Art by J. Fiber, close up, ink on paper. Cloud Nine is open until May 13

Anyway, I was at this opening (I'll have to borrow someone's snap since I didn't take any of the opening) and this show is called CLOUD NINE and it's at this Billyburg gallery, The Front Room, and it's crowded as shit, hot, the beers gone and I get introduced to this artist, Disney Nasa Borg, (?), and he's a surfer but he looks like he's from Road Warrior. So we're gabbin' about cold water when this angry little thing in glasses places herself in the middle of us, like a ref, looks up and says "excuse me but can I see the art?" and bulldozes her way to the big life size collage of a naked fat dude in a room encrusted with fast food wrappers. (by Cham Giobbi) She was a pisser that one. Why at an opening that is so damn crowded in a small room? It's not like I haven't seen it before but there is that simmering aggression of the desperate under appreciated artist that flowers in unlikely places. I appreciate her segway - so I went to the show the next day when the gallery was relatively quiet.

Photograph by Jung Nam Lee

The Believer* Style (in that it's longish form)

So if I don't think about some kind of intellectual joust with the establishment and society's need to be numb that has been posited by the curatorial statement, I can be perfectly happy just looking at the work. CLOUD NINE, the group show at The Front Room is really kind of messily perfect. Larry Walczak has put together a gemutlichkeit floater of a show that just puts enough hard likker work to make the prettier work even prettier. Now don't get bunched up because I said some of the work is pretty, for crissake I know it's more than that. Hell, the photograph by Bruce Checefsky is drop dead beautiful, as is much of the work I have seen by Bruce. His waterless aquatic florals caught in light are mesmerizing as they are cinematic. The twisting graphic strands of bold color by Patricia Fabricant, emanating from a central stem flow outward in post psychedelic tendrils, and like Checefsky, clearly demonstrate meticulous attention to execution. I can see these pictures filling theater screens, and though Ms. Fabricant works in the tight design of book covers, Checefsky I know from the C.I.A., where I met him as the director of the Reinberger Gallery but really we connected when we talked about producing a Polish action film for the American market. He is an accomplished filmmaker, so it's no great leap that his vision translates to any scale.

Art - Patricia Fabricant, gouache on paper. More work by the other artists below.

Already ginormous, conflicted send offs to historic painting are Cham Giobbi and Gregory de la Haba. Nothing held back here in either as these artists revel in excess above-the-line reference to the history of painting. Giobbi is allegorical in his true scale photo assemblage that would be a stand up version of Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon eating Mickey D's while de la Haba figuratively alludes a hoodie Goya ghost on brick wails supported by a pall bearing foundation of the reverse halo of neon, a paean to Mike Kelley. These works both evoke curiosity, a thought bubble, because they utilize physical materials that are fearlessly hard to manage and layer them with images that pack a wallop. The ultimate juxto faces de la Haba's moonlike hooded figures with Chris Clarey's web-based gay porn blown up and mounted on stretcher bars like the expensive process it must surely be. The images run from more than real size to the tiniest of stamp-sized patterned wallpaper that on a close look, yep, are tiny little dirty pictures. Slick dick, that Chris Clarey.

Art - Gregory de la Haba, oil on mixed media, neon, 2012

Moving around in the gallery is truly loaded because each work in spite of their size deserves a separate scrutiny that would drive a writer to "essay" each one, but I can't pay myself enough to do that. David Kramer's classic 50's-60's style graphic sexy pulp style never ceases to please me with the satire that he injects with copy, and it doesn't get in the way because his brushwork is spare and like his women, lush. I don't really get Jeanne Tremel's intimate abstraction on paper but I respect it. One could easily live with it, that I know, and learn the secret she imbues over time if one has the acuity. It's easier to focus on more spectacular works but that doesn't mean anything. An Indian miniature painted with a hair can illuminate a chunk of the universe. The tag team of J.Fiber (Jane Fine and James Esber) does that. The elaborate freeform meta-entrails wrap inside each other in a translation of the psychedelic experience as sexual as one can only try to imagine the freedom of allowance for anything to happen, happens. I can't say they were skidelikked. I looked and it might just be the memory of intense mind altering substance disinhibition. The beauty is in not knowing the artist's state since that is their spirit territory, and they know it. i'll just say it's worth the price to ponder. I do know that Jane Fine herself has delivered wondrous challenges for the viewer at Pierogi 2000, where she has shown consistently with distinction.

In the end, the truth is that looking at the work and writing about it is transformative only I really do not want to be the fusty critic with a toolbox of wrenches because that part is over for me. Chris Jehly's explosive larger painting would on size and spectacle dominate the wall with a Fred Tomaselli and an Amy Hill but it doesn't because the art holds it's own, and Linda Ganjian's intricate game piece sculpture in the center of the room anchors the exhibition with strategy that brings in the Lorella Paleni dreamscape, Brent Ridge's Heaven or Hell, and Jesse Lambert's floral life and death scape. The walls are only walls, the show is one, and if I have it right it's made in Brooklyn, a place I cut my teeth on and now I know they were baby teeth. This show isn't for babies, but it's seriously playful, professional, and psychologically spacious.

Art - Jesse Lambert, paint on paper. More image loading through the show!

Art - Cham Giobbi, photo collage (left) and Lorella Paleni, oil on canvas (right)

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