An Artful Afternoon

By Jennifer Merz
April 23rd, 2015

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining an Artful Circle Tour ( for a trip to some blue-chip 57th Street galleries in Manhattan.  I was the invited guest of Debbie Wells, with whom I gave my Triangle Factory talk for the Art League of Long Island, and her business partner Franklin Hill Perrell, a very intelligent and distinguished art curator who was as informative as he was entertaining.  It was an afternoon of Artful fun, and now you are invited to come on this armchair tour with me!

We started off at the Bernarducci Meisel Gallery at 37 W 57th, where Franklin discussed the intriguing photorealism of the resort paintings of Jack Mendenhall, as well as the Mapplethorpe-inspired photographs of Marcus Leatherdale.  Moving along to the Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery, Franklin introduced our group to the concept of gallery exclusivity vs. secondary proprietorship, as in the cases of a work by Warhol or Lichtenstein.  In other words, Warhol’s estate does not work exclusively through any one gallery, whereas many artists are represented only by one house.  Gallery representation is something I have never studied, and I found all this to be really interesting!

We explored the architectural-like geometric paintings of Lloyd Martin next door at Stux + Haller, followed up by Tadasky’s Op Art circular works at D. Wigmore.  These images, begun during the 1960s, reminded me of my high school art days when we all hopped on the bandwagon trying to create visually arresting optical effects.

Next, we made our way to Tibor de Nagy on Fifth Ave.  I particularly enjoyed seeing Jane Freilicher’s work there, having been to her retrospective at the same gallery a couple of years ago.  Ms. Freilicher has now passed away, but I remember her slight figure standing by the wall during that previous show, and she seemed oddly present at the gallery yesterday, too.  I think I have an affinity for her work having studied it in conjunction with Fairfield Porter’s wonderfully autobiographical paintings of Maine.  The two often worked together and were great friends.

Also at the Tibor de Nagy, we were treated to Shirley Jaffe’s incredible abstract paintings.  I found her images to be captivating, reminding me of a new and different take on Matisse’s Jazz cut-outs.  They were graphic, colorful, well-designed, beautiful images that seemed to dance on the surface of the canvas.

Last but not least, we took in Caitlin Keogh’s large-scale, graphically-inspired paintings at Mary Boone.  Keogh’s work, with its feminist bent and illustrative quality, are reminiscent of Barbara Nessim’s drawings, full of surrealist shapes, forms, and symbols.

The afternoon of fun concluded with a coffee and a sweet in the downstairs Food Court of the Plaza.  What better way to top off an Artful Afternoon?


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