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10/27/11
Freeman’s Alley: Take that, Paris
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Photo: Call My Lawyer (detail), by Jimmy Trotter

Photo: Call My Lawyer (detail), by Jimmy Trotter.

Let’s face it—New York is great, but it’s not Paris. It doesn’t have that beautiful pale stone palette, that uniform low horizon, that radial street layout that gives it a geographical heart, all those brasseries. But Freeman’s Alley, near the Bowery, actually feels just a little bit like Paris, if you squint your eyes to blur the New York coarseness and thin coating of grime. And if you stumble upon it the way I did, it feels all the more magical.

I happened into Mulherin + Pollard gallery at 187 Chrystie Street, where I saw Jimmy Trotter’s exhibition, The Sweetest Kill (through Oct 30), plus an engaging group show, Daydreaming Animals. Trotter uses various media to draw, paint, and layer text and cartoon and pop imagery in serendipitous, yet highly satisfying compositions. It’s like a cross-section of the content of his brain, laid out in plain sight. Your eye is tugged from one image cluster to another, noticing along the way an overlaid geometric structure camouflaged in white. Words process differently than images, so it feels like your brain is being massaged while being fed candy. Another work features a bunch of glued-on pom-poms (Puff Balls) that made me smile. So did Babylon, an installation featuring an shrine of plastic figurines and small toys sheltered within a grotto made of 100+ drawings and scraps.

Daydreaming Animals, the small group show in the back curated by Able Brown and Casey Farnum, included works with animal imagery, many in unexpected media, like cut paper, Polaroids, or t-shirts. The effect was at times enchanting—part fable, dream, and wild imagination, mixed in with flashes of satire and sarcasm.

And I’d been to Freeman’s Alley before, but having no sense of direction, I didn’t realize that Mulherin + Pollard’s back door opens onto it, like the armoire in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Outside, groups of people were streaming toward Freeman’s for brunch, and into Freeman’s Sporting Club for a shave. Salon 94 is located there as well, and had up Dzine’s show, Imperial Nail Salon (closed), with lots of shiny, sparkly, sometimes mean art, such as “Middle Finger Rings for Ex-Lovers,” and glistening, seductive works composed of layers of junk jewelry lacquered one shiny color. A chandelier of gold chains was the fitting centerpiece for this gallery, one element in the closest thing we have to a charming Parisian alleyway.

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SundayArts is made possible in part by First Republic Bank and by the Rubin Museum of Art. Funding for SundayArts is also made possible by Rosalind P. Walter, The Paul and Irma Milstein Foundation, The Philip & Janice Levin Foundation, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Jody and John Arnhold, and The Lemberg Foundation. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional funding provided by members of THIRTEEN.