Artist in the Marketplace

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Art in Review: ‘Artist in the Marketplace’ - 19th Annual Exhibition,
By Holland Cotter, © The New York Times, 07/23/1999

Artist in the Marketplace is the Bronx Museum's 12-week boot-camp program in the post-production strategies that go into establishing and sustaining an art career. A group exhibition of work by the 36 participants ends the experience on a real-life note.

Such showcases are always a problem. It's all but impossible to judge an artist on the basis of a piece or two, as one is asked to do here. And when wildly divergent work is ranged around and across a single large open room, the result is a visual competition that doesn't do anyone much good.

As a further distraction, this year's show is aurally competitive as well. Alyson Levy's two-speaker sound piece plays a single song at various speeds. Wendy Chisholm's videos use Hollywood-style fanfares to introduce the artist's laconic re-enactments of certain big-deal art moments. (In place of a live coyote in her version of Joseph Beuys's ''I Like America, and America Likes Me'' she substitutes a bemused pet cat.)

Installation makes an appearance here: in a political piece by Kim Mayhorn, in Tamara Mewis's closet-size architectural enclosure made of string, and in two homages (which is a lot for one show) to the martial arts deity Bruce Lee.

But much of the most promising work is painting and drawing.

In the latter category, the German-born Erik Parker, who seems to be into making lists, comes through with a Philip Guston-esque piece that raises a punchy, jittery salute to people and places in the Bronx. And Marcia Neblett's charcoal image of a fanged and rabid-looking Little Red Riding Hood encountering her wolf is a memorable addition to the recent spate of fairy-tale imagery in art.

Among the abstract works, standouts include two drawings by Brian Guidry - one soft ivory and pink - that have the weight and presence of paintings; Lizzie Scott's swimming-pool-blue floor piece of encaustic on silk, which suggests a cross between a baby's blanket and a 70's Richard Tuttle, and Takashi Usui's ink drawings of biomorphic forms that evoke pods, teardrops, sexual organs and the work of Louise Bourgeois.

Jayne Holsinger's oil painting ''Self-Portrait as a Woman Driver'' is clean and crisp, as, in a different way, is Frank Webster's chalky, geometric, near-abstract ''Chelsea Gas Station.'' Valerie Atkisson's ''Matriarchal Line,'' a family tree drawn up a wall and onto the ceiling, and Domingo Nuno's Latino romance-comic outtakes with stuff going on behind the scenes leave one intrigued to see what both artists will be doing down the line.

It's interesting to note that even the most ''now'' looking pieces in the show (Mr. Parker's and Ms. Neblett's, say) don't offer anything especially new. But that's the way of the art world these days, and Artist in the Marketplace is, for better and for worse, a fairly accurate reflection of the market itself.