Like a disturbing number of the good group shows this summer, “Two Friends and So On” has been organized by men, in this case the artist-couple Jonathan Horowitz and Rob Pruitt. The title is as honest and casual as it is descriptive. Horowitz and Pruitt, who organized the exhibition along the exact same lines at this gallery six seasons ago, simply act as a two-headed butterfly flapping its wings in order to see if a storm can be generated.
The results are more a squall than a full-fledged cyclone, but this exquisite corpse of a show sheds light on undercurrents that usually go unacknowledged in the art world. Primarily, it answers the unspoken question, “How do I get in a show?” with “It’s who you know.” This isn’t shocking as it’s long known that artists are often the best scouts and that galleries are usually led to artists by other artists. This is as it should be.
Here, Horowitz and Pruitt begin a chain reaction by choosing the much underappreciated Jennifer Bornstein. She contributes an enchanting etching of her friend, the artist Chivas Clem, who, it will come as no surprise, is also her choice of artist (artists are nothing if not fixed in their tastes). Clem instantly turns the friendship theme salty with a Polaroid of what can only be called a schlong sticking thorough a bathroom-wall glory hole. From here things get earthy—in the literal sense—with Meg Webster’s transported seedlings.
The show is a diagram of associations. A couple of the participants are married, a few live together. There are subsections where painters chose painters and older artists chose older artists. The installation, which proceeds so you can see who picked who, reveals aesthetic proclivities as well. There’s a section of abstract painting, conceptual photography, and sculpture. One of the better jags is the patch of humorous art led by the inimitable Michael Smith, whose snapshots of the Arizona biosphere include one of the cafeteria, with an advertisement for “Jumbo Beef Dog.” “Two Friends” is more than a show; it’s a map of cliques, affiliations, favors, and camaraderie. As such it is a small, sweet mirror of the art world of the summer of 2006.