A few weeks ago I attended an art opening for the painter Mark Greenwold. Mark is the father of my oldest childhood friend and, in my opinion, a tremendously gifted painter. Not just "that's so cool your dad makes paintings and stuff" gifted, either. More like "these should be seen alongside John Currin and, fuck it, Paul Cadmus and David Hockney and any other sorta contemporary figurative painter you might get excited about." His paintings are small—they take him a very long time to complete but, judging by the show, he's working faster than he did when he was a young man—and they're obsessively detailed and difficult to take your eyes off. There's a lot happening on the canvases. A lot that someone with a degree in Art History or Psychology could tell you more about than I can.
The opening was held at the DC Moore Gallery on Fifth Avenue, near Central Park South. That gallery is nowhere near Deitch Projects or any of the white-box modern art joke shops along West 24th and 25th Streets. There was not a line around the block for the opening, teeming with teen and post-teens wearing plastic novelty versions of Mark's eyeglasses, and everyone kept their breasts in their bras, and their bras in their shirts. Cobrasnake didn't make it out for the show. It was not sponsored by a triple-distilled vodka infused with guarana.
If there seems to be a note of anger or bitterness in my tone, it's because I sort of felt it on Mark's behalf. (Although, speaking with Mark at the show, I suspect he feels some of it as well.) It's just so frustrating to see truly great art seen by so few, when everyone lines up for miles to ogle Terry Richardson's disposable camera photos of "strange" with post-coital sweat oiling their necks and naked chests, or Ryan McGinley's out-of-focus pics of his friends hanging brain on their sleeping bag-snuggled buddies, or pissing off warehouse rooftops in the first after-after-party streams of sunlight. At the show, which I really loved for both personal and fairly objective reasons, I couldn't help but be struck by this natural imbalance.
Which makes it that much sweeter that the New York Times crystallized (and better articulated) these very same thoughts in an incredibly positive review of the show. Of course, it stinks that the review is colored by the same feelings of iinjustice, placing Mark in the role of the written-off and overlooked missed opportunity in the art world. (Which he isn't, of course; I think he actually sold a great number of the paintings in his retrospective before this review, and before the show's opening.) It's just nice that a few more people might get to see some pretty powerful work, although I guess it probably won't attract the thousands of people who prefer to attend art shows where the most common comment about the work are "You see that shadow? That's where the photographer was masturbating out of frame," and "oh, snaps--there's Courtney Love!"