Up at Columbia’s LeRoy Neiman Gallery MFA student Nora Griffin – well-known already downtown and before her enrollment as an editor on the Brooklyn Rail, a writer here at artcritical, and an exhibiting artist – has organized and is taking part in a show of quirky, whimsical, often belligerently casual abstraction, “Fool’s House,” closing Friday. The title derives from a painting by Jasper Johns who is a point of reference, perhaps, to various works on display in which language and gesture fuse, as in Griffin’s own “Of Bricks…Who Built it?” a piece that insouciantly wraps itself around a wall, taking its text from a John Ashbery poem. “Fool’s House” brings together two of Griffin’s peers, Jim Lee and Becky Brown, also an MFA student, in her case at Hunter, with a distinguished track that like Griffin’s includes contributions to these pages; Brown is enamored of Richard Tuttle-like, studiedly scrappy juxtapositions of painted found forms. The show has two early-to-mid-career artists, Peter Gallo, another devotee of rough-hewn textual pieces, and Josephine Halvorson, a Columbia graduate and sometime instructor, who is master of understated trompe l’oeil precisionism. And finally, the eminence grise of this group show is Ron Gorchov, who is represented here with a typical saddle-shaped support sporting an iconic pair of amorphic glyphs.
Meanwhile, the penultimate day of the show, October 27, sees a lecture appearance at the adjacent Miller Theater by the aforementioned Tuttle, that dean of oddball slightness. “Refiguring the Spiritual” will also include a dialogue between the postminimalist painter and sculptor and Professor of Religion Mark Taylor. This exchange is the first in a new series of collaborations between Columbia’s Institute of Religion, Culture and Public Life and the School of the Arts Visual Arts Program. The event is free and starts at 6.30pm, 2960 Broadway at West 116th Street.print