— Drawing on the Utopic

Zurtopia  – Oct. 2


Paris / New York


Zürcher Gallery
33 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10012


Curated by Austin Thomas

October 2 – November 20, 2014

Brian Belott, Ákos Birkás, Regina Bogat, Matt Bollinger, Paul DeMuro, Marc DesgrandchampsMichael Dotson, Michel Huelin, Irena JurekAlix Le Méléder, David Lefebvre, Pushpamala N., Austin Thomas, Wang Keping, and Katharina Ziemke

From the Curator:

Welcome to the great state of Zurtopia where art comes from art, it is of itself and we are all in it together. I am honored to be helping Gwenolee and Bernard Zürcher, my esteemed contemporaries, organize and curate their fifth anniversary exhibition at their New York City gallery, which opened here in 2009.

What I do is very much about community (organizing salons and other events and collaborating with other artists, galleries and institutions) and the name of my gallery is Pocket Utopia (recently merged with Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden). This anniversary exhibition is a reflection of our combined social and artistic relationships. We are co-creators.

We have some amazing events scheduled to go along with this exhibition; including a Dan Tepfer-Joanna Wallfisch (piano/voice duo) concert on October 7th and another concert planned for October 13th. In addition we will have a film screening of a Marcel Duchamp documentary by Philippe Collin.

Joan Mitchell, who resided in the countryside outside of Paris and was neighbors with the Zürchers at the end of her life, is our guardian angel for this project. The exhibition will show documents from this period where Sundays were spent with Joan Mitchell and endless discussions revolved around everything and painting.

This exhibition finally gives Gwenolee and Bernard the chance to recognize a very special man and collector of Zürcher Gallery, Ahmet Ertegun, the founder and president of Atlantic Records. Mr. Ertegun was one of the most influential and ground-breaking figures associated with modern musical recording (he discovered Led Zeppelin) and he still inspires Gwenolee and Bernard (he died a month before their New York gallery opened) to seek out new and yet undiscovered talents today.

Zurtopia offers a wonderful opportunity to look hard at a group of the gallery’s artists. I am writing this statement not quite knowing what the immediate outcome will be, but am aware of the potential collective impact that this distinctive community of creators will have with Brian Belott’s innovations in collage, Ákos Birkás’s philosophy about painting a certain situation, Regina Bogat’s devotion to art making with clever variations on certain abstract themes, Matt Bollinger’s extra-large and bracing graphite drawings, Paul DeMuro’s painterly electricity, Marc Desgrandchamp’s time-fragmented paintings, Michael Dotson’s paintings of the “Disney- esque,” Michel Huelin’s relationship with nature and software, Irena Jurek’s very meaningful cat character, Alix Le Méléder’s proposals of four colors determined by the passage of the brush, David Lefebvre’s painted images cut out of magazines or downloaded from a mobile phone, Pushpamala N.’s ethnographic documentations which have been compared to Cindy Sherman, Wang Keping’s unique wooden sculptures that juxtapose vivid emotion with a marked sense of introversion, Katharina Ziemke’s pictorial treatment of current events, and me, the co-host with a small drawing. This is quite an ambitious affair, reminiscent of the Paris salons.


~ Austin Thomas

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Reflecting on a line from Frank O’Hara’s “Lunch Poems,” I am reminded of Ellen Letcher’s work.  The line is: It’s like a locomotive on the march, the season of distress and clarity…

The title of the poem is .  Ellen has titled her exhibition “Gaslight.”  I have titled this post, “The Bud Light is the present, the artist is here every afternoon,” because she stops by everyday that the gallery is open, which is Tuesday through Saturday, and she comes around 5:00pm and we always have Bud Light on hand.  She has been dropping off new drawings, lately, see directly below.  We are getting ready to set up a works on paper study center here at the gallery, slowly but surely.

Ellen is a big help to me as I get my “sea legs” here in Chelsea, which is no easy feet.  Pocket Utopias are not created in a day, but I march on.  Thanks to everyone so far who has welcomed me over here, particularly Renato from Danese/Corey Gallery, our next door neighbor.  I really believe that art is not predicated on a particular neighborhood and it’s beautiful over here in Chelsea, under the High Line!

Untitled (With Enough Force), 2012 22.5 x 16 inches Paint with collaged magazine pages

and the Bud Light, below (product placement)!

Come by friends, we have discovered that Bud light tastes great warm, seriously!! I would not lie about that one.

More images from Ellen’s Gaslight:

Ellen Letcher, “Untitled” (Girl with Tan Jumper),” 2013  20 x 24 inches Collaged magazine pages and acrylic paint on paper

Untitled (chair), 2014  28 x 16 x 16 inches gesso on chair (this piece has a very special blue splash of paint, not pictured here.)

Head, 2014 4 ½ x 4 3 ½ inches Plaster

Untitled, 2014 32 x 50 inches Magazines


These Things, 2014 18 x 12 inches Cardboard, tape, magazine collaged and China Marker

The exhibition continues through October 11th, we’ll be focusing more on Ellen’s works on paper  in the “study center” here on September 20th, Saturday, all day, So please come have a Bud Light, a warm one!!

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We unveiled new works by Bell May yesterday.  We laid them out on the floor.  Bell May’s Papier-mâché sculpture titled Liability stood on the side and watched.  

As I focused upon her new work, my thoughts turned to Wallace Stevens.  Bell May and Wallace Stevens toil together in thought.  Below on the floor Bell May and on YouTube Wallace Stevens reads.  Actively looking, making and listening at Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia, where everything is contextual or it it conditional?


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Opening with a picnic on August 20th, 6pm, Ellen Letcher at the officially merged galleries of Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia.  Pics from the artist’s studio below.  Get ready for Gaslight, Ellen Letcher’s solo exhibition of sculptures, paintings, etc., August 20th through October 11, 2014.

The exhibition title, Gaslight, comes from the American 1944 mystery-thriller film adapted from Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play Gas Light, where a murderer convinces his new wife that she is a crazy kleptomaniac who imagines things that are not there, like dimming gaslights.  The plan almost works, but the wife’s sanity is quickly restored when an inspector from Scotland Yard confirms that the lights are indeed flickering.  Above, is a detail of Ellen Letcher’s “Infinity,” where a found recycled cardboard furniture piece becomes a pedestal for a collaged painting.

An invitation to a beheading?  Another detail above, titled  “Head,” 2014 4 ½ x 4 3 ½ inches Plaster

Panels rest on the floor in “We Met,” 2014 31 x 13 x 5 ¼ inches Laminated wood with acrylic paint collaged magazine pages and glassine.

Above, hanging from a thread is “Untitled,” 2014 13 x 10 inches Collaged magazine pages with acrylic paint with tape, clip and bag

Letcher reduces her color  to a very specific palette evident in “Untitled,” 2014 75 x 62 inches  Collaged magazine pages and acrylic paint on dropcloth, cardboard and tape.

“Saint,” 2014  22 x 10 x 10 inches Plaster statuary in plastic bag.




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Family Style –  is a collective, collaborative artist-driven project fostering community and camaraderie that will be held in the space formerly known as Pocket Utopia (191 Henry Street, LES, NYC).  On view July 22 – August 24, hours, Wed – Sun, 12 – 6pm and featuring; Ky AndersonMeg AtkinsonLiz AtzbergerJohn AvellutoInna BabaevaEmily BergerAnnie BlazejackMaria BrittonMelissa CapassoGinny CaseyLauren CollingsJonathan CowanWilliam CrumpKevin Andrew CurranGeorgia ElrodSessa EnglundRyan Michael FordMatthew Neil GehringEnrico GomezRachael GorchovLibby HartleJay HendersonFran Holstrom,…ok, admittingly linking every artist is going to take 2 more hours, but they are all amazing and this list is a testament to Julie’s skill of organizing and the list goes on unlinked; Mary Judge, Mona Saeed Kamal, Leslie Kerby, Wendy Klemperer, William Eckhardt Kohler, Ellen Letcher, Geddes Levenson, Amy Lincoln, Meg Lipke, Rebecca Litt, JJ Manford, Chris Moss, Seth Mulvey, Rebecca Murtaugh, Fran O’Neill, Alex Paik, Jamie Powell, James Prez, Ben Pritchard, Jenna Ransom, Alexandra Rubinstein, Anne Russinof, Karen Schifano, Jennifer Shepard, Julia Sinelnikova, Elisa Soliven, Maxwell Stevens, Austin Thomas, Kati Vilim, Maria Walker, Albert Weaver, Rachael Wren and Becky Yazdan.

The show, project, exhibition with purpose has lots of events, see list here and attend: https://www.facebook.com/events/802464473121430

and Julie Torres:

Julie, “Sale,” 2014 – https://www.facebook.com/julie.torres.75685/media_set?set=a.10154291090785187.1073741833.807740186&type=1&l=87d9839f07


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On August 3, 2007

Pocket Utopia is a place that is ever evolving.  On Friday, August 3, 2007, I wrote about Pocket Utopia as a “social space” about to be built.  Roger Hodge, above stands in the unrenovated space taking pictures on his new iPhone (which had just come out).

Pocket Utopia started on Flushing Avenue in Bushwick at a  former beauty salon and now a “democratic Bushwick drinkery.”  The weather was hotter on that day and I was preparing for the first official show in the space, The Pierogi Show, as I am preparing now for Ellen Letcher’s show, the first official exhibition at the Pocket Utopia over on 22nd Street.  Back then, I didn’t have a designated studio space and therefore was headed to 60 Wall Street and it’s cool air to draw.  My studio was everywhere.

I have just returned from Ellen’s studio, where we have made our final selections for Gaslight, opening at Hansel And Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia on August 20th.

Ellen’s studio.

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Now deinstalled – Debra Ramsay’s, “Seeing Through : Landscape As Time,” 2014 acrylic on silk 95 inches high x 41 inches.

It was a luminous landscape of a pedestrian nature.

The grid of time gone through.

It was a change from seeing the usual and now the glass is empty…or half -full.  We packed this piece up a lot faster than it went up and now it is off to Brazil to reside in the collection of Vivian De Cerqueira Leite of Superbacana, which appropriately means “super cool.”  We at Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia think it is and was…see you all on August 20th for Ellen Letcher’s solo exhibition Gaslight.

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I recommend that you take a walk around midnight to Times Square.  Right now, Chris Doyle has transformed the electronic billboards into a film, titled “Bright Canyon,” and it plays every night throughout the month of July from 11:57pm to midnight.  Birds, turtles and butterflies in technicolor scurry across huge screens, leaves fall, a river flows and the entire area feels worlds away.  It really is magic.  I’m going to go see it again!  Below a few photos.  (Participating screens include and the contrast is beautiful; the ABC Super Sign, Bank of America, City Outdoor, the  JVC Screen, NASDAQ, Viacom North & South (SL Green Realty), and Thomson Reuters.)

More images can be seen on Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/timessquarenyc/sets/72157645484407955/

Birds on two screens from Chris Doyle’s film “Bright Canyon,” 2014

Sandwiched between bright lights, Chris Doyle’s “Bright Canyon,” 2014

Floating above NASDAQ………Chris Doyle.

Chris Doyle is a Brooklyn-based, interdisciplinary artist and has exhibited throughout the U.S. and internationally. He creates both temporary and permanent projects for the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the U.S. Ambassadors’ residences in Sweden and Australia. He is the recipient of a 2014 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellowship!

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over on 22nd Street!  Merging, moving, expanding!!!

Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia

Karina Aguilera Skvirsky: Proposals for an Ecuadorian Pavilion in Venice
window installation: Seeing Through : Landscape As Time, by Debra Ramsay
June 25 – August 1, 2014

Opening Reception: Wednesday, June 25, 6-8pm

Gallery Summer Hours: Tuesday–Friday, 11am–6 pm

Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, “Proposal for an Ecuadorian Pavilion in Venice,” 2013 photo-collage on archival Inkjet paper,          17 x 22 inches

Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden and Pocket Utopia are pleased to announce an exhibition of photographic collages with video presentations by Karina Aguilera Skvirsky along with a window installation of painted silk squares by Debra Ramsay, titled “Seeing Through : Landscape As Time.”

In July 2013, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky went to the Venice Biennale wandering the Giardini looking in vain for the Ecuadorian Pavilion.  The result of her search is a remedy in the form of photographic proposals that are experimental, creative and critical.  Hung together, Aguilera Skvirsky presents precisely cut photographs of existing Ecuadorian architecture on full-color photographic color bands.

By precisely cutting and collaging architectural photographs together with color, Aguilera Skvirsky uses this pictorial space to comment on several different topical ideas including; colonialism, migration, environmental concerns and border issues.  Proposals for an Ecuadorian Pavilion in Venice are appealing and compelling, striking in their simplicity, with shapes bisected by strong verticals and horizontals, Aguilera Skvirsky presents a strong case for a pavilion of possibilities.  Aguilera Skvirsky will also present a video titled “Tacos,” part of an on-going, blog-inspired view of the exotic to some, vernacular to most vignettes that seek to present more, like her proposals.

Karina Aguilera Skvirsky participated in the 29th Sao Paolo Biennial in 2010 and has exhibited at Instituto Cervantes, Rome, Italy (2013), The Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ (2013), Stephan Stoyanov Gallery, NYC (2013), DPM Gallery, Guayaquil, Ecuador (2012), La Ex-Culpable, Lima, Peru (2010), Scaramouche Art, NYC, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, CT (2007) and at El museo del barrio, NYC and is the recent recipient of 2015 Fulbright Award.

In the window, Debra Ramsay will present “Seeing Through : Landscape As Time,” a grid-like installation on transparent Juan silk.  Each square representing a color found on a walk repeated each season, organized by seasons, on transparent silk, allowing the viewer to look through it and layer the actual landscape with the one transposed from its origin 200 miles NW of the city.

Debra Ramsay, “Seeing Through : Landscape As Time,” (study) 2014 acrylic on silk, dim. var.

This is Debray Ramsay’s second project at the gallery where a direct experience of color in nature is recorded and then the color is computer-mixed.  Ramsay’s most recent solo show titled MAT/tam, was curated  by Lucio Pozzi at Palazzo Costa, in Mantova, Italy. In 2013, Ramsay was awarded a residency at the Golden Foundation and at the BAU Institute in Otranto Italy in 2012.

Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia
511 w. 22nd Street
New York, New York 10011

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Pocket Utopia
Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden

LES location: 191 Henry Street between Clinton and Jefferson Streets in New York City.

Drew Beattie: Betty re Testers 2

Opening Reception, Friday, May 30, 2014, 6pm–8pm
Exhibition runs through Friday, June 27th
Gallery hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 11am–6 pm
 Drew Beattie, Carrier   2005  oil, collage, bondo and foil on canvas   13 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches

Drew Beattie: Betty re Testers 2, follows Betty re Testers presented at Hansel and Gretel Picture + Pocket Utopia in Chelsea.  Beattie builds canvases and painted sculptures, sometimes working collaboratively with Ben Shepard, under the moniker DBBS.  This current collaboration builds on his past collaboration with Daniel Davidson in which they referred to themselves as simply Beattie & Davidson, but there is nothing simple about Drew Beattie’s solo or collaborative works, in fact he embraces a conflicted hybrid that is current, alive and looks like vibrant painting.  Beattie’s style is polymorphous and his references are both mesmerizing and uncanny.

With paint and a range of materials, Beattie aims at diverse and multiple identities; he subdivides his voice with purpose.  Conflict is ushered into a place of normalcy where it is ok to present spontaneous moments of discovery and enthrallment.  Beattie’s paintings and sculptures are pasted together with bondo, mashed with collage and spin a chain of elements into multiple meanings. These elements or movements are often deployed on small store-bought canvases, becoming compressions that represent Beattie’s interior life.

This is the last exhibition at Pocket Utopia on Henry Street before we move into Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden on 22nd Street.  Drew Beattie: Betty re Testers 2 adds fuel to our combined forward movement, giving deeper meaning to the “we” of universal co-creative collaboration.  Beattie’s work indicates that this is a good place to make art.

This exhibition will also includes Bell May‘s sculptures in window gallery!!
Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden = Pocket Utopia at 191 Henry Street, NYC 10002 (btw Clinton & Jefferson Streets) Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-6pm.  (917) 400-3869 hanselandgretelpicturegarden.com
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