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Time Out New York, June 10 - 16, 2010
Jam-packed Saturday
Make the most of the best day of the week.
By Cristina Velocci

"... Wandering around a Civil War-era warehouse would be cool enough by itself, but the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (499 Van Brunt St at Beard St; 718-596-2507, bwac.org; through Sun 13) also happens to be a 25,000-square-foot exhibition space. This is your last weekend to view more than 1,200 paintings, drawings, sculptures and mixed media by 225 local artists that make up the exhibition Nailed, including Janet Rothholz's tribal masks and Faces, Ann Zuckerman's psychedelic painting of abstract visages."


Ceramic Masks and Heads
Donnell Public Library, August 12 - 30, 2007
Reviewed by http://tsimbler.livejournal.com

21 August 2007 @ 02:42 pm Janet Rothholz: Ceramic Masks and Heads

If you'll be in Midtown Manhattan before Aug 31, stop at the Donnell Public Library (20 W 53, between 5 & 6, across from MOMA).

After entering, turn around and you'll see, on each side of the entrance, an Exhibition of Ceramic Masks and Heads by Janet Rothholz.

They are fascinating in their own right, but I think the special appeal to me was the illusion of age. As friends know, given a choice between a shiny object and one with some rust and a missing corner, I tend to covet the one with the rust and the missing corner. (I also worry a lot less than most people about getting scratches and dings in my own work).

Rothholz' pieces give the impression they are ancient and South American, or West African - or? and then you realize that most of them clearly were not buried in the sacking of a village after years of service and dug up 2000 years later, they usually have clear details, and there's no slavish attention to the "A" word (authenticity...shh!!!)

One piece's title put it together for me: "Modern Antiquity". As a builder of obsolete musical instruments, I relate to this. The artists words "timeless ambiguity" are perhaps not quite right. My sense was of "multi-time ambiguity", because there is a real sense of time, of many times, of passage of time. A little black dress is "timeless". These are of many times, and of no time.

Time is what they evoke most strongly. Also joy, suffering, life coming and going, all those things that time brings and end up etched into our own faces; these are faces of many people and no people, of protectors and tormenters, often all wrapped up in a single work.

My favorites - for no other reason than personal resonance, were:

"Charred Mask", which true to the name appears first to be of wood that had been charred. Again, there's no attempt to deceive, you quickly see it is stonework; but the sense of wood remains.

"Trophy" - except that, putting that title on a tiny head is a bit grisly (the work is not)

"Dreamer", different from the others in being an entire human figure, not just a head or face: still the face reflects the inward-directed posture of the piece.

"Untitled" Head 2005 - the one sitting on the glass blocks - because it strikes me as a self portrait of Janet (or is that just the Adderall talking?)

I used to say I was not a fan of mixing styles, having been critical of most such things in Jewish music; (e.g. cantorial disco) but I've come to realize that in fact I love it, and it's a truly American sensibility reflecting a country populated by people whose main shared basis for nationalism is that we have no shared basis for nationalism. But don't get me started on why Europeans and Americans don't play Jewish music from the turn of the 20th century the same way.

What I don't like is the pervasive self-proclaimed "revolutionary" art and music that comes from a self-conscious and poorly done blend of two stereotyped styles (no, I don't think Irving Fields is brilliant. I think he's schtick. Schtick is fine. It's not revolutionary. Nor does art or music have to be.)

Rothholz' pieces have none of that. There is a clear style connecting them, and it is not one that can be stated as "a blend of this and that". There's probably more pre-Columbian American and West African in there than, say, pre-Christian Baltic; however the influences are well integrated into this artists own voice, expressed through the work of her hands.