The Schmooze

Jewish Art or Jewish Kitsch?

Walking around the loosely organized “Jew York” show at the UNTITLED gallery on the Lower East Side and the Zach Feuer Gallery in Chelsea, I began to feel a slight sense of unease. Was it the mezuzah that had mysteriously appeared on the doorpost of UNTITLED? Or the collection of men’s suits from the venerable Orchard Street suit dealers Global International that were also available for purchase in the front entrance of the Zach Feuer Gallery?

The premise of the show sounded honest enough — a group exhibition of over 75 artists spread over two contemporary art galleries, surveying the art of Jews who reside in New York City, or who are connected to New York City, or who are just Jewish. Despite the obvious connection that Jews have with art, UNTITLED provided a tome-like educational essay by Sy Colen extolling the lineage of Jewish artists. Yet something was amiss.

UNTITLED seemed to have most of the younger artists, with the work hung according to color palette. Greg Goldberg contributed a small well-executed gouache abstraction. Asher Penn, who reminds me of Dash Snow without the insane drug use, contributed a yellow t-shirt with the word Aleph screen printed in Hebrew. Keren Cytter displayed a stack of 30 ballpoint drawings of what we can assume are Jews, or at least images of a person with dogs. In the entrance David Levine presented his father’s portraits of Mark Rothko’s studio.

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Jewish Art or Jewish Kitsch?

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