The new show at Verve Gallery of Photography is billed as a “three-person exhibition of documentary photography.” By my count, there are three persons and there is photography. I must be missing the documentary part.
The Susan Rothenberg retrospective, Moving in Place, meets the criterion for museum show titles: It is vague and paradoxical in a way that hints at profundity. But it does a pretty good job of locking in on an essential component of the artist's work—namely, the depiction of motion in a still medium.
222 Shelby, the smallish house, converted to a three-room gallery, is handsome, right down to the rug that sits at the foot of the desk. But don’t be fooled by the cozy atmosphere—Tom Tavelli, the gallery director, is every bit as intellectual as a museum curator and, if you’re not careful, you could end up in a lengthy debate with him.
Since becoming SFR's art critic I’ve seen almost 150 shows, drank 4,000 plastic cups of chardonnay and written 20 reviews covering 23 different venues. In the fading sunlight of the calendar year, I began flipping through my official Critic’s Notebook (99 cents, Walgreens) to reflect on these past five months.
Christmas is a weird time to go to art galleries. On the one hand, there are spaces that continue with regularly scheduled programs and risk seeming indifferent to Santa’s birthday. And then there are the galleries that attempt to capitalize on the spirit of the season and the extra foot traffic by hosting a holiday-themed show—ugh. There is already a year-round, holiday-themed exhibition. It’s called the mall.
Mountains and oceans are favorite subjects in the arts. As far as I can tell, this is solely because they are really, really big. Unless you are an astronaut, mountains and oceans are the largest things on which you will ever lay eyes. So I found it strange that Bernd Haussmann’s paintings of mountains and oceans are not only small, but also devoid of discernible labor.