ART ABOUT TOWN. On Saturday I just managed to see the Roz Chast show, Theories of Everything II, which was at the Julie Saul Gallery. It was a small show but big on laughs--a pleasure!
Once I was in 535 West 22nd Street, I randomly sampled some of the other shows in the building. A standout was the Pia Fries show, Loschaug (at CRG Gallery through March 3). I was impressed by the artist's colorful and highly textured work, in which flat spaces contrast sharply with what the gallery calls "a rich and ever-expanding vocabulary of extrusions, dollops, and layered bands." You can view samples here.
Also in the building were paintings by Ian Davis (through March 10) at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks. They struck me as having an affinity with works in the Martin Ramírez show at the American Folk Art Museum (through April 29). I don't share Jerry Saltz's feeling that Ramírez ranks as one of the greats, but I'm glad I went to see the exhibition and I'm haunted by the story of Ramírez, a Mexican who came to the United States to earn money for his family, wound up homeless, and spent the rest of his life in institutions where he spent much of his time in silence, creating works that have been seized upon by collectors. (Having recently read the graphic novel Persepolis, I think author Marjane Satrapi might have come close to a similar fate during one of her spells in Europe.) If you go to the Ramírez show, make sure you see the panel-shaped work where there's a "hidden" image of an arm (I suspect it's key) and keep an eye peeled for images that resemble female genitalia. Also, if you know what the snake at the feet of the Madonnas might signify, please let me know!
Outside the Folk Art Museum, the sadistically timed midwinter night showings of Doug Aitken's Sleepwalkers have come to an end, but more of Aitken's works can be comfortably seen at 303 gallery (525 W. 22 Street) through March 3.