Gallery Goer

by Jade Townsend ©KittyJoeSainte-Marie

Editor’s note: Today we’re  introducing Gallery Goer, a weekly column by Tobi Elkin featuring not-to-be-missed gallery shows on the LES. She’ll highlight noteworthy shows in the burgeoning and highly eclectic neighborhood gallery scene, offering a glimpse into some of the most exciting new art that’s being shown.

Lesley Heller Workspace at 54 Orchard is one of my favorite galleries in the neighborhood. This spacious and airy gallery features two shows—one by a solo artist in the front space—and a second, group show deeper into the gallery. Currently on view as a solo show is “Leviathan” by Jade Townsend, which offers two installations that are bound to provoke conversation and at the very least a “Wow, what was he thinking?”

Installation of Jade Townsend's "Truck" at Lesley Heller Workspace.

Townsend’s dramatic sculptures and installations draw on allegory and myth, leveraging both found and fabricated elements. At the get-go, visitors to the show are met with a foreboding image of a large body sans head. Even more striking, is a large abandoned truck that dead-ends into a video screen projecting images of drifters, rebels and other forlorn figures. Are the decapitated head and past-its-prime truck meant to foretell a dark fate for humankind, or are they merely cultural artifacts, the detritus of living? It’s up to you to decide. Through May 25.

Untitled, (Blue and Brown), Noam Rappaport at James Fuentes.

At James Fuentes, Swedish artist Noam Rappaport presents neat and spare and smartly painted canvasses some featuring large geometric shapes.  The shapes and configurations feel studied without being fussy. The canvasses easily drawn the viewer in, so much so, I wanted to touch them. Rappaport’s work has a textural feel to it, particularly the canvas-wrapped and framed panels in which the artist makes use of objects from previous projects.

In the appealing, Collection #8, the artist organizes diverse objects and materials into a cohesive whole. Rappaport’s Scandinavian aesthetic has all the clean and fresh you could ever want. Simple and lovely. Through June 1.

Collection #8, Noam Rappaport at James Fuentes.

At the spacious and inviting Woodward Gallery, the Japanese-born, Boston-based artist Kenji Nakayama spins an intricate tale using photo-realistic hand-cut multi-layered stencils. In his first solo New York show, Nakayama leverages these stencils along with spray enamel, acrylic and mixed media, to powerful effect. Nakayama’s background as a mechanical engineer is evident here as well as the influence of his move to the U.S. in 2004.

Shuttered Realty (White), Kenji Nakayama at Woodward Gallery.

Nakayama’s paintings tap into graffiti-esque elements—the artist is also an accomplished muralist—and mark his attempts to document the ordinary nature of everyday life.

CSX Rubric, Kenji Nakayama at Woodward Gallery.

The subject matter belies Nakayama’s labor-intensive art-making process–each hand-cut stencil painting can take months to complete. See for yourself, on view through July 7.

Featured gallery picks:

Lesley Heller Workspace/ 54 Orchard Street/ 212.410.6120

Wed.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sun. 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

 James Fuentes/ 55 Delancey St./ 212.577.1201

Wed.-Sun. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Woodward Gallery/ 133 Eldridge Street/ 212.966.3411

Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and by private appointment.

TLD contributor Tobi Elkin is a writer, editor and interviewer and former resident of the Lower East Side who delights in the neighborhood’s eclectic pleasures. A regular reader of The Lo-Down, her diverse interests include arts and entertainment, film, food and cultural critique. Visit her website at tobielkin.com.