Art Worth Seeing on the Lower East Side

The fall gallery season is upon us. We’ve asked artist Walter O’Neill, director of  the Educational Alliance’s Art School, to recommend some openings and exhibits in the neighborhood. Here are some highlights from the new season:

Last week, walking around the neighborhood, you could see gallery directors and staff hanging artwork and touching up the white walls while other galleries had brown paper covering the windows.  As the fall art season opens this week, the art galleries on the Lower East Side offer some of the most diverse and exciting exhibits in New York; from work by octogenarians Knox Martin (Woodward Gallery) and Jonas Mekas (James Fuentes Gallery) to paintings by emerging artists who are just out of art school. The shows will include a wide range of materials and styles –  from installation art to photographs and paintings – almost every current art trend can be viewed within a few blocks.   There is also the usual autumn shuffle of some galleries disappearing, some galleries relocating within the neighborhood and new galleries appearing.  A few galleries are hosting opening receptions on Friday, Sept. 10, and more will open on Sunday, Sept. 12 (or later next week).

Heidi by Robert Yoder, 2010, Collage, 11 x 9 inches

Eva Frosh has partnered with HP Portmann to open Frosh & Portmann Gallery at 53 Stanton Street. Their ‘kick off’  will be a group exhibit of young, exciting painters who have been exhibiting nationally and internationally, including Rafaella Chiara, Julia Kuhl, Iris Schieferstein, Vicki Sher, Hooper Turner and Robert Yoder. Opening Sept. 12, 6-8pm.

Dodge Gallery will open in a newly renovated space at 15 Rivington Street.  Kristen Dodge, a gallerist from Boston, will be making her mark with a group exhibit of painting and sculpture by emerging artists from the Boston area, many of whom will be exhibiting for the first time in New York. Opening Friday, Sept. 10, 6-8pm.

Down the block at 1 Rivington Street, Sue Scott Gallery will present a solo exhibit of work by Kirsi Mikkola, a Finnish artist living in Berlin. Mikkola will present a series of densely compressed abstract constructions made from cut and painted paper. These intense works must be seen in person to be appreciated.  Opening reception is Sunday, Sept. 12, 5-7pm.

Around the corner at 195 Bowery, DCKT Contemporary is presenting a Cordy Ryman exhibit opening on Sunday, Sept. 12, 5-7pm.  Ryman manipulates mundane materials such as sections of wood 2” x 4”, Velcro, staples and other scraps from the studio floor, or materials from previous installations, to create colorful, fun intelligent work.

Mary Ellen, by Knox Martin, 2010, Acrylic on linen, 18 x 22 inches

Woodward Gallery will present recent paintings by Knox Martin.  Knox Martin has been painting since the 1950’s and these new fresh works demonstrate that the artist’s touch only improves with age.  While the artist’s outdoor murals from the 1970’s still grace the walls in the Village and just off the West Side Highway, these easel size paintings are vigorous. Exhibit on view starting Sept. 15, reception for the artist: Sept. 25.

Rental Gallery, which had been on the 6th floor at Allen and East Broadway, has changed its name to “Untitled” and is moving into the new pencil tower that is lined with corten steel at 30 Orchard St.  Opening Sept. 12 with David Adamo, Heather Cook, Brendan Fowler, Rashid Johnson and Phil Wagner.

"Destruction Quartet" by Jonas Mekas in a 2009 show at James Fuentes Gallery

James Fuentes Gallery which had been on St. James Place will be moving to 55 Delancy Street, between Eldridge and Allen, opening on Sept. 24 with an exhibit by Jonas Mekas, “the godfather of avant-garde cinema.”

Opening on Saturday, Sept. 18, 4-6:30pm, Cuchifritos art gallery/ project space in the Essex Street Market will present “A Curious Thread.”  The exhibit of work by young artists just out of MFA programs relates to the neighborhood’s history of craftsmanship and hand-made production. One of the artist’s (Lori Merhige) grandmother grew up on Lower East Side and worked as a seamstress.

Walter O’Neill, an artist who paints in oil and is a master of the traditional technique of true fresco, is the Director of the Educational Alliance Art School.  The Educational Alliance  offers classes for adults and teenagers. Classes in Ceramics, Drawing, Knitting, Painting, Photography and Sculpture.