A Holiday You Can’t Really Escape

Christmas in July curated by Simon Castets at Yvon Lambert Gallery is one of the stand out summer group shows. It opens “with a bang” literally as a favorite artist of mine Roman Signer presents one of his “action sculptures” Zimmer mit Weihnachts Christmas Tree (Room with Christmas Tree) (2010). A decorated tree spins on a motor that causes its ornaments to fly off and smash against the walls. LOL! But seriously as Castets explains in Interview Magazine, “it seemed to convey the conflicting feelings a lot of us have about Christmas, which is ubiquitous. It’s a holiday that you can’t really escape in our world—even if you don’t celebrate it.”

Castets mines this loaded holiday and follow-up summer season marketing ploy to great effect in his smart and thoughtful exhibition. But to my great pleasure, Castets even more importantly brings together a fantastic group of artworks that I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with.

There are familiar and always engaging works from art world legends including Lynda Benglis who’s represented by one of her classic and yummy polyurethane foam floor pieces Night Sherbet A (1968) as well as some surprises, for example John Baldessari’s video Ted’s Christmas Card (1974). From players well known in the art world, the works range from poetic to pathetic (in a good way) as you’ll see in Marepe’s Untitled (2002), a delightful sculpture made of plastic Christmas ornaments and Christian Holstad’s Mandala (my mother loves Christmas) (2010), a yellow carpet complete with tinsel, Christmas lights, candy cane residue, and pubic hair. Douglas Gordon in Bad Faith (1994) bet his entire exhibition budget on whether it would snow in Stuttgart on December 25th, 1994. It’s a conceptual cliffhanger and you have to see the straight-forward documentary videos of the weather to see if the people of Stuttgart won with snow on Christmas and a Gordon exhibition funded with a much larger budget or lost double with no snow and no show!

It is always exciting to discover new artists and Castets highlights some very talented newbies. Make sure to check out:

Sarah Ortmeyer’s O Tannenbaum (2008) who’s wooden tree is a national treasure on loan from the Haus der Geschichte, the historical museum in Bonn, Germany. The accompanying photographs provide a clue that the tree was made by soldiers, specifically German soldiers in Somalia in 1993 (on their first overseas mission since WWII). Take note of the view where the spotlight light tinges the edges of the tree in red. See another work by Ortmeyer dealing with history this time in a more playful yet still thought-provoking manner across the street at 303 Gallery.

Nick van Woert’s Everything Must Glow (2009) is a stunningly beautiful decaying plaster and metal sculpture that is matched by the delicacy and lyricism in his other sculpture Wheat Thin (2008) featuring a golden crumpled emergency blanket. Alex Da Corte’s Loved Despite of Great Faults (2008) offers a tender and moving Christmas tree duo and his Soda Painting No.4 (Dew/Wave) (2010) leads the way in the new materials of abstract painting including Vaseline, soda pop, and pine oil.

Don’t miss the chance to participate in the Christmas tradition of gift giving with a twist! Jonathan Horowitz sets up FREE STORE Christmas in July (2010) in the gallery and invites visitors to bring any belongings they would like to give away. They can also take away any of the goods they like. Ahh, the true spirit of Christmas!

For more info about the exhibition, see an interview with Castets on The Huffington Post as well as the website Castets set up for the exhibition: http://www.xmasinjuly.org/#.

Christmas in July
Yvon Lambert Gallery
– 550 West 21st Street
until July 30, 2010

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