Titularly yet tentatively, this three-person exhibition is about psychedelic mushrooms, but only one piece depicts toadstools. That work is Chris Martin’s “Untitled” (2013), a freestanding vinyl screen, more than 15 feet wide and 10 feet tall, portraying a woman foraging in the woods. Tree-size mushrooms surround her as she bends down to pluck something from the forest floor, while a painted void eats into the scene from the top right corner. Martin is best known for making rhythmic, semi-abstract paintings, and we get the sense that working with collaged figuration is freeing for the artist—that it’s important for him to shake things up.
Martin’s other works on display likewise utilize a mix of materials to create eccentric imagery. There’s a James Brown record screwed to the wall, with spray-painted gold dots and lines radiating across the black vinyl; a “Daily News” front page announcing the death of Michael Jackson coated in chunky orange, yellow, and blue paint and gel medium; a cloudy glitter-and-oil painting that resembles sparkling galaxies viewed from deep space; and a black-and-white photo of a guy by the seashore cradling nine pumice stones, while broadly painted lines in yellow, red, and green burst all around him. This one hangs from the brick façade outside the gallery, where summer rains, wind gusts, pollution, and sunlight will continue to alter the picture.
Katharina Grosse’s four acrylic-on-canvas paintings here are pure abstractions. In each, a stark white foreground seems to split open and bleed rainbows of pigment. They have a nightmarish quality despite the pretty colors. Joanne Greenbaum’s ceramic creations in the middle of the gallery are biomorphic forms with mottled glazes that celebrate physical degeneration. They could be melting rocks or organic blobs (fungi, perhaps).
All in all, the works suggest hallucinations in the hinterlands of the mind, where the real world gives way to sensory sensuality.
JOANNE GREENBAUM, KATHARINA GROSSE, AND CHRIS MARTIN, “MUSHROOM HUNTER”
The Journal Gallery, 106 N. 1st St., through 6/23
Nancy Lupo combines dollar-store items, food morsels, and model-making supplies into vessels that look remarkably organic. Anything is up for grabs as an artistic medium, and reading the list of materials is almost as exciting as looking at the sculptures.
An especially surprising ingredient is the quinoa embedded in “Hat, Sun, Shadow, Hat” (all works 2013), which resembles a sunhat balancing atop a dome and includes the additional components of a steel mixing bowl, Magic Sculpt, Magic Smooth, foam, and fiberglass. The granular texture of the quinoa lends the piece an earthiness that belies its more artificial constituents. Another hat-shaped work, called “Charlie Brown Horn,” is partly made from old Tupperware and could be a three-dimensional incarnation of the straw hat Vincent van Gogh wore in a few of his self-portraits.
Other vessels appear to hold water—actually smooth, clear epoxy resin—with stuff suspended inside. The most illusionistic of these is “Big Gulp,” a see-through cup containing tropical-blue resin and cotton balls that mimic ice cubes. Elsewhere, foil balls, cricket balls, and rubber balls are incorporated into works. In her “Balls Bunch” series, Lupo connects silvery orbs into snaking floor sculptures that echo the much smaller ball chains (the kind used for punk-rock necklaces and dog tags) encased in nearby pieces.
Things that really shouldn’t go together end up forming perfect unions throughout this head-scratchingly original show.
NANCY LUPO, “HATS AND BALLS”
Soloway, 348 S. 4th St., through 6/23