Abbey Williams: Yes
I never buy candy bars off kids in the subway, but I like watching other people do it, and if the buyer happens to be slouching on a slippery L-train bench, wearing partially unflattering nightclub attire and thick black lipstick, all the better, and if I actually see her mouth say “Thank you” as someone passes a treat in its yellow wrapper I may unaccountably approach ecstasy, and if this all takes place on a hospital-style TV monitor in a unisex bathroom, if this bathroom sits in a semi-crummy basement, I know that art understands me and my life is fulfilling.
Nina Lola Bachhuber: Untitled
Weird hairy body parts coming out of sleeves recall Philip Guston—red ink, even—and then this whole series of 16 drawings somehow gets personalized by one awkwardly sewn-together face.
Guy Ben-Ner: Moby Dick
Best scene: as Ishmael (artist) and Pip (daughter) share cereal bowl sliding back and forth between “waves,” rowdy Pip crawls across breakfast table into Ishmael’s proud arms—both cracking up.
Mike Bouchet: Celebrity Jacuzzi (Kofi Annan)
On my second visit this cardboard box’s water bubbled but still did not leak, murky with two-month-old salami. The aroma was pungent but remarkably self-contained. You had to get close.
Jason Burch: Three Steps Back, With Enough Force (Variation 2), Field
Someone’s chest heaves after yelling at uniform hillside houses. Someone fussily dressed frowns while tugging on branches. Someone in beige hunches amidst roadside reeds stocked with bounding deer. Inexplicably moving.
Ian Burns: The Epic Tour
My friend Jon rolled past. Preoccupied by particular jolts, he missed his face in the chintzy mirror, an airplane’s silhouette on green. It’s fascinating what a failure art apprehension is.
Benjamin Butler: In the Forest
This painting seemed a perfect fusion of Gerhard Richter’s Cityscape and Jorge Pardo’s yellow-green Dia Center floor. Similarly, Ann Pibal’s Epipheral made me miss Jo Baer. These are not criticisms.
Amy Cutler: Viragos, Dinner Party, Rations
Pigtail-hoisted birdcages. Matrons with upturned chairs for antlers kick the cloth off a well-spread table. Two women share a nose: one wields knife, the other French bread. Humorously tidy gouaches.
Jules de Balincourt: United We Stood
This painting offers its provocatively vague message in Ed Ruscha-like marquee letters, but with a little criss-cross right in the middle. My favorite hushed, easy moment of Greater New York.
Rico Gatson: Gun Play
A thoroughly dislikable, scarily attractive, howling, hysterical film. As figures kaleidoscopically doubled or imploded I wondered if this was what surrealism felt like before Dali umbrellas, scarves, and trapper keepers.
Wade Guyton: Untitled Action Sculpture (Breuer)
I tend not to notice sculptures, but this unraveled steel chair made me miss possessing fierce quantities of half-potential, half-kinetic energy. Hopefully it will inspire new surges in the future.
Valerie Hegarty: Birch Tree (P.S. 1)
Warped institutional tiles peel open suggesting roots slowly burst through a sidewalk. Papery scraps of leaves deftly recall the school that had been here before, and the marshland before that.
Jamie Isenstein: Magic Fingers
I got the “Will Return” sign. I thought, “A Maurizio Catalan-esque prank.” Later that week a friend’s Time Out spilled open onto an article about the creepy hand. Pleasant contingencies.
Jodie Vicenta Jacobson: DAMP
Three intriguing components of this shower-mist film: it’s twenty-one minutes long; it’s shot from a really short person’s point of view; there’s a mirror placed unnaturalistically on the toilet lid.
Ryan Johnson: Brainstorm
I hadn’t previously realized that what I most wanted to see made out of paper was a nerd in patterned oxford with its sleeves rolled up, flooded by colorful thought-scraps.
Lara Kohl: Once upon a Time, Yesterday
Seconds after finally lifting the freezer door I suggested Jon stop looking. The ice towers’ red flags had drawn out my protective side, as if they were so many dimples.
Gina Magid: Green Palm Trees
I hadn’t realized that the glow off well-placed Japanese gold-leaf paintings could be casually duplicated by green satin left alone. I always like a wolf’s head ghostly traced in charcoal.
Corey McCorkle: Heiligenshein
Maybe with such a spirally name one is bound to like circles. Light spun around doubling itself in the quiet room. I felt holy and close to whoever else entered.
Dominic McGill: Project for a New American Century
After I’d scorned this rather obvious, cliché-headlined paper wall, it totally succeeded in engulfing me, turning from a scroll into a labyrinth, right at the edge of a weird forest.
Ryan McGinley: Various titles
Favorite title in show: Wade, Wave. Favorite monochrome: this creamy blur from pink to not-quite-tangerine. Second favorite McGinley: androgynous being getting in or out of pool on a purple prairie.
Christopher Myers: Seven Veils for Julia Pastrana—Ugliest Woman in the World, Born Mexico 1834, Died Moscow 1860
One veil includes the orange grid of an Idaho Potatoes sack; its violet gauze shimmers with sixty keys—some have hotel numbers. Most veils include sunglasses—which I found funny.
Tobias Putrih: Macula Series A&L
Thousands of twirling cardboard slices end up resembling “Nude Descending a Staircase.” The inside of cardboard resembles cell walls. Instead of cubist simultaneity, lots of time spent cutting. Great pedestals.
The Atlas Group/Walid Raad: My Neck Is Thinner Than a Hair: Engines
Balsam frames and neat blue printing lend archival calm to 100 prints of post-explosion car bomb engines, usually circled by inquisitive crowds—now that I think about it, entirely male.
Reka Reisinger: Untitled (Red Rock Canyon), Untitled (Queens Museum)
Exciting scales: one figure your fingers could scrunch, the other dwarfs an architectural model of the city. I looked for my old Williamsburg building, like I always do from planes.
Mika Rottenberg: B12, B10, B13
Bubble-grids of slanted palm trees, sandwiches. Ribbed houses or stacks of plates ending on crying faces, or smiling ones slurping something yellow through a straw. Sometimes drawings are so smart.
Will Ryman: The Pit
Not everyone’s only two to three feet tall; there are exceptions, just like with tombstones, but all look up pleadingly, most with arms raised in chorus, many wearing Chuck Taylors.
Dasha Shishkin: Untitled
Endless varieties of amorous mammals: part Breughel, part Pollock, part porn-spread, part wallpaper, part mid-80s Shmuzzle Puzzle (in which every piece was shaped like a salamander)—all excitingly dense surface.
Taryn Simon: John Kerry, September 10th, 2004
One wall in every exhibition should make us want to cry. It was so nice to see this photograph on the Times Magazine. Strange: Kerry looks older in it now.
Marc Swanson: Killing Moon 3 (Self-Portrait as Yeti in his Lair)
Sequined antlers. Empty flasks in bird cages. Half a videocassette entitled BELFA instead of hamsters. Streamers of VHS tape instead of beads. Plaster bunny kills hanging from leather shoestrings. Skylight.
Yuken Teruya: Notice-Forest—various titles
Gold Godiva leaves with a few overturned white. Golden Asian Happy Meal dawn flamed blue and red. Barcode-thin blue McDonald’s pinstripes. Earthy Paul Smith rainbows. Deserves more than thirty words.
Leo Villareal: Devil’s Playground (White)
Moving, and not just because hung in an out-of-reach alcove, constantly dripping. I felt like an astronomer discovering interstellar whales when black and white dots occasionally, silently, swelled.
Steve Mumford: Drawings from the Baghdad Journal Series
In the age of anime, Mumford makes the most current snapshots seem antique, while aligning his own work to Goya’s. His abdication of the war photographer’s role as mute witness allows for the prodigious creation of unsettling (rather than merely fascinating) images. An already delicate line wavers, lingers on the wire-rim glasses worn by a New Hampshire National Guardsman (sniper) patrolling the Baqubah Police Headquarters’ roof at dusk in July 2004. Quick watercolors of Khark—a poor Sunni stronghold—slow down to think through the moment its residents reemerge after a prolonged gun battle. For once this war felt real.