Massey Klein Gallery on the Lower East Side is reopening after the lockdown with two engaging exhibitions: Claire Lieberman & Louis Reith: Elemental, alongside new paintings by Bethany Czarnecki in her showing titled enoument.
Art Zealous caught up with artist Bethany Czarnecki and Massey Klein Gallery owners Ryan Massey and Garrett Klein – the way we all catch up now, over Zoom (you can see the interview here). In the interview, we discuss Czarnecki’s work and process for her latest body of work, and then delve into the logistics of running and maintaining a gallery space with Massey and Klein (partners in both business and marriage) before, during, and after the lockdown.
Bethany Czarnecki’s paintings fill the gallery’s intimate east gallery with vibrant abstract paintings that are quite honestly a delight to engage with after our long, collective stretch of confinement. The paintings tease mystical landscapes and simultaneously suggest the female form. Her paintings are warm and inviting with large, smoothly blended areas contrasting with precise linear edges.
Czarnecki says that her process is to start at the edges of the canvas and work inwards. Czarnecki’s work pays homage to Helen Frankenthaler and Georgia O’Keefe she is an admirer of both artists. Czarnecki’s sensual use of line and edge recalls O’Keefe’s flower paintings. While O’Keefe incredulously denied the sexuality of her flower paintings Czarnecki embraces the idea saying that she doesn’t separate her femininity and motherhood from her paintings.
Czarnecki works spontaneously and not from preparatory sketches. The imaginative compositions capture that spontaneity, the paintings appear fresh and are not overworked or self-conscious. Czarnecki has a background in sociology and finance and considerers herself a self-taught painter. A self-taught sophistication that forgoes the naïveté often associated with self-taught artists. The exhibition features five large paintings and one smaller work on paper. Czarnecki has previously exhibited at the Katonah Museum and Amy Simon Fine Art in Connecticut.
Also on view at Masey Klein are works by Claire Lieberman & Louis Reith in an exhibition titled Elemental. Lieberman’s beautifully precise and crafted marble sculptures are combined with Reith’s wood-constructed paintings and smaller works on paper. The two artists’ works blend so well together, we thought the exhibition was the work of one artist. Both artists are masters at the craft of their art, and their visual motifs blend together wonderfully. Leiberman’s highly polished black marble sculptures are serious fun and play off the curved shapes of Reith’s wood-constructed paintings.
Both exhibitions can be visited in person or online. Massey Klein Gallery contracted the services of Artland to create a virtual 3D experience that gives the best virtual experience of viewing an exhibition that we have seen. Visit the gallery’s website for the virtual experience or visit their scheduling page to schedule an in-person visit.
For now, the gallery is open by appointment only.
The exhibits run through August 1st. Massey Klein is located at 124 Forsyth Street, New York, NY.