I don’t want these to get lost in the shuffle so — lucky you! — it’s a weekend update at Fleen, as we review Scott Campbell and Leontine Greenberg‘s show Adrift, which runs at My Plastic Heart in New York for the next four weeks.
The theme of Adrift is floating, flying, wafting, and every other gerund you can think of that involves being aloft; I came because I love Campbell’s work, but once there was thoroughly gobsmacked by the delicate, insanely detailed work of Greenberg. The washes of color and loving details to her animal subjects would look right at home in an earnest, Caldecott-winning book with enormous pages to allow the art room to breathe. You may notice in the photos how Greenberg even cut the borders of her sheets in curlicue shapes; from a meter or two, it looks ragged and torn, up close it’s incredibly precise and cleanly cut.
Campbell, as usual, brings his cartoony-on-the-surface, insanely-nuanced-up-close aesthetic to his pieces; unlike Greenberg’s work within a predominantly pastel palette, Campbell went to the extremes of color, then muted things down. The overall effect isn’t so much “watered down color” or “grey wash over everything” as much as “this was a riot of color that has faded with time over the decades”. Although the designs that lurk in Campbell’s brain couldn’t possibly have been drawn 75 or 100 years ago, they present as if they were drawn on the walls of a child’s room — playful and joyous and optimistic — and rather than be subject to museum-quality conservatorship, they’ve been enjoyed for a generation or four (and, more than likely, had a mess or two wiped off their surface).
The only downside to the show (and this was purely a downside for me, not for Greenberg or Campbell) was the veritable sea of red pins next to title cards; from the moment the show opened I had sighted at least a half-dozen pieces that I would have bought in a heartbeat, but which were already spoken for. In fact, a very nice young woman told me later that she was in line behind me to purchase the very piece I had just bought, no doubt leading to a ripple effect of disappointed buyers having to settle for a painting that was only 98.816 on the Delight-o-Meter instead of 99.382. But with a sellout for both artists virtually assured, we will somehow soldier on and swallow our disappointment for their sake. I know, I know, sucks to be us.
Adrift runs until 13 December at My Plastic Heart, 210 Forsyth St (corner of E. Houston) in Manhattan. Photos below the cut.
Leontine Greenberg — most of Greenberg’s pieces featured a fair amount of space between painting and frame; the photos have been cropped to emphasize her art.