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Five galleries worth visiting this spring

Scope work by blue-chip artists at Sperone Westwater and surrealist goodies at Frosch & Portman.

By Howard Halle
Photograph: Courtesy of Brennan & Griffin

Brennan & Griffin

Since opening last year, Brennan & Griffin gallery has offered a tasty mix of West Coast and local artists across a variety of genres, from painting and photography to video installation and sound sculpture. This spring brings shows by Angeleno Kristin Calabrese (Apr 10–May 7), an artist-curator known for her oil-on-canvas renderings of homeless people and abject, abandoned interiors; and veteran '90s painter Mary Weatherford (May 15–June 19), whose work is a compelling if unlikely mix of New York School Abstraction, left-coast mysticism and seaside souvenir kitsch. 120 East Broadway between Pike and Rutgers Sts, sixth floor (212-227-0115, Wed–Sun noon–6pm.

Photograph: Courtesy of Frosch & Portman

Frosch & Portmann

This space was opened in September by co-owners Eva Frosch and hp Portmann, who both got their start in Zurich, Switzerland—where Portmann still resides as the curator of a private collection. That leaves Frosch, a former director at Williamsburg's Jack the Pelican Presents gallery, minding a shop that features young contemporary artists who gravitate toward the surreal. Case in point is the upcoming exhibition by George Jenne (Mar 10–May 1), whose figurative tableaux have a definite wax-museum/B-horror-movie feel that seems to take inspiration from Duchamp's Etant Donn, Paul McCarthy's butt-plug Santas and Hans Bellmer's perverse poupes in equal measure. 53 Stanton St between Eldridge and Forsyth Sts (646-266-5994, Wed–Sun noon–6pm.

Photograph: courtesy of the artist; DODGEgallery and Charles Mayer


This elegant bi-level space around the corner from the New Museum is the brainchild of Boston transplant Kristen Dodge, who started it last fall with a slate of artists (mainly fellow New Englanders or people somehow connected to Beantown) whose work tends toward three-dimensional media. The artists currently taking up the gallery's early-spring slot—Jane Fox Hipple and Robert De Saint Phalle (both through Mar 27) are good examples. Though Hipple's metier is painting, she introduces all sorts of physical interruptions—holes, nail heads—in the otherwise straightforwardly abstract surfaces of her canvases. De Saint Phalle, meanwhile, creates ensembles in which utilitarian or discarded objects—a rusted oil barrel, a pole lamp, a bench from a museum—are paired with abstract sculptural elements in unexpected ways. 15 Rivington St between Bowery and Chrystie St (212-228-5122, Tue–Sat 11am–6pm; Sun noon–6pm.

Photograph: Courtesy of Sperone Westwater

Sperone Westwater

If you haven't yet, you really owe it to yourself to visit this megagallery on the Bowery. Although the space has been a longtime fixture on New York's art scene, it's a recent arrival to the LES, having moved to its Lord Norman Foster–designed building just last fall. The edifice itself is a work of art, featuring a ginormous elevator that doubles as a moving gallery space, but it would be a mistake to overlook Sperone's blue-chip roster of artists, including Malcom Morley, Bruce Nauman and William Wegman. Taking up space through March 26: Evan Penny, whose hyperrealistic busts are distorted as if viewed in a fun-house mirror; and Emil Lukas, whose allover abstractions are often created in unorthodox ways—by using, for instance, insect larvae, which wriggle through paint and ink to create sinuous patterns of lines. 257 Bowery between E Houston and Stanton Sts (212-999-7337, Tue–Sat 10am–6pm.

Photograph: Courtesy of Lu Magnus At Labratory

Lu Magnus Art Laboratory + Salon

As its name suggests, this space styles itself as more than just a gallery. Indeed, part of its mission statement is to mix up the world of art with other forms of creative expression, including fashion and food. Still, its main focus is art, even if its current stable of artists is small: Just three, including Libya-born Fawad Khan. There's no food-or-fashion mash-up in his solo show (March 25–May 1), but you can expect delicately rendered gouaches and collage, featuring cars that seem to be exploding or deconstructing themselves amid flying traffic cones and abstract flourishes. 55 Hester St between Essex and Ludlow Sts (212-677-6555, Wed–Sun noon–6pm

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