Posted by Kristan Kennedy.

I started the my annual trip to NY  happily trapped in South Brooklyn, where snow plows feared to tread and where there wasn’t a Q train or a loaf of bread available for four days. At least my sister was there to lighten the mood.

When I did make it into the city, all of the galleries were still closed from the storm. Luckily, the Housing Works Authority Thrift Shop was open, because there I found two books that I expect will change my life forever. One was about Miss Piggy and her private collection, the “Kermitage.” See her here in a fetching Mondrian inspired frock:

And then there was  “Northwest Originals: Oregon Women and Their Art,” published in the 80s. It was great to see Christine Bourdette, Nanda D’Agostino, Laura Ross Paul and others at the beginnings of their auspicious careers. The glamor shots accompanying each artist bio inspired me to embrace my frizzy hair and gave me a historical reference other than Sally Jessy Raphael for current Northwest Original,  Krystal South‘s new glasses.

While waiting for my colleagues from PICA and around the world  to join me in New York for the Under the Radar Festival, I took a trip out to New Jersey to visit the studio of former Portlander, Derek Franklin. It is only three months into his time as a MFA at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, at Rutgers, and the walls and flat files were full of really good work. Who needs Chelsea when Newark is killing it?

Then it was off to Philadelphia, where I had both the Mutter and Mummer museums on my itinerary. I knew that I had a week of overwhelming art viewing ahead, so I focused on the weird and wild. The Mutter gives new meaning to the phrase “fresh eyes,” and it was the perfect place to re-frame my brain for some intense looking-at and thinking-about art.

Finally, my PICA peeps were here in town, and Patrick Leonard (Communications Director, PICA) Scott McEachern (Development Associate, PICA) and I formed a field trip trio, running from museum to gallery to hole-in-the-wall hand-pulled noodle joint each day before meeting up with the rest of the PICA staff in the evening for performances. Here are the highlights:

I think the guards at the Whitney were getting tired of trying to stop me from taking photographs of this painting from Paul Thek’s retrospective. On my fifth visit to the show, I still felt the overwhelming desire to cry. With one crystal tear in each eye, I took one last, longing look at the life of an artist, undervalued during his time  and unbelievably relevant to artists working right now.

Bob Nickas’s Annual Looking Back at White Columns did not disappoint. I almost ripped this Chris Vasell off the wall; I wanted it for my own show that I would be installing at PNCA’s Feldman Gallery the day I returned from the East Coast.

We hit Ruby Sky Stiler’s opening at Derek Eller, where she had a modest but compelling group of relief carvings with geometric patterns, further breaking apart the already fragile picture plane.

On the train from someplace to someplace else, I was struck by this ad, boasting classes in “Law and Ethics in the Art Market.” This ad space—usually reserved for Dr. Zizmor, the “subway dermatologist“—now seems to be harnessing the growing interest in all things Miami Art Basel.

At Green Naftali, the Richard Artschwager’s still look good to me, especially this one called Untitled (Black Beauty). It makes me think about horses, which makes me think of the first 20 minutes of the movie Black Stallion.

In other semi-related news; did anyone else hear that Jay Sanders, formerly of Green Naftali and Portland, will be one of the next curators for the Whitney Biennial? I am over the moon! Congrats Jay! And to the haters who think a former gallery director can’t be objective: don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Also from the show Filmschoenheit at Greene Naftali was this painting, which makes me terribly nervous, and therefore I love it.

Hands up! Raise the roof! That is the reaction we all had when we saw these goofy and subversive ceramics by Sean Bluechel at Nicole Klagsbrun. Everything we’d seen in the city up until this moment had seemed so serious, but this pulled the heart strings in a new way. Or rather, it gathered them in its hands and went, “snip, snip.” Totally disarming. HOORAH! Officially my new favorite.

Despite the snow having melted down to nice, surmountable hills, most of the galleries were totally unprepared for their openings that night; shipments had been delayed, employees were still stranded in the outer boroughs. As we walked through Chelsea in the late, late afternoon, it did not look good. Everyone was still hanging and the clock was tick-tocking. So it was a surprise to walk into Luhring Augustine and see it so pristine and austere with giant paintings hanging proud.

This Josh Smith has my mouth watering, but not as much as…

…this delicate marrow in a heavenly bowl of soup from Hung Ry.

After a long day of hoofing it all over town, we met some old friends at La MaMa to see a much-anticipated show by Gob Squad.

One of my very first PICA experiences was a Gob Squad show, when I was a lowly volunteer, who earned tickets by scraping fish guts off of a warehouse floor for one of the Dada Balls. BOY WAS IT WORTH IT! I have been dreaming of seeing this British/German collective again for more than a DECADE!

As one of the many offerings at the Under the Radar Festival curated by Mark Russell, (PICA’s former Artistic Director), Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You Never Had it So Good), was a sweet exploration of Andy Warhol’s films. Was it worth the wait? Yes. I won’t say more in the hope you will see it yourself someday soon.

Later still we made our way to the edge of the Bowery to the Abrons Art Center for Brave New Girl, the latest installment in Neal Medlyn’s teen dream-driven performances, and part of an exciting new showcase called American Realness. It was
hard to figure out where the Britney/Hannah/Neal began and end and we felt lucky to have seen ...HERS A QUEEN, his first installment, at TBA:10. The cuddle party scene gave us important context.

OK, where am I? I don’t know either. The days are blending into each other, each show and each bowl of delicious Chinese soup forming a brackish mixture of meaning. I will end here on my last day with the crew, when we saw Ohad Meromi’s installation at Art In General, which combined constructivist architectural assemblages with other transformative sources to form a playground for the revolutionary.

We then climbed the staircases and set off alarms at the New Museum. On the third floor, we rested to read and collect all of the printed ephemera scattered around like yesterday’s news.

And then, standing in front of Lizzie Fitch’s sculpture Pangea, I had one of those great moments in which I could look back and remember the nucleus of a good idea, formed in a bomb shelter in Portland, Oregon, and see it realized years later in a even better and bigger way.

I was anxious to get home and everything was making me think of Portland, where I hoped that crates filled with paintings would be waiting for me at the Feldman. Israel Lund will need to find the perfect house plant to accompany Elena Pankova’s paintings, and Morgan Ritter and the rest of the Feldman Preps will have to gingerly unpack and hang the new show. Oh wait, there they are. Hi guys! Here is to the new year and new shows.