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Fancy, Curated by Karen Kimmel
by Stuart Servetar

Bradley Rubenstein, untitled, 1994
Floor, Lucky DeBellevue, my little brain spill, 1996 pipe cleaners Wall, Larry Krone, untitled,1996, nail polish

"Fancy" gently padded the well-trodden path through art, fashion, and fashion art. While not exactly fodder for an emotional boner, the show did provide a good bit of titillation and brought forward a few artists in a provocative tease.

Artists such as Bradley Rubinstein and Larry Krone epitomized the show's aesthetic. Talk softly, ask little. Many artists of late have assumed a strategy of humility, but Krone and Rubinstein seem genuinely humble. For this exhibit, Rubinstein executed a series of loose, for him, portraits in red house paint. His hybrid portraits have always had slightly commercial references, alluding to Sears baby portraits, fashion mags or high school yearbook shots. These works had the air of street caricatures about them.

Krone's work manages to dance on thin wires and not fall off. Charm, slightness and hard-wrought quirkiness in less deft hands might prove annoying. So far, Krone has yet to piss me off. For this show, he presented drawings based on tracings of his fingernail cuttings and colored the color of nail polish. Where Rubinstein's minute endeavors are compressed and disturbing, Krone's are dissipate and louche.

Claude Wampler is at play in the fields of fashionability. She is very taken with critiques of the critique of culture and probably reads very big books before deciding what to do. Sometimes she hits and sometimes she misses. In this context, the usually gratifying Wampler missed. She created three rock personae, their respective outfits and performed songs in the guise of each. Wampler sings better than most alt-rockers, leading the viewer to believe she is more a trained actress than performance artist (definitely not a bad thing). However, her resolute inability to make eye contact, so much an effective tool in other forums, here simply read as avoidance. In this performance, she did not negate, challenge or bask in the viewer's gaze, but merely dodged it.

At the other end of the room, Elisa Jimenez was busy sewing women into what looked like bed sheets. It looked like fun. The assembled women in their various states of undress and redress, carved for themselves a pocket of raw female energy. A very '60s moment in a very '90s milieu. By the next day, all the dresses made had been expertly folded into various shapes and arranged like offerings at the foot of an altar. Very goddess.

Other contributors included Sam Samore and Lucky DeBellevue, and curator Karen Kimmel who gave her own work short shrift by placing a short shift of her own design on the floor of a small niche at the back of the space.

Karen Schaefer's sound project provided not only the show's title but, to some extent, its mantra. In both bathrooms she ran tapes of various people retelling an urban myth which has a soft ending so different from many urban legends. The gentleness of the punch line captured the feel of the show, as if to say, "We are young and we are pretty and even though things are scary, we hope, we hope, if we are really nice, everything will work out fine."

Stuart Servetar

New York, New York

1997

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