The Review That Wasn’t
13 October 2010
NY Times Review (Almost)

11″ x 14″, Watercolor and graphite on paper, 2007. Courtesy of the artist.

A few weeks ago my friend Ryan Schneider and I were in Chelsea for the closing of The Big Picture at Priska Juschka. Ryan and Tom Sanford had curated the show of very large paintings from a group of painters who all embrace some aspect of the expressionist tradition. Well, not all. One female artist in the group painted much closer Tom’s comic realism than say, I don’t know, anything else in the show.  (Apologies to Tom and Ryan, I early posted there was only one woman in the show.  Actually, Liz Marcus, Holly Coulis, Emily Lambert, Colleen Asper and Lisa Sanditz had paintings in the show).While I respect Ryan and Tom, our tastes in painting tend to diverge from a shared sense of the absurd and bear little resemblance after that.

Overall, I thought it was an interesting show. When Ryan told me that a New York Times fact checker had called the gallery, the show was all but certain to get a coveted Roberta Smith Friday Times review. Then, a funny and familiar thing happened. The review never ran. Maybe Ryan, Tom, and the gallery shouldn’t have asked for the review to be pushed back into September even if the show would closed during August. I mean, the point of a review isn’t really to drive foot traffic. It’s to legitimize the prices of work and give explicit permission to collectors to drop some cash. Ryan was pretty much crushed, and to add insult to injury, the Times ran that lovely ode to Gagosian and Dan Colen on the front page the day the review never ran.

While, I’m not arguing that the Big Picture show should or should not have gotten a Times review (These guys are my friends), it was at some point in the pipe line for publication. Back in 2007, when I had my first solo show with Schroeder Romero, Holland Cotter dropped by on the last day of the show and while leafing through the press for the show said “I thought we covered this,” as he flipped through the book, clearly not seeing a NY Times review. Now, I have no idea who, if anyone, was actually going to write about the show, but I decided it had to have been Roberta. Why? In a small drawing in the show titled “What Not To Do” one of the directives was “Tell Jerry and Roberta to fuck off.” I like to believe that killed the review, somehow.

To that end, I decided to write the review anyway. I’ve been thinking about this drawing since Ryan was nearly crushed by great expectations, and my friend @artlthr sent me this link to Dave Muller’s drawing “Smith” and “Re-Smith”. It made me feel old, but also vaguely justified in doing this in 2007. Nope, I don’t feel old and apparently Dave Muller was doing his Times review pieces decades ago. Way before I ever thought about it.

Image: Art in Review,
11″ x 14″, Watercolor and graphite on paper, 2007. Courtesy of the artist.

WILLIAM POWHIDA
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