Saturday, April 26, 2014


Was able to attend the opening for a show (called Zig Zag Jag) of the late, great George Schneeman's collages (with some egg tempura paintings of some of the same collages on wooden panels) at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery in Chelsea last night. It's up until May 24th, so if you're anywhere near Manhattan, definitely check it out.

Most of them are as witty and full of life and joy (and contrast and unexpected yet perfect juxtapositions) as the one above. In fact when I walked in and began "reading" the collages starting at the entrance to the room I felt like I was watching a lively and sexy short French movie, only funnier.

George was an original, a painter who didn't care about the art world but only about the joy of making art. He was deceptively knowledgable especially about art and literary history, and such an able hands on artisan as well as artist that he was able to make,, his own harpsichord (two of them actually).

He lived in a rent controlled apartment on Saint Mark's Place since the 1960s and spent summers with his wife Katie and their three sons in Italy in another inexpensive dwelling and managed to maintain his household with gigs like teaching English as a second language. The critics, most of them anyway, never got his genius, or noticed it in the first place, which George didn't seem to notice or care about either.

He's always been associated with the "second generation" New York School poets, led by his best friend Ted Berrigan, and for whose books he often made the cover art. And that association I think most likely worked against him in a way in the art world. I know how dependent the networks that sustain the art world and the literary world are on their academic connections and defenders etc. and I always identified with George's detachment from all that.

That association with the Lower Eastside poetry scene that came out of the Saint Mark's Poetry Project is the emphasis in another show which opened a few nights before the Zig Zag Jag, this one at Poets House down in Battery Park City (the Lower Westside, if you will) which is scheduled to run until September and has many more works and kinds of work of George's from collaborations with poet friends to paintings of them, and more (like his 1966 portrait and collaboration with Ted Berrigan below).

There will be a panel discussion and a reading tomorrow afternoon and evening at Poets House celebrating George's work and I wouldn't miss that if I were you. That exhibit is called A PAINTER AND HIS POETS and the catalog alone is worth the trip (two great essays in it by Peter Schjeldahl and Bill Berkson and an interview Alice Notley did with George from 1977).


tpw said...

I'd love to see his work--the two examples you show are wonderful.

Margaret Reagan said...

Thanks Michael! Poet House show is excellent. Was particularly fun to see works from 2000 to 2009....a complete show.