Once in a while I get invited to one of those classic old Soho/Chelsea artist parties, and last night was the 101st birthday of artist May Wilson (who actually passed on some 20 years ago), hosted by her son, Bob Wilson, who was kind enough to introduce me to his collection of Ray Johnson postcards and miscellaneous works of art â€“ including the famous portrait of Elvis that travels from gallery to museum. Unfortunately that day I woke up with one of those paralyzing headaches â€“ the ones I usually deal with by lying on my couch until itâ€™s over. It didnâ€™t seem like I would be in any shape to attendâ€¦ but I thought this time I would try a different therapy for the headache, as my friends Bobby Buecker and Maude Boltz invited me to a gallery-hopping session in the afternoon. So I went out, chasing the pain with fresh air, good company and visual stimuli.
The outing started at Bobbyâ€™s loft on West Broadway, a bastion of the old Soho, still raw as they come, with walls covered with his own art (darling boy of the early sixties art scene), a few Ray Johnson wrapping packages stamped by the United States Post Office and framed under glass, the space filled with Bueckerâ€™s mysteriously guarded, eccentric self-made harpsichords, all wrapped and covered in blankets, sculptures in their own right, as well as rarely played musical instruments. Maude joined us, bringing a bevy of birthday balloons for the party, which I carried all afternoon throughout our gallery visit.
Remarkably, the sampling of art I saw spanned all styles, as in post-classic music.In Soho we visited Leah Durnerâ€™s colorful abstracts, in Chelsea we saw Robert Yasudaâ€™s iridescent paintings whose color changes as you move around them, Ginny Foxâ€™s striped paintings textured on unexpected rectangular plastic boxes, David Rankinâ€™s stripes on canvas and paper; surprise: a little room furnished with carpets, lamps and odd shaped bottles with psychological wisdom messages imparted by 75-year old Etta Ehrlich; â€˜Forces of natureâ€™ by Ron Klein who uses natural seed pods, pine cones, branches and other dried natural found objects in combination with metal, wax and rubber, painstakingly pinned to the gallery walls in clever shapes; the huge white constructs of Mia Westerlund Roosen, in giant mop shapes or other oversized household objects in disarray; Lucas Samarasâ€™ collection of iMovie portraits of mostly mature, intelligent-looking individuals (no vacuous pretty faces here), posing for the movie camera, not moving much, but enough, which reminded me of an earlier video work by Bill Viola where a group of people kept completely still for a long time, until you might notice the almost imperceptible movement of a hand or an eye. At Bill Wilsonâ€™s party, I noticed a woman with bright orange hair and when someone introduced me I realized that was Jeanne Claude accompanied by Christo â€“ I should have known because her hair was the color of The Gates from a couple of years ago in Central Park. When I returned home, the headache was completely gone. I should try art therapy more often.