Tuesday, August 22, 2006

James J. Williams, III

We are back from our staycation, during which we had minimal computer access, during which we put in serious studio time, during which we caught up on many shows (see previous posting).

In our Chelsea crawl, James J Williams III caught our eyes at Envoy Gallery, a rising favorite on our list, for its optimistic program of cool, emerging artists. James' installation of drawings, paintings, furniture, photos, clothing, and bric-a-brac largely suggests an art practice based on living life: dating girls, collecting objects, drinking Scotch, and potentially harming his feet by wearing worn out shoes.

Then again, James makes drawings, paintings, and photos, which seems like evidence of a "trying" to make art (rather than just living it). Plus, his list of artists suggests an elevation of the artist above other people.

But then again, the casual execution of the work - spontaneous, shoegazer, scrappy - proves that James makes little departure - no trip from life into art. And by mingling his pictures with his belongings in a somewhat nonhierarchical manner, it seems a level playing field.

James seems a sensitive, dandied, and eccentric young man. But he's still a young man. In a twist on Jack Pierson's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Part II," itself a twist on Carl Andre, James covers a wall with names and phone numbers of women; we assume these were trysts and one night stands. Couple this with the Scotch and, were he older, he might seem like a drunken womanizer. But his diminutive drawings and general aesthetic of a shrug, rather than a grand gesture, keeps him charming.

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