Much has been written about the recent mass influx of galleries to Tribeca over the past several years, but what about the art? I’m happy to report that there are a lot of great shows to see in the neighborhood this spring, with some galleries mounting their best shows this year so far.
Below, a look at five of the finest shows on view in the neighborhood.
Madeline Hollander at Bortolami
Up a few flights of stairs, at Bortolmai’s second-floor space, is a light-bathed gallery filled with tender watercolors by Madeline Hollander. These serve as research materials and notations for Hydro Parade, a performance space that will run at the Metropolitan Museum of Art next month. In some, you see the paths she might take through the Met’s architecture; in others, colorful abstract shapes are paired with schematics that trace the underground path of water. But the most thrilling ones are drawings showing vases, teacups, and other vessels with arms and legs poking out of them, along with red lines pointing to how each dancer should move. Add to this that Hollander’s watercolors are made using the natural spring that runs beneath the museum. These works could simply be research notes, but by quite literally incorporating an element of one of the world’s top institutions, they have been transformed into top-notch art objects.
Bortolami, The Upstairs at 39 Walker Street, through June 17.
Azikiwe Mohammed at Canada
Across the street from Canada’s first Tribeca space (at 60 Lispenard Street) is its more recently opened one (61 Lispenard Street), which has been transformed into an immersive installation by artist Azikiwe Mohammed. (The show closes Saturday, but Mohammed will be staging performances this weekend as part of a special project at the 1-54 fair in Harlem.) Titled Leroy’s Luncheon, this funky space now includes couches, a counter topped with three old-school TV monitors showing video works, a bodega with sculptures of vegetables and fish, a vitrine with neon squiggles, a smattering of paintings in a range of styles, copies of his cookbook, and a black-and-white diamond tile floor and green stripe walls. It’s all part of Mohammed’s aim to answer a relatively straightforward but necessary question: “How can an art exhibition give Black and Brown people living in America something they don’t already have, but need?”
Canada, 61 Lispenard Street, through May 20.
Bob Thompson at 52 Walker
Commercial galleries staging museum-quality exhibitions is becoming increasingly common. Rarely, however, are these shows devoted to Black artists, especially ones as important and influential as Bob Thompson, who died at 28 in 1966 and painted only over an eight-year period. Coming on the heels of his traveling retrospective, “This House Is Mine,” which ended its run in January, this Thompson outing contains some works from that show. Titled “So let us all be citizens” and curated by 52 Walker founder Ebony L. Haynes, the show presents several of Thompson’s reconfigurations of classical artworks, with an emphasis on bacchanalia.
All of these paintings are filtered through Thompson’s jarringly vibrant palette in which figures are rendered in reds, oranges, yellows, blues, greens, purples, and more. There’s a wonderful reference to Fragonard’s The Swing (1965), in which a nude marigold woman sways on the titular device; the contrast between the loose, almost impressionistic sky and the flatness of the figures in An Allegory (1964) is divine. But there is something about the barren expanse of the landscape with a group of figures huddled in the bottom right corner under a tree that kept drawing me back to look at Harvest Rest (1964). Maybe it’s the tiny swatch a rainbow that hints at a picnic basket. In Thompson’s work, there’s an indescribable feeling of joy.
52 Walker, 52 Walker Street, through July 8.
Takako Yamaguchi at Ortuzar Projects
Artist Takako Yamaguchi, now in her 70s, is at the top of her game with a new series of seascapes, all dated to 2022. Each of the vertically oriented works here measure 60 x 40 inches, and they all share the exact same horizon line; Yamaguchi’s mastery, however, makes it seem like they don’t. Each scene is uniquely and splendidly its own. In one, a braid of two white clouds cascades from the gray sky to the depths of a deep blue ocean. In another, the clouds are knotted at the canvas’s top, along with a strip of bronze leaf and a deep red sky, as waves gently oscillate below. In a third, two geysers jump out of a clear blue lake filled with rocks toward a deep purple sky. They arise from waves that look like little pieces of folded paper. This is pure aesthetic pleasure at its finest, although it’s work that’s also got a lot on its mind about the tension between abstraction and figuration, as filtered through Japanese craft traditions and the Transcendental Painting Group.
Ortuzar Projects, 9 White Street, through June 17.
Solange Pessoa at Mendes Wood DM
Upon entering Solange Pessoa’s solo show at Mendes Wood, you’re immediately drawn toward the space’s large back room. In it are fresco paintings and sculptures resembling mounds of clay. All share the same burnt-orange, earthy color palette. Pessoa’s practice has long concerned itself with her native Minas Gerais, in southeastern Brazil, and the land. There’s a complex interplay between her as an artist and the earth as a collaborator that shapes these works. That tension is present in the finished objects, whose weighty, monumental forms are awe-inspiring.
Mendes Wood DM, 47 Walker Street, through June 17.
For those in search for more explosions of color, be sure to stop by James Cohan’s solo show for Federico Herrero (upstairs at its 52 Walker space, through June 17). Chart Gallery has a wonderful pairing of two solo shows for Karin Davie, whose paintings recall the inside of intestines, and Esther Ruiz, who makes neat futuristic sculptures. Kapp Kapp has an intriguing painting show by Alex Foxton, whose works respond to Stanley Stellar’s photography of the New York Piers. Further afield, Charles Moffett has opened a new space, just upstairs from his current one, with solos for Kim Dacres and Alec Egan.