Red Carpet Treatment

You enter the gallery on a carpet of push-broom heads, the coarse red bristles making for a bouncy "Walk of Fame." A nearby video chronicles members of the Austrian collective Parfyme, joined by local artist Deluxe, barge-poling this "street canoe" (actually a wheeled wooden platform) through Brooklyn's byways. In the rear gallery, a headless, business-suited dummy hangs by its heels, necktie drooping toward the floor, part of the ongoing happening, "Ain't No Picnic," by Brooklynites David Henry Brown Jr. and Marc Grubstein. Like one of Jack Smith's legendarily interminable but riveting theater pieces, this constantly changing, garbage-strewn tableau—the gallery was cited for attracting rats with food left over from the opening-night performance—is sharply funny, and such details as a felt American flag with stars collapsed in a heap, a 2000 "Donald J. Trump for President" poster, and a pretzel-log cabin, crustily glued together with mustard, cleverly merge America's history and profligacy.


'Contact'

Rock of ages: a detail from "Ain't No Picnic"
photo: RC Baker
Rock of ages: a detail from "Ain't No Picnic"

Tom Burke uses old-school cameras, such as an East German Pentacon 6 and a sixties-era "Diana," made in Hong Kong's Great Wall plastic factory, to achieve a soft, pinhole-style result in his enigmatic prints. One shot looks up toward half a dozen small houses suspended from a tower by broad, helicopter-like blades—is it an amusement ride for Dorothy wannabes? His blurry take on aquarium fish imbues them with a gorgeous, underside glow, like silver zeppelins over a silent movie's nocturnal metropolis. A second space contains a mural constructed of hundreds of Polaroids laid out in a precise grid—Brooke Williams's photographs of myriad fingers, hands, and wrists, some sporting jewelry or the occasional tattoo. The saturated colors and the format's bottom-heavy frames continue the retro, anti-digital vibe. Outrageous Look, 103 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718-218-7656. Through August 17.


'Dreamland: Coney Island 1905–1925'

The 2 x 3–foot Blueprint for Dreamland delineates, with ruled boxes, circles, and the precise capital letters of an architect's pen, a proto–theme park with "Alps" created from burlap covered with plaster paris and the canals of Venice made from tin-lined troughs. Alongside original plans and sketches for Ferris wheels and carousels are vintage photos of boardwalk strollers in bowler hats and ankle-length skirts (their figures made ghostly from the long exposures) and steel shooting-gallery targets; the surface of a 19-inch-high parachute jumper is thoroughly pitted from years of direct hits. Ricco Maresca, 529 W 20th, 212-627-4819. Through August 19.


'Action Precision'

In this show of nine abstract painters, James Nares's solitary, operatic brushstroke tumbles down a nine-foot-high canvas like an electric-blue acrobat. Also notable, Jill Moser's "Blues for Orange" series, in which dark blue lines bunch, snarl, and curve across smooth, dirty-white grounds; loops traced in ever widening arcs fill her images with vibrant oscillations. The London Diptych (2006), by Rachel Howard, consists of two 16-inch squares covered in glossy gray housepaint—black clumps and tendrils of light and dark could be the lowering smog of an industrial revolution dystopia. Lennon Weinberg, 514 W 25th, 212-941-0012. Through August 11.


Charles Long

Long begins by taking starkly lit photos of snowy fields and mountains—in one, his own elongated shadow stretches along a recently plowed road. On these predominately gray, blue, and white grounds he draws blunt organic shapes and pseudo-pictograms in charcoal or vivid pastels. Then, as if carving a rock face, he scratches and sands the photographic surfaces. This sensitive marriage of photography and drawing creates singularly beautiful, soulful narratives. Tanya Bonakdar, 521 W 21st, 212-414-4144. Through August 4.


'War on .45/My Mirrors Are Painted Black (For You)'

Like a vinyl Lou Reed bootleg, this show is raw, literally dark, and death obsessed. Gardar Eide Einarsson has enlarged comic-strip captions and balloons; one declaims, "And off we went to destroy everything I held dear," and another, "His Badge Says Death, Ma!" Terence Koh's huge slab of black plywood has been pissed on, gouged, and burned, recalling Warhol's "Oxidation" series and the shotgun-blasted paintings of William S. Burroughs. Herwig Weiser's Death Before Disko—acrylic tubes lined with red strobes and connected to a p.a. system that crackles, rumbles, and emits distant, distorted howls—could be Armageddon's jukebox. Bortolami Dayan, 510 W 25th, 212-727-2050. Through September 9.

 
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