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New York Spring Exhibition Highlights: Jessica Craig-Martin and Brian Rutenberg

Two shows on-view right now—one uptown, one down—highlight the ongoing work of BFA Photography and Video faculty member Jessica Craig-Martin and Brian Rutenberg (MFA 1989 Fine Arts). While their subjects, media and aesthetic ethos are far apart—Craig-Martin photographs exceedingly well-heeled folks, Rutenberg paints abstract Southern landscapes—both artists use the current exhibitions to further explore the topics and techniques that have preoccupied their respective practices for years.

Working excessively fancy parties as an event photographer for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker grants Jessica Craig-Martin unusual privilege to the über-privileged; apart from her commissioned work she makes photographs that are as brightly lit, colorful and crisp as the ones in the glossies but that zoom in on the details. In her latest exhibition, “Public Relations,” tightly cropped images—a chic up-do, gold brocode, lots of jewels and champagne—cut incisively into the lavish gaiety and over-the-top presentations of wealth. Not mocking nor glorifying, her eye is fascinated by the glitz and glamor that few can resist looking at. “The on-camera flash declares my presence,” she writes. “I am part of the problem.” On view at Nathalie Karg Gallery, 291 Grand Street, through April 16.

“Lowcountry: New Paintings” features 11 new works from Brian Rutenberg that abstractly chronicle his journey from his home, the lowlands of South Carolina, to New York, a crossing-over he made many years ago but continues to mine for imagery and expression. Bright, bold hues—like coastal blues, fuschias and peachy oranges—highlight his heavy strokes, revealing the texture of paint pulled across the canvas, masked and uncovered. His work reflects changes in landscape and affect registered in moving from place to place, and from memory to the present. On view at Forum Gallery, 475 Park Avenue, through May 6.

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