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Wouldn’t You Know?: Notes on "Favorite Thing"

by Paul D'Agostino

There are many things to ponder as favorites in the humble sumptuousness of Favorite Thing, a group show at Amos Eno curated by Chris Esposito.

Much ado about materiality is one way to parse the show’s concerns. Gleeful ado about material muchness is another. The materials at play include, collectively, ceramic and paint, paper and foam, shoestrings and ink, plastic and hair, staples and wax, and of course, darts. And of course, yet other things besides.

Also, all five featured artists – Don Voisine, Glenn Goldberg, Jim Condron, Jim Lee, and Chris Esposito – use wood in one way or another, in one piece or another. So wouldn’t you know it, there’s plenty of wood in the show. Maybe ‘woodworker’ is a more malleable moniker than we generally mean it to be.

"Favorite Thing" is on view through July 9 at Amos Eno Gallery at 56 Bogart in Bushwick.

So now, how about a selection of a handful of these fine things?

Well, an awareness that Jim Condron’s smallish orb-ject, Like a crash of plates from the sky, quotes a poem by Derek Walcott in its title allows us to look upon it as a couple of free verses, one rolling atop the other, separate yet continuous like an alt-mediated form of enjambement.

Condron, Jim, "Like a crash of plates from the sky," 2020
. Acrylic, wood, plastic, plaster, 6 x 5 x 3 inches.

The way its larger upper form interacts with the lower one with just enough asymmetry to create a vision of slight slippage aligns well with Don Voisine’s formal slippages. His painting on panel Channel, for instance, operates with such patent chromatic balance that its central forms, barely off-center, seem to wink at you while feigning to slide to the middle. Wink back.

Voisine, Don. "Channel," 2021. Oil on wood panel, 32 x 32 inches. Courtesy of McKenzie Fine Art.

Chris Esposito’s Form #22 (OSB) toys also with viewers’ notions of ostensible balance by balancing basically everything, say, at a macro glance, while letting the visual richness of marginally inconsistent surfaces and shapes lure lookers into the angular tooth and grit of its large central cruciform stamp, a curiously exacting quartet of composite board arrows pointing inward.

Esposito, Chris. "Form #22 (OSB)," 2023. Osb, encaustic and foam, 39 ¼” x 36 ¼”.

Such blockily assembled logic is everywhere present, too, in Glenn Goldberg’s Cabin, a deftly constructed notched-dowel dwelling of sorts that registers at once as a dream home for the transcendentalist dreamers among us, and as an evocation of the potential bliss of simplicity and remoteness, and as a handmade ode to the enduring brilliance of a favorite toy set – mine too, Goldberg, mine too.

Goldberg, Glenn. "Cabin," 2023. Wood, cardboard, paint, pencil, 5” x 5 1/2” x 3”. 

Jim Lee’s Untitled (Pipe and Highway) brings us full circle, at least here, back to circles. It’s a perfectly geometrically imperfect mini-tondo of sorts that scans almost as a cross-sectional disk of a tree trunk, or as a peeker’s window punched through a wood knot, or as a strange late-material-culture type of post-natural geode, or as something just purplishly shimmery enough to imply gemological origins. A highway? A pipe? No clue, really, but ‘ceci n’est pas sans mystique.’

Lee, Jim. "Untitled (Pipe and Highway)," 2023. Purple primer, raw pigment and reflective glass beads on nylon over wood with screws and staples, 19 1/4 x 20 1/8 x 2 1/4 inches. Courtesy of Nicelle Beauchene Gallery.

Well, wouldn’t you know it? All these pieces incorporate some kind of wood.

In closing, then, I guess I would have to say that one of my favorite things about Favorite Thing is the omnipresence of wood.

And that’s my much ado about something.

— Paul D’Agostino, PhD is an artist, writer, curator, and translator. You can find him on Instagram @pauldagostinostudio.


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