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Robert R. Shane

Robert R. Shane is Associate Curator at the University Art Museum, Albany, NY, and a frequent contributor to the Brooklyn Rail. He received his PhD in Art History & Criticism from Stony Brook University.

In Conversation

GLADYS NILSSON with Robert R. Shane

Star Trek and opera are among the many sources that have informed Gladys Nilsson’s hilariously irreverent paintings and collages since her time as a Hairy Who? (1966–1969) member. Erotic and grotesque characters engaged in humorous plots and subplots populate her densely packed, carnivalesque scenes in acrylic or watercolor.

In Conversation

TORKWASE DYSON with Robert R. Shane

Torkwase Dyson speaks with Robert R. Shane about her relationship to distance, environmental sustainability, and how Black American history influences her artwork.

In Conversation

Edra Soto with Robert R. Shane

Robert R. Shane speaks with Edra Soto about the artist's early love for painting, the evolution of her installation work, and the inspiration she finds caring for her mother in Puerto Rico.

In Conversation

Noel W. Anderson with Robert R. Shane

Robert R. Shane speaks with Noel W. Anderson about what happens when Blackness falls into abstraction.

Totally Dedicated: Leonard Contino, 1940-2016

Like a retablo in electric hues, a wall of 17 abstract paintings (1966-1977) by Leonard Contino arranged in three tiers, towers over the viewer and echoes in the reflection of the polished floor of the Dorsky Museum.

Odessa Straub: There’s my chair I put it there

Throughout the exhibition the restorative and sexual relationships evoked in these works reveal a fragile yet perseverant Eros. Straub’s artwork reconceives sexuality as an intimate mode of living that is receptive and responsive, tender and creative, and as vulnerable as it is giving.

Silke Otto-Knapp: In the waiting room

Silke Otto-Knapp’s exhibition ecstatically blurs your inward perception of movement with your real locomotion through the gallery as your eyes and body move with the paintings.

Estefania Velez Rodriguez: Time’s Passage is probably an Illusion

We feel disorientation and ecstasy as we enter Estefania Velez Rodriguez’s large-scale landscapes in Time’s Passage is probably an Illusion. Illuminated by fluorescent oil and spray paint, the pattern-rich paintings strip away the surface of the natural world to reveal the inner life of nature and of the artist.


Cameron Martin is known for his black-and-white landscape paintings informed by semiotics, but for the last three years the artist has been working on a new body of nonrepresentational paintings and drawings.

Rodrigo Valenzuela: New Works for a Post Worker’s World

Whether Valenzuela’s imagery engages with present-day workers, utopic visions from a modernist past, or a futuristic sci-fi dystopia, capitalist structures of time come under critique throughout BRIC’s exhibition. His work defies the capitalist conceit of linear progress by showing us ongoing labor exploitation that reaches back to the beginning of the industrial era, and it revolts against the structures that systematically control the time of worker’s lives.

Alberto Alejandro Rodríguez: Destruktion

The exhibition title, a term used by Heidegger, made its way to Alejandro Rodríguez via the writings of Derrida, whose famed attention to the play of binary oppositions plays a role in the artwork: here, we find such an oscillation between absence and presence. Above all, Alejandro Rodríguez’s project is invested in the imagination of ruin, exploring how images of destruction are constructed.

Mortality: A Survey of Contemporary Death Art

This is a review of an exhibition that never took place. One year and a half million deaths since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the United States, Mortality has yet to be resurrected, though its themes could not be timelier.

Amy Bennett: Nuclear Family

Although not the central theme in the exhibition, the complexity of motherhood, often eclipsed in the history of art by idealized images of maternity, is one of Bennett’s most important contributions in Nuclear Family, as she illustrates the changing roles mothers play within the “nuclear family” since the term entered popular parlance in the last century.

Katie DeGroot: Boscage

It’s not always a bad thing if you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Theresa Bloise and George Boorujy: Messenger

Messenger does not in and of itself repair the environment, but as it poses the future as an unanswered question—left blank in Boorujy’s voids and given one possible vision in Bloise’s landscapes—it offers a space for rethinking and re-feeling our ethical relationship to our shared Earth.

Painting at Night

Historically the professional art world has depreciated motherhood—forcing artists to choose between careers and motherhood or hide their status as mothers lest their work be dismissed1—but a new wave of exhibitions and online communities over the last five years or so has been challenging this.

Judith Braun: My Pleasure

Reticulating patterns of black acrylic on unstretched, bare canvas become stages for scenes of angst, pathos, and tenderness in Judith Braun’s exhibition My Pleasure.

Harold Mendez: The years now

Harold Mendez’s The years now memorializes centuries compressed into the singular space of the present.

Ashley Garrett: Aegis

These abstract works do not recount a hero’s journey but bear witness to vibrant forces of nature through swirling forms, capricious brushstrokes, and passages of brilliant light. It is as if the forests in which Artemis hunted or the seas which wrecked Odysseus’s ship are given agency in Garrett’s work and begin to tell their own tales of turmoil and splendor.

You Are Not Wonderful Just Because You Are a Mother

In the second annual Artist/Mother Podcast exhibition, juror and curator Qiana Mestrich takes up the problematic fact that a woman’s social value is often determined by whether or not she is a mother.

Kyoung eun Kang: TRACES: 28 Days in Elizabeth Murray's Studio

Each morning for 28 days, performance artist Kyoung eun Kang inhabited the late Elizabeth Murray’s upstate New York studio. These sessions, recorded with a stationary camera, have been edited into a two-hour single-channel wall-sized video projection that makes Murray’s studio seem like a continuation of the physical space of A.I.R.’s darkened Gallery II.

Karen Kilimnik

Karen Kilimnik’s self-titled exhibition assembles nearly 80 works (2001–present) of painting, video, photography, collage, and readymade, borrowing imagery from pastoral landscapes, Tsarist Russia, classical and romantic ballet, pop culture, and Hollywood movies.

Kate McQuillen: Wave Amnesia

The feeling of having a word on the tip of your tongue—a state between knowing and not-knowing, remembering and forgetting—takes visual form in the paintings that make up Kate McQuillen’s exhibition Wave Amnesia.

Diana Copperwhite: The Clock Struck Between Time

The question one asks while experiencing Diana Copperwhite’s new paintings is: When are they happening? As the exhibition title, The Clock Struck Between Time suggests, the artwork places us in an ambiguous temporal space, drifting from the present moment into a memory still struggling to take form.

Francesca DiMattio: Statues

Francesca DiMattio’s monstrous 9-foot tall She-Wolf (2018), with a bulbous black head stretching out from grafted human and animal forms, including a porcelain human front leg and a life-sized hunting dog standing in for a rear leg, restores the wildness of this maternal wolf once immortalized in the famous Etruscan bronze (500 BCE) that the sculpture references.

Nick van Woert

In many of van Woert’s works over the last decade or so, the artist has investigated the relation between our bodies and the waste we produce in our industrial, hyper-consumptive society.

Temporal Nomads:
The Scandal of Postmodern History Painting

Traditional history painting’s stories demonstrated the best in human endeavors—according to the bias of their Eurocentric patriarchal culture.

Francis M. Naumann’s Mentors: The Making of an Art Historian

An art historian’s memoir looks at the role of academic and artistic mentors through the lens of Duchamp’s readymade, exploring the ways in which we chose to adopt the characteristics and ideas of our influencers.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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