated and the quality of features work was uneven, yet it was a joy to see how artists and curators poor their hearts and soul into promoting independent talent. It is vital for us as a community to support the artists and curators as mush as possible.