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July 02, 2012

New New York Shows from Pace MacGill Gallery and The Still House Group

By Maud Doyle | Art

Yellow Right Turn by Louis Eisner
Louis Eisner, Yellow Right Turn, 2012, Oil on Linen 64 X 62 inches, Courtesy The Still House Group

Of all American myths, it is that which surrounds the land that has enthralled us most through our nation’s young history. A kind of manifest destiny, the inalienable right of all Americans to stake their claim has returned in recent years in the face of a sudden identity crisis with the loss of houses at its heart. Eight photographers’ perspectives on the notion of home and place make up the almost entirely peopleless exhibition “Real Estate” at Pace/MacGill Gallery.

From the glowing, noir-ish L.A. nightscapes of Henry Wessel’s “Nightwalk” series to the exquisitely colored prints of Richard Benson, the show’s dreamlike images capture not just the landscape but also the imagined lives with which this real estate is imbued. “My mother did not love my father,” Duane Michals scrawled beneath a photograph of his childhood home. “She loved another.” Works such as this illustrate how it is the American condition to hold our brightly tinted dreams over the head of a faded reality. “Real Estate” runs through August 22. At 32 E. 57th St.; pacemacgill.com.

The rebellious patriotism of the The Still House Group’s young artists has taken a slightly different form: a pioneering move from the art capital of Manhattan to a Civil War–era industrial building in Red Hook, Brooklyn. But on June 28, they returned to the island with an energetic, self-curated show called “Here Comes” at Mark Fletcher’s project space. “Here comes what?” asks cofounder Isaac Brest. “We wanted to convey our vision of an exhibition as an announcement without a subject [and] without a conclusion.”

Whether or not a conclusion is possible, the refusal to strive for one reveals itself in the show’s heavy use of irony: Cinderblocks balance on their corners, building blocks holding up nothing; a painting of a yellow slide twists to the right too quickly, negating the risk of it spilling into the room. The greatest moment is a pencil made to look like it was thrown into a ceiling, giving the sense that if it was pulled out, the levees would break. “Here Comes” runs through July 27. At 24 Washington Square N.; markfletcher.com.