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What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries Right Now

What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries Right Now

Want to see new art in New York this weekend? Start in Chelsea with Shikeith’s evocative blown-glass sculptures at Yossi Milo. Then head to the East Village for Walter Pfeiffer’s career-spanning survey at the Swiss Institute. And don’t miss Ebony G. Patterson’s riotously colored collages at Hales New York in SoHo.

east village

Through Aug. 28. Swiss Institute, 38 St. Marks Place, Manhattan; 212-925-2035, swissinstitute.net.

We are in a moment of gender upheaval, with individuals questioning the roles of biology and culture in establishing traditional binaries. However, the drawings, paintings, photographs and videos of the Zurich-based artist Walter Pfeiffer from the 1970s into the 2000s remind us that this is only another moment of inquiry, not the first one. Gender fluidity and performance of all types run through Pfeiffer’s career survey at the Swiss Institute.

Pfeiffer was born in a small Swiss village and moved to Zurich in 1966 to attend the alternative art school F+F (Form und Farbe, or “Shape and Color.”) Many of the works here echo the experiments of that decade — as well as Dada, which originated in Zurich half a century earlier. Diaristic photographs and videos capture people dressing up in costumes and performing for the camera in a manner that echoes artists like Jack Smith, Jonas Mekas and Andy Warhol — but also pop stars like Elvis Presley. When Pfeiffer went back to F+F as a teacher, he recruited students as models for his photographs and his mock music videos.

Pfeiffer’s best and most poignant model, however, was a young man named Carlo Joh. Shape-shifting before the camera, Joh had all the chameleon trappings of an androgynous fashion model or a gender-bending rock star such as Mick Jagger, David Bowie or Marc Bolan. Unfortunately, Joh died of a mysterious illness in the mid-1970s. Like many great art muses, though, he seemed never destined to age. MARTHA SCHWENDENER

TRIBECA

Through June 18. Bortolami, 55 Walker Street, Manhattan; 212-727-2050, bortolamigallery.com.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya returns again to the studio as setting and, partly, subject of his art. Screens and curtains, lights and the necessary stands and clamps to aid with the taking of pictures occupy the space alongside chairs, rugs, cushions, stools and tables. The central subjects are the photographer himself, his camera and — in the work presented here — only one other model. Although “model” seems too anodyne a word for the intimate relationship between photographer and subject captured here.

I found myself thinking of Velázquez’s “Las Meninas,” more so than the history of studio photography that Sepuya also engages. The artist, who is from Los Angeles, puts to beguiling use mirrors and photo prints within the pictures themselves to create a telescopic deepening of space, much like Velázquez does with paint. This happens both within and between the photographs. Look closely and you’ll find “Darkroom Mirror” on a wall within “Daylight Studio Mirror” (both 2021), as just one example.

I thought too of Francis Bacon’s paintings. With Sepuya’s work, they share tightly ordered interiors, spare modern furniture, and the representation of queer desire. Even Bacon’s preferred way of showing his paintings under glass finds an echo in Sepuya’s framed works. But where Bacon depicts lust and animal violence, Sepuya’s photos are tender and assured. Where Bacon’s are twisted and flayed, Sepuya’s are almost classically poised yet also fragmented by mirrors, screens or another body. They reassure: Pleasure and connection are possible, even if you can never fully see a person. JOHN VINCLER

SOHO

Through June 18. Hales New York, 547 West 20th Street, Manhattan; 646-590-0776, halesgallery.com.

Ebony G. Patterson’s work in her show “… to kiss a flower goodbye …” pulls me in varying directions at the same time. For example, the installation piece “… in the lament … there is a nest … a bursting a … nourishing” (2021-2022) contains rivulets of white beads cascading down to the ground, giving into what the poet Jorie Graham describes as “the slack and heaving argument of gravity.” Simultaneously, riotously colored flower stalks sprout upward, a host of plastic Monarch butterflies pervade the air and a python insinuates itself into the underbrush. There is so much happening in Patterson’s night garden that I learn to really see it only by first giving into the abundance, letting the flora and fauna represented by appliqué, fabric, trim, feathers, resin and glitter overwhelm me. It’s a monsoon of colorful embellishment, and I know I’m going to be drenched.

But it’s that relation of opposites that has kept me coming back to Patterson’s work for several years now. In this work, her use of collage is obvious, but there is also décollage, the tearing and cutting and subtracting of visual evidence from the digitally printed photographs and tapestries that form the foundation of these installations. Her gardens are always a confluence of contradiction: restoration and rebirth, but also burial and violence. With the human figures she nestles inside the foliage and ornaments, a hand here and a torso there, Patterson suggests not only that we can still live in this place of incongruous opulence but that we might belong there. SEPH RODNEY

CHELSEA

Through June 25. Yossi Milo Gallery, 245 10th Avenue, Manhattan; 212-414-0370; yossimilo.com.

There are three sculptures in Shikeith’s New York gallery debut, most notably a shoulder-high brown wooden cross, pierced with five peepholes to reveal flickering blue video screens, that gives the show its title, “grace comes violently.” There’s also a glass balloon, a tipped-over glass head and a delicate glass crib surrounded by hanging orbs, all using a color that this young Pittsburgh-based artist (whose name is pronounced like “shy Keith”) calls “haint blue,” a reference to the indigo paint that African-American Gullah Geechee people once used to ward off malevolent spirits.

Surrounding these are a series of large photo portraits of Black men, against black backgrounds, in black frames. They’re all frankly homoerotic, but sometimes the artist also tilts their nudity, or semi-nudity, in different directions. In one, two men extend their hands over the arching, sweat-beaded torso of a third, possibly blessing or exorcising him. Another shows a tattooed man in a gold chain and do-rag licking his lips. Closing his eyes, he seems at once present and remote, not fully captured by the camera.

It’s the evocative but never overly revealing way Shikeith portions out all this information, his combination of intimacy and inaccessibility, that makes the overall show so memorable. His practice may not yet be fully rooted — I don’t know whether “grace comes violently” is a photo show with sculptures, a sculpture show with photos or a single installation — but I’m excited to see where it goes. WILL HEINRICH

SOHO

Through July 3. A83 Gallery, 83 Grand Street, Manhattan, a83.site.

Claude Parent (1923-2016), a visionary French architect, imagined an evocative universe of architectural possibilities in exquisite graphite drawings. He is not well known in the United States, but was a central figure in the cultural and social tumult of Paris that began in the late 1960s.

The 44 “architectural fictions” — as Parent called them — on view in the show “Oblique Narratives No. 1” explore ways of freeing the perception of architecture from the tyranny of utilitarian Modernism. Parent’s “theory of the oblique” was sensual and experiential, designs that people would feel with their bodies, thanks to sloping floors and tilting walls.

Parent built a few extraordinary buildings, restlessly reinventing his style each time. Architects including Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne and Jean Nouvel found a kindred spirit in Parent, as they designed fluid surfaces and fragmented structures.

He drew constantly until near the end of his life at age 93. In the dreamlike works the gallery has brought from the Claude Parent Archive in Paris, the oblique is represented as a point of view — an aerial perspective of the composition zooming off the paper at a diagonal, for example. He imagined enormous, monumentally sublime fragments of cities.

An elegant draftsman, Parent used a technique called scumbling to painstakingly build up layers of curved scratches to create a wide range of tonal effects. The result is as alluringly tactile as a fine swath of fabric, while sometimes possessing an undertow of menace. JAMES S. RUSSELL


MIDTOWN

Through June 3. Presented by New Canons. International Building, 630 Fifth Avenue, concourse level, Manhattan. newcanons.com.

An artist looking for visual metaphors can do worse than visiting Florida, a place that can seem to exist like a dream, and not always a good one. Over the past two years, the artist Tommy Malekoff has been filming in and around the Everglades, where images of intense beauty crash into abject horror with astonishing regularity.

Six wall-size screens pulsate with his footage, a kaleidoscopic, at times punishing array of natural splendor punctuated by ecological calamity. The usual players of human encroachment figure here — burning planes, belching smokestacks, unregulated development — but the tenor is less polemic than balletic. Malekoff depicts a danse macabre, the way nature adapts to our havoc, or doesn’t: Manatees, a popular tourist attraction, are drawn to waters warmed by chemical runoff, where they starve to death; raging fires are deliberately set to control sugar cane crops, an agricultural shortcut banned most everywhere except Florida, where it attracts gawking tourists, and chokes the poor communities nearby. Set to a droning score by Joe Williams that fills the space like a dissonant sound bath, the effect is like channel surfing through the apocalypse.

Situating the work in a spooky, disused storage room in the bowels of the Rockefeller Plaza’s International Building is a neat coup. Malekoff’s looping nightmare disturbs the building’s Deco-gentility, its own kind of touristic ecosystem plunked in the center of Midtown, where grace and garishness are inextricable. The non-place heightens the subject matter’s otherworldliness, and the infinite loops in which we trap ourselves. MAX LAKIN

CHELSEA

Through June 4. David Zwirner, 525 West 19th Street, Manhattan. 212-727-2070, davidzwirner.com.

Michaël Borremans may be the greatest living figurative painter. Based in Ghent, Belgium, home to Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s epic altarpiece, “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” (1432), he has subsumed 500 years of painting into his art. Yet his work is informed by history, not mired in it.

“The Acrobats” provides an opportunity — all too rare on this side of the Atlantic — to see the genius of Borremans in the flesh. He renders skin with such intensity that the living, breathing, blood-coursing nature of the human being becomes vividly alive. In “The Witch,” Borremans seems to be teasing the viewer with a knowing contradiction: The left hand — hands being famously difficult to paint — is awkwardly held before the ambiguously gendered figure’s chest to suggest the form of a witch’s broom, while at once being meticulously rendered with sinew, tendon and veins. In “The Double,” the sitter is costumed in a metallic quilted suit, as if offering protection from an immense heat, with a pink-orange glow reflected off its surface. The face glistens: pink in a pink balaclava, eyes slightly closed. But the magma heat also seems to be creeping up and radiating from an underpainted layer on the canvas. Borremans’s paintings all seem to stop at a near-final moment, with just enough of the brush work and layering left observable. As if a solid thing suddenly has emerged from some elusive vaporous material. It’s painterly magic. A major New York museum retrospective is long overdue.

JOHN VINCLER

Chelsea

Through June 4. Susan Inglett Gallery, 522 West 24th Street, Manhattan. 212-647-9111; inglettgallery.com.

I spent a long time looking at “American Animals,” the title piece of a new show of work by Robyn O’Neil, a Nebraska-born artist who lives in the Pacific Northwest. A graphite-on-canvas drawing nearly 12 feet wide, the piece shows white male heads — 162 of them, according to the gallery — with various hairstyles and a sprinkling of mustaches, emerging from or face-planting into a series of low ridges. These ridges, striated like muscle but with the dull sheen of much-corrected homework, could pass for billowing waves or the buckling of a grassy field, but what they most look like is hair.

A much smaller drawing shows another man and a pit bull labeled “the 2 most deadly animals in America”; others feature a bison, a whale and a bald eagle covered in marauding, ant-size humans. The mood overall is retro-apocalyptic, and at first I couldn’t help taking the heads of “American Animals,” which look like so many escapees from a 1950s barbershop poster, as the unexorcised ghosts of America’s sexist and racist demons. After all, few of them are upright, and even those seem unable to look farther than the next ridge. There’s something discouraging, too, about the contrast between the drawing’s grand scale and the impermanence of its medium.

But after noticing how the ridges drop, like a descending brook, in the lower right corner, I realized that fully half of the faces were skipping upstream like salmon. Maybe there’s hope after all. WILL HEINRICH

Chelsea

Through June 4. Flag Art Foundation, 545 West 25th Street, Manhattan. 212-206-0220; flagartfoundation.org.

The first thing I heard about Peter Uka, a Nigerian painter based in Cologne, Germany, is that his father was a sign painter. I couldn’t help finding echoes of this family business in Uka’s New York debut, a suite of incredibly appealing scenes, painted from memory and imagination, of the groovy Nigeria of his 1970s childhood.

There’s the mileage he gets out of large blocks of color, like a bright yellow door set in a cool gray wall in “Dengue Pose II.” And there’s the slick pop of the colors themselves — the orange wall behind a young woman in a white dress in “Front Yard Things,” the deep red backdrop behind three giddy young men in “Sunday Folks.” There’s the graphic zip of his compositions, as jaunty and well-balanced as avant-garde record album covers. And there’s his overall economy, the way he confidently foreshortens a pointing finger or builds convincing faces from nothing but highlight and shadow.

But in the end what struck me most was how comfortable Uka is giving visual pleasure. It’s interesting in this respect to compare his “Basement Barbers” (2018) to Kerry James Marshall’s 1993 masterpiece, “De Style.” Where Marshall’s painting is grand, political, aggressive and inspiring, Uka’s is quieter and more intimate, a real everyday moment presented just as it is. WILL HEINRICH

Little Italy

Through June 4. Helena Anrather, 132 Bowery, Manhattan. 917-355-7724; helenaanrather.com.

There’s an enormous picture window at one end of Helena Anrather’s new gallery space, three panes of glass joined, or divided, by thin white epoxy seams. It looks over a block on which at least three different versions of the Bowery — one in Chinatown, one dotted with luxury hotels, and one in the old lighting fixtures district — are all jammed together.

It’s the perfect setting for six new paintings by Julia Wachtel. These landscape-oriented pieces, each made of as many as five separate panels placed edge to edge, juxtapose silk-screened found photographs of contemporary life with oversized hand-painted cartoon characters. In “Fulfillment,” the piece that gives the show its title, a photograph of an endlessly receding Amazon warehouse is placed beside a cartoon reindeer with piercing blue eyes. In “Duck,” a shot of the heavily bearded cast of the reality TV series “Duck Dynasty” is interrupted by a jauntily marching Donald Duck.

At first, the cartoons just come off as comments on the photos. The reindeer is an ironic nod to the cheery mascot that hides every dystopian corporate reality; Donald brings some levity to the weirdly serious “Duck Dynasty” cast. But the characters are so crisp and straightforward next to the fuzzy, ambiguous photographs that they slowly begin to read as an alternate reality, one in which America’s disintegrating public discourse is replaced by the narrow but reliable certainties of art. Whether you find that comforting or unnerving depends on which side you’re looking at. WILL HEINRICH

WEST VILLAGE

Through June 5. Eli Klein Gallery, 398 West Street, Manhattan; 212-255-4388, galleryek.com.

Before she was murdered in February in her apartment in Chinatown, Christina Yuna Lee studied art history as an undergraduate at Rutgers University and went on to work at Eli Klein Gallery for four years, during which time she made a painting for her boss. It depicts the cover of a pack of Golden Bridge cigarettes, with a pool of maroon paint behind the brand name. Looking at the painting recently, I read foreboding into that dark red mass. But it was my mind’s imposition. I was searching for meaning in Lee’s senseless death.

In a more formal way, the exhibition “With Her Voice, Penetrate Earth’s Floor” does the same. Curated by Stephanie Mei Huang, it honors Lee with an altar of offerings below her painting and creates a space of mourning for Asian American and Pacific Islander women. The nine participating artists grapple with personal and communal traumas in complementary ways, from Maia Ruth Lee’s paintings of atomized sewing patterns, from her series “Language of Grief,” to Hong-An Truong’s stills of anonymous Vietnamese women in videos shot by American soldiers in the ’60s — ’70s. “My mother could have been captured on this footage,” Truong writes in the catalog. The show’s title, too, refers to tragedy: It comes from “Dictee,” an experimental novel by the artist and writer Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, who was also murdered in Lower Manhattan, in 1982.

The gallery is suffused with loss, but the artworks are open and layered. Their existence and convening offer a small countermeasure of hope. JILLIAN STEINHAUER


Brooklyn

Through June 11. Blank Forms, 468 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn. 347-916-0833; blankforms.org.

Jerry Hunt (1943-93) was a lot of things: a “virtuoso talker,” according to a new book devoted to the artist; a modern-day shaman who was a cross between a 1950s insurance salesman and the Beat writer William S. Burroughs; and an electronic music pioneer who lived in Texas but was better known in Europe. “Transmissions From the Pleroma” at Blank Forms examines Hunt’s career, showcasing his videos, photographs of his outré performances, handwritten musical scores and enigmatic objects such as his totem-like “wands,” made with the assemblage artist David McManaway.

Born in Waco, Texas, Hunt was trained as a classical pianist and plied his craft everywhere, from jazz clubs to strip clubs. However, he once said, “I might have given up on music altogether if it hadn’t been for John Cage and the new emphasis he gave to communication.” Cage’s experimental influence can be felt everywhere in Hunt’s work, from videos in which he carries on absurd conversations to musical scores that look more like abstract drawings. The curious “wands,” often used in performances, cobble together sticks, old gloves and hardware parts.

One deadpan video is titled “How to Kill Yourself Using the Inhalation of Carbon Monoxide Gas” (1993). The work calls to mind the famous existentially tinged quote by the French writer Albert Camus: “There is only one really serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” Hunt’s video adds to that proposition a consideration of everyone else who might be affected by that decision. Suicide, after all, as he stresses, involves more than the individual performer. MARTHA SCHWENDENER

See Also

NoLIta

Through June 11. Company Gallery, 145 Elizabeth Street, Manhattan. 646-756-4547; companygallery.us.

At the center of Raúl de Nieves’s new show, “Carnage Composition,” is a corpse, the victim of a disaster in the studio: a colorful beaded, sequined and bauble-encrusted figure that collapsed under the weight of its own baroque excess. Its fragments now reconfigured with limbs all akimbo, and supported by a steel scaffold that simultaneously cradles and pierces it through, the piece (“The Deaths of Everyday,” 2021-22) is a testament to the regeneration that follows destruction, a cycle that keeps pushing our world forward.

The Brooklyn-based artist’s aesthetic is a mash-up of elements including Mexican Diá de los Muertos celebrations, ballroom culture and the Roman Catholic Church, all of which revel in ritual, regalia, adornment, rebirth and the eventual pleasure that comes from deep pain. High-heeled shoes, barely recognizable under the layers of intricately applied decoration (as in “The Revolting Grace,” “Star-Crossed Lovers” and “I’ll Go Along to Be With You,” all 2022) and a multipart folding screen (“The Book of Hours,” 2022) evoke the dramatic potential of a fabulous costume change. But the fact that the screen is decorated with images of lords and ladies dancing with skeletons (a familiar motif in medieval Christian art), and that the gallery walls, and even some of the artworks, are covered with over a thousand translucent, larger-than-life resin flies — creatures that feed on, lay their eggs in, and eventually re-emerge from decomposing flesh — makes clear that, in de Nieves’s world, joy always has its price, but even death has its rewards. ARUNA D’SOUZA

Upper East Side

Through June 18. Gray New York, 1018 Madison Avenue, Second Floor, Manhattan; 212-472- 8787, richardgraygallery.com.

Evelyn Statsinger’s art is making its stunning New York debut at Gray New York, six years after the artist, who was born in Brooklyn, died in Chicago at the age of 88. On hand are 10 oils and five drawings from the 1980s and early ’90s.

The show’s title, “Currents,” reflects Statsinger’s diverse cultural sources: Surrealism as well as Native American, prehistoric and Japanese arts and crafts. And it may also indicate the conduit-like elements that course through her compositions, pulsing with energy. The independence of her art derives from its inventive use of highly refined textures and patterns, their abundant associations and their peculiar balance of real and unreal. Her paintings are essentially representations of abstractions.

Associations with nature and design are especially strong: Various textures suggest bark, wave patterns, Formica and, frequently, custom molding. In “Central Forces” these moldings are full of undulating lines that suggest something like changing moisture levels. They frame a central area whose pattern of phthalo blue, black and red on a cream background mesmerizingly evokes Pollock, endpapers, Ken Price’s sanded ceramic surfaces and paisley.

Catalogs from some of Statsinger’s gallery shows in Chicago suggest that this presentation barely scratches the surface of the different ways she marshaled her motifs, patterns and color schemes from around 1950 forward. Her work was in the early Monster Roster exhibitions that prepared the ground for the Chicago Imagists. Her achievement is a great addition to the history of modern American art. ROBERTA SMITH

Upper East Side

Through June 18, Michael Werner, 4 East 77th Street, Manhattan. 212-988-1623; michaelwerner.com.

In addition to films, modern manifestoes and wild stage sets, the French artist Francis Picabia (1879-1953) made two-dimensional works in sharply contrasting styles: Dadaist drawings inspired by technical manuals; Surrealist “Monster” paintings; and late, baldly Pop-kitsch canvases mimicking mass media. His new show, “Women: Works on Paper 1902-1950,” with over 40 works on paper spanning 50 years of his career, suggests a thread of interest connecting them all.

Drawings from the first decade of the 20th century depict Spanish performers with wide-set eyes and tiny bow-like lips who look like exotic cats. Later, Picabia drew Jazz Age movie sirens like Greta Garbo and Carole Lombard, their sharply tweezed eyebrows registering like shock-emojis on the silent film screen.

Picabia was known as a playboy and a trickster, but it would be wrong, I think, merely to throw him into the camp of male artists asserting their avant-garde prowess on the backs of women. (Four crude drawings of unhappy women parting their legs, presumably for sex, serve as glum reminders of the reality of most sex work.)

Instead, like his friend Marcel Duchamp, who styled his female alter ego Rrose Sélavy partially after Greta Garbo, Picabia was fascinated by the powerful impact of movies and illustrated magazines on huge populations. The “Women” here feel like analogue versions of today’s obsessions with digital filters and plastic surgery, pioneered after World War I, with Picabia capturing these transformations in modern culture, literally inscribed in the faces of women. MARTHA SCHWENDENER

Tribeca

Through July 1. George Adams Gallery, 38 Walker Street, Manhattan. 212-564-8480; georgeadamsgallery.com.

Robert Colescott, who died in 2009, was deadly serious about complexity and injustice, but the paintings he made about race in America also had a sense of humor — if not about the subject itself, then at least about the limitations of art as a way of confronting it. His wry, resigned, fiery approach is particularly well encapsulated by “Frankly My Dear … I Don’t Give a Damn,” one of several 1990s-era acrylics currently showing, along with a few slightly surreal watercolors, at George Adams Gallery.

In the painting’s lower left corner, a maudlin white man with a pompadour and goatee holds a swooning Black woman in a checked gingham dress; two skeletons recap their pose on the other side. Imperious golden faces gaze down, a nervous woman leans against a burning planet down below, and a suggestion of hellfire whispers behind the skeletons. A ribbon of red and green, in combination with the angels’ gold, suggest a Pan-African banner. Everything is there to bring out the cosmic epic implicit in one famous line from “Gone With the Wind” — Colescott even letters the phrase across a starry blue sky.

But his color choices, the way he crowds all the figures to the front, and his quick and vigorous brushwork combine to give the piece the feeling of a magazine illustration, too. It’s as good as saying, “Don’t look to me for solutions. This is only a comment.” WILL HEINRICH

Chelsea

Through July 29. Hauser & Wirth, 542 West 22nd Street, Manhattan. 212-790-3900, hauserwirth.com.

Artists are models of freedom. It’s part of the fantasy that sustains art’s cultural relevance, but artmaking is work.

The star of Nicole Eisenman’s “(Untitled) Show” is an oversized cartoonish figure sitting at the center of “Maker’s Muck” (2022). The hands of this plaster sculpture are at a potter’s wheel that’s spinning away interminably producing rocklike forms that pile on its right. Surrounding, on the low sprawling platform, are numerous other sculptural attempts, among them: baked flatbread, an oversized ketchup bottle and what appears to be a time bomb. As a whole, the eclectic accumulation reads as an emblem about the necessity to fail and the need to keep at it.

The mischievous whimsy of Eisenman’s sculptures shouldn’t distract you from seriously looking at the paintings, which use a grab bag of modernist formal approaches and techniques (like raked paint for the texture of clothing or hair). The Brooklyn artist often uses several styles in the same work, as in the standout painting, “The Abolitionists in the Park” (2020-21). There’s pizza and tender embraces among a crowd gathered on a blue tarp, with Guston-like caricatures occupying the margins and a realist dual-portrait of Hannah Black and Tobi Haslett occupying the middle. Black and Haslett are the authors (along with Ciarán Finlayson) of “The Tear Gas Biennial,” a 2019 essay protesting the presence of a weapons manufacturer on the Whitney Museum’s board. This is ambitious history painting thinking through freedom, asking whose? JOHN VINCLER

Chinatown

On view indefinitely. Martos After Dark, 167 Canal Street, Manhattan; 212-260-0670; martosgallery.com.

Tyree Guyton came home to Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt in 1986. The neighborhood — like many in the city’s inner ring — has been gutted by decades of white flight and pointed neglect. Guyton cleaned up a string of fallow lots, then assembled the junk into bitter monuments of resilience. The resulting Heidelberg Project lines a long block with bleached mountains of shoes, harlequin tableaus of rusty cars and an acrobatic stack of shopping carts. Guyton’s topsy-turvy paintings of clocks, some turned around or without numbers, dot the view like roadside Bible verses. “Time is running out,” they seem to say: “Repent!” Bold designs cover nearby houses — some abandoned, but a few in solidarity with their residents against attacks from NIMBY arsonists and philistine politicians.

Gradually, the winds changed. Detroit’s ruling class now see the value that public art and selfie-hunting tourists bring to real estate — or, less cynically, see art Guyton’s way: as part of the blighted city’s spiritual recovery. Today, Heidelberg Project enjoys official status. And Guyton is franchising: A corner storefront on Canal Street in Chinatown contains a slice of Heidelberg. Through the glass, blotchy, costumed mannequins sit around a cluttered table and a TV painted with the words “World New.” A vacuum inhales an American flag. Clocks cover the walls. The domestic scene feels incongruous and vivisected at street level. Is this the neighborhood’s past? Its future? Detroit? New York? The display advertises the larger project. It also invokes the specter of urban renewal in downtown Manhattan. Time, time, time … TRAVIS DIEHL


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