BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Hopping off the L train at Lorimer Street, one promptly encounters a confounding yet aesthetically pleasing storefront façade — a luminous sunset originating from inside an otherwise unremarkable setting. This installation piece, Sunset (2009), is one of the new works by Brooklyn-based artist Glen Baldridge featured in his current exhibition at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in Williamsburg, on view Friday through Sunday and by appointment through June 7.
Inside the gallery, Baldridge presents a satirical critique of the proliferating role of consumerism within our culture by shrewdly coupling consumer goods with such motifs as sorrow and death through a multitude of mediums, including installation, print, drawing, and sculpture.
The “Lucky Sevens” series (2008), which contains perhaps the most explicit artworks in the show, includes seven silk-screened images from a catalog of coffins, each overlaid with an ethereal surface resembling the coating one scratches off a lottery ticket. On a basic level, each image functions as an appropriated still life, offering contrived depictions of coffins accompanied by such objects as reading glasses, candles, and tea glasses. But Baldridge pushes further, as the scratch-off surfaces recall the sensation of frantically searching for the nearest coin, accompanied by unrealistic hopes of a miraculous, life-altering event. After the final remnants of the silvery scratch-off trickle to the ground, the only “prize” the contestant has won is a reminder of his own mortality.
The End’s Not Near It’s Here (2009) communicates a similar theme, again through a unique and witty approach. The work takes its title from the series-finale episode of the teenage drama The O.C., but Baldridge interprets the statement more literally. In the work, he has arranged bullet holes taken from automotive decals to spell the title phrase. Despite the distress implied by the bullets, the cursive composition of the letters — as well as the color-shift pigment in the background, which emits gleaming and alternating hues of blue and green reminiscent of classic hot rod sparkle — impart a certain glamour and even elegance to the work. When you examine it more closely, though, the arsenal of bullet holes gradually overtakes the pop culture references and directs the piece’s message back to finality and death.
Lottery tickets return in Collection (2004–09), filling a five-gallon glass carboy sitting atop milk crates and encased by an outer layer of glass, calling to mind the readymade, conceptual sculptures of Jeff Koons’s early career. Here, Baldridge lightheartedly showcases losing lottery tickets, valueless objects most consumers discard, while also calling to mind consumerism’s ability to alter one’s emotional state — the anticipation of a winning ticket and the disappointment of a losing one. It is this meeting of consumerism, desire, and even mortality that Baldridge explores effectively throughout his show.
Below, the artist’s picks of other exhibitions to see this weekend in New York:
1. Ruby Sky Stiler: High and Low Relief at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, through June 14
“Stiler uses foam, acrylic resin, and hot glue to piece together faux pottery shards with conflicting iconography in her sculptures of classical vessels and reliefs. The installation is completed with a cartoon version of an attic floor that brings to mind someone’s ramshackle, homemade history museum.”
2. Ryan Wallace: Minutes to Midnight at Wild Project, through July 4
“Wallace plays with melodrama and theatricality in his backlit window installation displaying various, predetermined doomsday dates of past and future. Drawings inside depict grave rubbings with potential death dates of the artist. Wallace seems to tell us we are all going to die but doesn’t say exactly when — and maybe he wonders if it really matters anyway.”
3. Hilary Harnischfeger at Rachel Uffner Gallery, through June 21
“In this installation of wall pieces and sculptural objects made from layers of dip-dyed paper, plaster, glass and crystal shards, and pieces of rock and quartz, Harnischfeger creates fossil-like works from some unknown past that urge us to examine every inch in search of clues to their construction.”
4. Gary Hume: Yardwork at Matthew Marks Gallery (22nd Street), through June 27
“Industrial paint applied in thick relief creates solid edges separating fields of color in Hume’s depictions of rural life as seen through a window. Images of barn doors, birds, and flowers (plus girls with ponytails) are rendered in slightly unusual color combinations with high-gloss surfaces. Simple, thoughtful, and beautiful.”
5. Keiko Narahashi: Picturehood at Hudson Franklin Gallery, through June 6
“Objects become flattened and pictures take on a three-dimensional semi-functionality in this work. Ceramic slabs cut out in the shape of found objects, such as chairs, bottles, and a child’s shoe, hang on the walls, while Narahashi’s simple sculptural forms are found in living terrariums and delicate, furniture-like constructions.”