Gasoline Alley


In an endlessly looping video, a driverless motorcycle bucks and roars like an enraged bull, its handlebars chained to the flaking concrete ceiling of an abandoned industrial loft. As the chains grow taut it clumsily pirouettes, the engine kicking into a deafening whine while the bike briefly becomes airborne before crashing down, the madly spinning rear wheel spitting out debris like shrapnel. In the gallery itself, the floor is covered with entwined skid marks—some scorched deep into the plywood—made when this Austrian artist snaked his Honda through the long, narrow space, occasionally stuttering up the walls to create ersatz wainscoting. Like Pollock, whose empathetic gestures are frozen in the graceful arcs of his drip paintings, Dobler has captured his own movements through time and space, eschewing paint in favor of jerry cans of fuel and a gas mask for protection from clouds of burning rubber.

Capsules: Stephen Shore

The subjects are banal: a toilet bowl filled with brown, clotted water; a Texas drugstore sign; three hippies at the Grand Canyon. Yet look closely at these early-’70s color photographs and discover a sly combo of content and composition: A cup and saucer sit on the toilet tank, a white-on-white juxtaposition of eating and excreting; the blue-on-orange Rexall sign advertises “S & M Drugs,” oblivious to the cornucopia of vice it proffers; bearded youths wear tie-dye T-shirts that, blasted by Shore’s flash, outshine the sunset. 303 Gallery, 525 W 22nd, 212-255-1121. Through July 7.

Wangechi Mutu

This Kenyan-born artist collages photos from ethnographic and motorcycle magazines with thighs, breasts, and other body parts from porn spreads to create fantastical women clad in leopard-skin platform boots and garish fabrics and jewels. Her nine-foot-tall Throne sculptures—rickety wooden chairs lofted upward on spindly sticks lashed together with leather straps and topped by dripping wine bottles that leave dark, coagulated spatters on the floor—speak of the pursuit of power. Sikkema Jenkins, 530 W 22nd, 212-929-2262. Through June 17.

Willem de Kooning

Sometimes hung in hinged frames so both sides can be viewed, these pages from a sketchbook (circa 1975–78) are covered with pencil lines searching for the contours of figures, at times swirling about them like capes. In one, a musician levitates above his keyboard, erasures and reworkings creating a graphite nimbus, the word Saint scrawled to one side. Already in his seventies, de Kooning had made great art but a messy life, which perhaps explains his inscription on page one: “When an alcoholic takes a drink it is an act of violence against himself.” Matthew Marks, 523 W 24th, 212-243-0200. Through June 17.

Rachel Owens
In the front gallery, a towering cardboard wave causes dogs to scurry and a horse to buck its master; these rough plaster sculptures are surrounded by trailing vines of colorful broken glass. In Owens’s collages, New York Times photographs of angry Katrina victims are juxtaposed with pictures of Bush, Cheney, and Rice painted over with red fox-hunting jackets, black riding boots, top hats, and smug smirks. ZieherSmith, 533 W 25th, 212-229-1088. Through June 24.

Arthur Dove

These tiny (some are 3 x 4 inches) watercolors, which Dove referred to simply as “ideas,” shift between outdoor images—dark forks break up broad blue strokes to create a wooded pond; thick pencil lines form the rigging of a sailboat—and pure abstraction: curves of white, black, and sandy brown coalesce into the aptly titled Grey Light (1935). Also on view are pages from an artists’ handbook that this influential painter filled with daubs of pigment; penciled grids tie the various hues into elaborate color-mixing charts. Alexandre Gallery, 41 E 57th, 212-755-2828. Through June 16.

Todd Norsten
Less paintings than gag panels, these roughly six-foot-high images have surprising bite. A snowman, his tripartite body flattened against a horizon line, bleeds from a carrot jammed into his head, murdered with his own nose. A quickly outlined skull sits beside a rough rectangle containing the legend “Your Picture Here.” In other paintings, this Minnesota artist transforms the anonymous menace of ski masks into even creepier wide-mouthed clown faces. Cohan and Leslie, 138 Tenth Ave, 212-206-8710. Through June 17.

Mark di Suvero
The front room holds quick ink-wash drawings of dark thrusting diagonals and hazy light, which Di Suvero magically translates into a 32-foot-high sculpture of rusty, crisscrossing I beams that fills the gallery’s vast rear space, while retaining the airy grace of the sketches. A two-foot-tall sculpture (Trans, 2005) reads like a time-exposure photograph of a toreador—all twisted, blurry motion frozen in cut stainless steel. Paula Cooper, 534 W 21st, 212-255-1105. Through July.