Synchronicity at Columbia

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Up at Columbia’s LeRoy Neiman Gallery MFA student Nora Griffin – well-known already downtown and before her enrollment as a writer on the Brooklyn Rail and an exhibiting artist – has organized and is taking part in a show of quirky, whimsical, often belligerently casual abstraction, “Fool’s House,” closing Friday. The title derives from a painting by Jasper Johns who is a point of reference, perhaps, to various works on display in which language and gesture fuse, as in Griffin’s own “Of Bricks…Who Built it?” a piece that insouciantly wraps itself around a wall, taking its text from a John Ashbery poem. “Fool’s House” brings together two of Ms. Griffin’s fellow MFA students at Columbia, Jim Lee and Becky Brown, who is enamored of Richard Tuttle-like, studiedly scrappy juxtapositions of painted found forms; two early-to-mid-career artists, Peter Gallo, another devotee of rough-hewn textual pieces, and Josephine Halvorson, a master of understated trompe l’oeil precisionism; and the eminence grise of this group, Ron Gorchov, who is represented with a typical saddle-shaped support sporting an iconic pair of amorphic glyphs.

In a neat coincidence (though maybe higher forces are at play, or at least this is synchronicity) the penultimate day of the show, October 27, sees a lecture appearance at the adjacent Miller Theater of Mr. Tuttle, that dean of oddball slightness. “Refiguring the Spiritual” will also include a dialogue between this renowned postminimalist painter and sculptor and Professor of Religion Mark Taylor. This exchange is the first in a new series of collaborations between Columbia’s Institute of Religion, Culture and Public Life and the School of the Arts Visual Arts Program. The event is free and starts at 6.30pm, 2960 Broadway at West 116th Street.

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