Saturday, March 6, 2010


I am casting one last line into the fray here to say THANK YOU to those who have followed me loyally/attentively/blindly/accidentally in this forum. It has been a pleasure writing for you. More importantly, I want to draw your discerning eyes to a new blog, whose subject and substance is the upcoming exhibition ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.

The outstanding summary below was written by my new project assistant, Sarah Humphrey. She has summed up my feelings exactly about Escape From New York. I hope you will join us at the new site:


I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that our manifest destiny on this continent has long since been fulfilled; the railroads have been built, and the shores of the Pacific Ocean from Malibu to La Jolla have been peppered with the condominiums and bronzed progeny of the Western pioneers. You’ve seen the sublime American landscape of Fredric Edwin Church and Thomas Moran, from Niagara Falls to the Chasm of the Colorado, and you’re pretty sure the terrain has been stomped conclusively into submission under the incessantly pounding feet of Dancing with the Stars. As the natural synecdoche of the rest of the nation, this also applies to New York. You know this because your once-charming pied-à-terre in Bushwick is now a J.Crew, and you’ve heard that there will soon be subway service to alphabet city.

And though perhaps you have never been, you assume things are pretty much the same in New Jersey. Empire has run its course, so to speak, so you might as well just stay east of the Hudson and suffer the congested homogeneity of a Thursday evening in Chelsea.

The exhibition ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK offers both a literal and theoretical alternative to the threat of absolute homeostasis in the artistic biology of the five boroughs. It proposes that the answer lies in moving Westward, into the historic landmarks and wide open spaces of Paterson, New Jersey, and other cities like it. It presents the work of more than 30 contemporary artists in the sprawling space of what was once a silk factory. It seeks to transform the Western fringes of New York City from a locus of exile to a haven of exodus, and to expose the artificiality of the Hudson river border.

Follow this link for previews of the participating artists, curatorial musings, and the show’s vital stats:

-Sarah Humphrey

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Matthew Barney post up

For those still frequenting this old URL, click below for my Matthew Barney spotlight.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The beginning of the end of Oly's Musings Part 1

Hi, everyone.

Over the next week or so I'll be making some big changes. First of all, I'm going to now be posting directly to

The address of will become an archive, but all posts will still be accessible. I feel that it's time I need to take my writing a bit more seriously, and though Perez Hilton might have found fame with a goofy blogger name, I most certainly will not.

My blog's title will remain the same, because it's my nickname, and that's what I do-- "muse" on things-- But you should know that my real name is Olympia Lambert. I am an independent art reviewer in living in Brooklyn, and working in Chelsea in the art world. I'm very proud of the reviews I've written-- all while hopefully maintaining a sense of humor and directness not in the usual realm of things. It probably will be a long time before I take Jerry Saltz's job away, but I'm working on it.

In the meantime, I thank you for your continued readership.

Next week marks the return of the biggest week in the NY art scene. I will be covering as many fairs as possible, just as last year. In the meantime, feel free to check out my latest review at ArtCal's Zine of Amy Vogel at Larissa Goldston. I found it to be one of the more interesting shows to see right now.

Be well!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Whitney Biennial Part I -- Forget the art, what were they wearing?

Truth be told, everyone's already done a blog of some sort on the Whitney Biennial, and most of them focus on the art, as rightly should. Some liked it, some didn't-- such is life. I, as well, liked some of it; some not so much-- such is life. Anyway, lately I'm finding it more and more difficult to get in my writing time. Getting those precious hours to see exhibits is difficult when you work in a gallery, but there is an added benefit-- being able to go to "opening nights" and the occasional "museum function." So instead of focusing as much on the art of the Whitney in my first post-- which was generally unanimously agreed as being totally bereft of all color other than beige and grey-- let's talk about what the people were wearing, because we all know that's what really matters in the world of art biennials!!

Of course first up there was A.A. Bronson riding in the elevator directly next to me. Little did he know that directly next to him was the girl who had given his recent John Connelly show a negative review. I hunkered down, slouching my shoulders, hiding behind my program. Either way, Bronson's beautiful purple kurta struck me quite dramatically in the sea of non-color. To say nothing of those glasses of his. Quite funky. And sure enough, down the stairwell was dealer Tony Shafrazi adorned in a dramatic purple tie with that shocking piece of white hair of his. I found it funny that I go to the ArtForum Diary, and sure enough, there he was right next to Bronson. Literally in the order I encountered him.

(Jeffrey "I'm pretty darn adorably cute and not really an ice cream cone" Deitch
care of New York Magazine, photo by Patrick McMullan)

In fact, purple was the color of the evening. Lots of dresses and boots, and platform stillettos in the hue. But leave it to Jeffrey Deitch as always to have the best suit and tie combo. Purple and white stripes. Glasses as always impeccable. True, he is NOT shaped like an ice cream cone, as Deitch's website so deceptively portrays. Could it be that they have taken artistic license with his persona? Perhaps. I did not ask him what his favorite flavor was, and instead, smiled at my slight pace behind the legend himself. There's something about Deitch that makes me want to hug him. Yes, I find his lil' mug cute, even though I can occassionally art the "trash" he shows. Ahem... cough.. Nestnnnest...nest...dsshhh...snowcone... colon cancer... Cough. Sorry, frog in my throat. Go to for the to-die-for ice cream cone man with music to boot.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun people watching. I enjoyed the scene as photogs blasted away taking pics of Doreen Remen (a member of the Art Production Fund trio of power grrrls) in her "message art" dress, off the shoulders, D.I.Y., very punk, very Vivienne Westwood, very WHAM! "Make it Big!". No, seriously. Where was the "Choose Life" shirts and Andrew Ridgeley? Not sure of the designer it was, but it rocked, as did the general feel of fashion taking over the art. Oh, wait. Did I say that? Oh, that's right. The two are one. Fashion is art. Art is fashion. We have osmosis. Yeah.

Certainly I don't expect these functions to communicate to the masses, because part of the biggest problem with contemporary art today is the fact it speaks only to those within its community. The "man on the street" quotient is completely obliterated. Then the gliterrati sits back and says, "Why don't people support the arts?" Well, maybe because we're putting in sculptures based on the shapes of bird shit, for one, and then calling it Giacometti. Uh... no. But alas, that's another post. Enjoy.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cai Guo-Qiang-- I want to believe these cars won't fall on my head

In short summation-- a show totally worth seeing, if only for the herd of Geo Metros being "bombed" up and over utilizing the Gug's atrium. It's a pretty stunning piece, especially from beneath. When you really look at how a vehicle explodes, the centrifugal forces always start with the motion of the trunk popping up vertically, then doing a somersault in mid-air. Cai Guo-Qiang uses the laws of physics and the structural weight-baring capacity of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture to his own benefit with this brilliant take on the initial impact of a suicide car bombing.

Of course there's commentary here on the "war on terror," but you realize that with the cheaply mass produced "Metro" in use, that this is more than just a war being waged on Islamic fundamentalism, but also a shot to the heart of capitalist worshippers everywhere. We're losing the economic war to the behemoth powerhouse that the People's Republic of China has become. Whether telling of emerging artists, or emerging markets, Qiang's wildly successful when he's working with the sublime.

Truth be told, I found this much more Studio 54 meets Macy's 4th of July, but hey, what do I know.

"Head On," (aka the "piece with 99 lifelike wolves running and leaping in formation up the ramps of the museum, eventually crashing head-first into a plexiglass wall)-- is a tour de force, but I was pretty darn disappointed by the guys up close. I had expected these fierce creatures who'd rip me apart shred by shred; instead, what I got was a bunch of natty-looking stuffed animals that you'd see some kid throwing a fit over inside F.A.O. Schwartz. Their faces looked almost lovable at some points, and their eyes reminded me of a teddy bear's. Except for the gummy mouths gaped open in mid howl/growl there wasn't much ferocity behind them. After all, the piece isn't necessarily about nature and man, but more on man's #1 quality of being more lemming than lemmings. "Learn from your ancestors," Qiang seems to cry. Unfortunately, no one listens. Oly herself randomly smiled and walked under the wolves admiring their anatomically correct parts.

Now I must say that I'm digging that the Guggenheim is making great strides in showing the contemporary artists of today, but honestly, I felt that the show drags a bit-- especially towards the top levels.

The gunpowder "drawings" are beautiful creations, but they don't seem to work in the very architecture of the Guggenheim itself. The ceilings seem to cramp their style. I felt that they need a much more monumental wall to hang from-- here, they felt almost secondary to the randomly placed video screenings throughout the show. Either way, you've got to enjoy the sheer pyrotechnic power of Qiang's work. But honestly, I'm more into the work of another artist who specializes in explosions-- Ms. Rosemarie Fiore.

Maybe it's that side of me that craves "color" and all that jazzmatazz, but the sepia tonalities made me sink into a deep visual depression. It seemed as if I was trapped in a Buddhist temple with no way out.

Also of note besides the exhibit itself was the relaunching of the newly refurbished exterior of the Guggenheim. They really did right to do the much-needed repairs, and the facade is just immaculate right now. It felt almost like going back in time to its heyday.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


(cool image of pinkeye fishes by lightsight on Flickr)

Maybe it's from hanging out with too many donkeys in Vermont, but I have pink eye.

How on earth does one GET pink eye, anyway?
On "South Park" it turned people into flesh-eating zombies.

I also have adenovirus.

It's amazing, but I also have laryngitis right now as well!!

By all accounts, this art blogger should be dead.

But I still live... unlike poor Kenny.

But I shall return... hopefully, seriously, next week, when the pink eye goes away and I feel good enough to actually write again.

In the meantime, keep reaching for the stars, and Elmore and Garfield say a big hello from their barnyard.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dust you are and unto dust you shall return...

"As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"
"Do you see all these great buildings," replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
From Mark 13:5

Just as Jesus predicted, "All things must pass."
(*Or was that George Harrison?)
And so, too, have the Gothic churches of Poland, as exquisitely showcased in the creations of artist Joanna M. Wezyk, opening this Friday at Tina Kim Gallery. Wezyk's work takes a heart-wrenching look into these monolithic structures and the system they once supported that seemed forever ingrained in a culture so steeped in faith. But before I get into the inner frameworks of Wezyk's works and the structures themselves, let's take a look at the stage they are set on.

In January of 2007, the Archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw W. Wielgus, admitted to previous collaborations with the Polish Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (s.b., or "secret police"). "Collaborations" is a multi-layered word here in this instance. For in the days of the "s.b.," this could mean anything from a briefing on what the Sunday collection was, to who might have been a supporter of the Solidarity movement. In the case of one outspoken priest's support of Solidarnosc, Jerzy Popieluszko, he was murdered in 1984. One can only imagine the level of influence to which clandestine informants helped in his demise. It's been estimated that nearly 15% of all Catholic priests in Poland during this period had some dealings with the s.b. Shortly after this revelation, Wielgus resigned in a flurry of controversy, shaking parishioners to their core. Here was a man elevated to a prodigious position of power in the nation's most populous city, and now, with the end of the John Paul II era, the church must reevaluate its own leadership and the roles they've played in the former Eastern Bloc.

Along with the ever present role that scandals have played in the breakdown of the Roman Catholic Church-- in the U.S. as well as abroad-- there are certainly other factors at work here, and first and foremost is the European Union's rapid escalation as a dominant economic powerhouse, and the secular overhaul of society at large. The church's influence on society has seen a rapid decline across Europe. Mass attendance is lower than 30% in many formerly predominant Catholic nations. Poland in particular, the very homeland of Karol Jozef Wojtyla himself, has yet to see the level of empty pews that have vanquished parishes with a rapidity not unlike the plague in the rest of Europe, but this is changing. A crisis of faith, lack of funds, and erosion of confidence is at play here as the once magnificent cathedrals sit in disrepair, awaiting a preservation that is more patchwork that total overhaul. In the case of Wielgus, here was an instance-- though long suspected-- that the very institution that helped to foster and form the gel of the Solidarity movement had in its own ranks those who assisted (though possibly inadevertantly) in the crackdown of pro-Democracy forces. And when the leadership which has long been held dear in the hearts of many Poles starts to crack, so too, do the walls of the institutions that house them.

("Earthquake in Assisi," above)

Today is Thursday, February 7th. The ranks of the faithful in Poland are awakening to the morning after their most attended holy day, Ash Wednesday. I almost have to wonder how the halls of these churches must sound with the faithful singing en masse. So many centuries of turmoil, of death, of pain; a culture torn assunder by war, genocide and political upheaval. Each of the above plays an important role in the works on display.

And so, now, the stage is set. Hopefully, readers, you're still with me. On Friday, one of the most beautifully and emotionally painted exhibits to hit the New York art world will open in Chelsea. Joanna Wezyk, a native of Krakow, absorbs all of the above mentioned elements into her paintings and more.

I recently met her at SVA's MFA open studios. But since I had already spotlighted two of her fellow classmates (Nicholas Fraser and Sarah Ferguson), I didn't want to necessarily rush into another review too soon. There's something about becoming the "go-to" blogger that can be a little risky, but I've decided that I love her work and I'd like to tell you so. And when have I ever not taken risks?

There's so much history evoked in each of her pieces. During Poland's darkest days-- and yes, where do we even begin-- the church served as a place of refuge, of safety and of neutrality. But as time goes by, as was the case of the previously mentioned Archbishop, we see not only a move towards the secular, but also a different value system taking hold-- that of the Western World and the new "almighty," currency. Given its chokehold on worshippers across the planet, suddenly these Gothic Cathedrals-- architectural marvels, hallowed halls filled with the spirits of millions of worshippers whose stories in many cases will forever be untold-- have begun their descent into disrepair, disuse, and ultimately demise.

(Detail of "Red Cherry Picker" below)

The stories to tell are numerous-- a caved-in ceiling; peeling plaster; the juxtaposition of an altarpiece next to yellow construction tape; a boom lift sitting prostrate in front of the crucifix. There's so much sadness in each of these works. The high gloss of the oil paint itself gives rise to a feeling of blurred reality. The house of the one without original sin is now being sinned against. I think back to my own feelings of sadness at encountering the wreckage of the First Roumanian-American Synogogue on Rivington Street a few years ago. My eyes immediately focused on the carnage that lay before me-- two shattered stained glass Stars of David lie next to a bulldozer, bricks lay all around-- awaiting their final resting place. Wezyk's role as artist here is so important, because not only is she making a huge contribution to the art world at large, but also serving as a documentarian of history. Because of her own experiences as a Pole, she's bringing herself and her own experiences into the work-- not an easy task in today's shock value laden world of art stars. This takes great courage and great thought.

Seriously, check out her show.

You'll be saddened, amazed, sentimental, and hopeful all at the same time.
Beautiful work from a multi-talented artist.

For more information, please go to:

or check out Wezyk's website at:


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Great deal on some PRIME real estate

Dia Chelsea, anyone?

Jorge Pardo deinstallation fees not included.

Mega broker Brown Harris Stevens gets the goods.

Any guesses on the price range?

Yeah, I know I write an art, not food review, blog, but...

...I can't help it.

Art needs a break every once in a while for that other pasttime of mine-- EATING!

So I'm giving my readers two restaurant recommendations.

1. X.O. Cafe & Grill, long a favorite of mine in Chinatown on Walker Street.

This evening I probably had the most outstanding dumplings yet from their fantastic menu.

There's nothing... I repeat, nothing fresher, more crunchy, more succulent, and scrumptious than the snow pea leaf dumpling on their Dim Sum list.
(pic of actual X.O. dumpling by Roboppy on Flickr)

I mean, look at that thing!

It has (at least I think it has) snow pea leaves, water chestnuts, black mushrooms?? and possibly garlic) stuffed so neatly inside.

It comes with this excellent, thick and sweet dipping soy sauce.

I add the hot chili oil to it, and it just brings me to tears.

So good it melts in your mouth.

Besides their dim sum, they're quite known for their hot pots (sizzling beef and veggies on your table) as well as the pretty ridonkulous fake tree in the middle of the joint.


And... and... if that's not enough, take a look at my other favorite dum'lin'... the crystal shrimp dumpling.

The shrimps are meaty, sweet, pink, and so delicious.

I love the litle orange roe on top, not unlike Christo and Jean Claude's perfect shade of orange.

The Gates, anyone?

In fact, I believe these are works of art.


(photo again credited to Roboppy on Flickr)

And I finished it off with my usual Taro Root bubble tea.

X.O. is located on 96 Walker Street by Lafayette Street.

It's right around the corner from the Canal Street subway station.

And second, I had my first ever Sri Lankan food the other day.

The Nirvana Cafe in Gramercy exceeded my expectations.

(a look into the spice influences of Sri Lanka-- image from Byflickr on Flickr)

I thought Sri food would be very similar to Indian.

Yeah, sorta, except imagine your spicy quotient upped to heights never before seen, and sauces that are never liquidy, but thick and rich.

I had a quite chunky mint chutney that was truly from the gods.

This sat atop my order of vadai, 4 crisp lentil patties fried to a crisp perfection.
So delicate, and yet so meaty.

There's much more influences in their food than I expected-- French certainly being one of them.

As for the spices, my mouth was on FIRE the entire night, and I just wanted more and more.

I was tempted to get the hoppers, (crispy, curved crepes, one with egg in center, served with a chili relish katta sambol and a curry*), but I knew if I ate more than the 5 pounds of food I had received so far, I might explode.
(check out this recipe for do-it-yourself hoppers-- Warning, bad joke alert, this is not to be confused with Edward Hopper)

Some interesting vegetable sides came with my order of chicken curry (Five Alarm hotness)-- softened green beans in a sweet, yet spicy chili paste; chilled collard greens with minced scallions, shallots and garlic,with shredded coconut; and piping hot sweet potatoes in a delicious peanut sauce.

Nirvana Cafe is located at 213 3rd Avenue at 19th Street near Gramercy Park.

Since most of us don't have keys to that silly park anyway, why not scarf down some good eatin's instead!

Check out their website.

You can also use this nice menu from MenuPages as well.