Winter Sampler at Denise Bibro Fine Art

THE WEEKS BETWEEN MID-DECEMBER AND EARLY JANUARY are a slow news time in the galleries. That makes it a very good time to introduce artists whom galleries are interested in taking aboard or ones they simply like but cannot accommodate on the roster. Denise Bibro’s Winter Salon is a lively sampler of 21 artists, six of them invited guests.

Recognition comes slowly to artists like David Barnett, sui generis and not readily pigeonholed in a particular movement or line of descent. His fey, delicately crafted collages are among the most satisfying works on the contemporary scene. Fragments of found materials are conjured into collages and intricate three-dimensional machines that combine Victorian-era botany, vintage anatomy plates and medieval saints into darkly imagined hybrids. Fragile nightmares, really. Barnett’s “Company of Three Players,” is a stage set with figures made of calipers, springs and a medley of figures, both the likable and the unlovely. It is a good introduction to his pictorial wit.


David Barnett, "Oscar"


That marvelously wicked little collage gives you no idea of Barnett’s whimsical constructions. So:


David Barnett, "Tin Man"


Deborah Winiarski entered three luminous encaustic abstractions. She handles the medium’s material translucence with great refinement. Fine papers appear under and within veils of beeswax, pigmented and thinly applied. A pendant pair on 12-inch panels are in the main room. A somewhat larger and particularly interesting one in the office includes a page of text, visible as if through glass. A diaphanous ensemble, the three leave me mulling the mystery of why this ancient, intrinsically beautiful medium has so few disciples among contemporary artists.


Deborah Winiarski, "Wild Peaches"


For those of you who believe in the existence of that little brat called an “inner child,” there is Dusty Boynton’s gestural “Garden.” I have as much faith in these inner tykes as in fairies, but you can believe if you like. Donald Kuspit does. He wrote that the improvised childlike look of Boynton’s art conveys “the tragicomic moods and perspective of the child.” Has Kuspit ever known real kids? Tragicomedy is an adult projection onto the child’s domain. Boynton’s bold scrawls, with their brash vigor, owe much to Dubuffet, who never got childhood quite right.


Dusty Boynton, "Red"


Jerry Meyer’s “Hollywood Time Share” is a lightboxed collage that approaches its subject with a more flamboyant variant of Barnett’s humor. Its symmetrical arrangement is in sly contradiction to the wacky family album it purports to be. Old headshots of family members are superimposed on vintage postcards of Hedy Lamarr’s Hollywood mansion. If you can remember who Hedy was, then you might be too old for this work. It is a delightful tour de force, impossible to describe. Picture it this way: If Magritte had made jukeboxes, they would look like this.

Iona Fromboluti’s “Drifting Away,” an 8-foot-long diptych, sets a long shelf low against a clouded sky. A spare arrangement of oyster shells, a string of pears and a broken conch dot the horizontal expanse. Fromboluti is a good painter with a particular gift for intimate, lyric measures. She is better represented by her small canticle to a dead bird—also set against sky—that hangs in the office. Her intimist vision is out of sync with the epic ambition of the diptych.

While you are in the office, be sure to see Christopher Reiger’s strange and wonderful composition of three darkling sparrows. One of them sends a full-throated song—a threnody by the look of it—into the air, its black notes a stream of tiny birds winging upward.

Winter Salon: 2010-2011 at Denise Bibro Fine Art, 529 W. 20th St., 212-647-7030.

This review appeared first in CityArts, January 12, 2011.

© 2011 Maureen Mullarkey


  1. I too quickly read the title as “Whitman’s Sampler at Denise Bibro Fine Art.” I wish.

  2. When was the last time anyone ever saw a Whitman’s Sampler box?It is a classic name. You don’t get classic from Denise Bibro. But Barnett is a great find. Anything but classic, except maybe in fastidious attention to craft.

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