Last Friday I attended the opening for Keith Mayerson’s Good Leaders, Endangered Species, Ships at Sea, Part II.

“Barack Obama”, 2008, oil on linen, 48″ x 38″

After spending the day with friends in Forest Hills, the trek to Chelsea was well worth an arduous ride on the E train. I am fortunate to have taken a class with Keith this past summer at N.Y.U. He exhibits quite frequently, and before even going to Friday nights exhibit, I saw some of his work at Anton Kern, and Monya Rowe Gallery (an exhibit that I wrote about in a previous post dated June 13th). As soon as I entered the crowded space, I ran into friend Emily Bicht, who is taking a class with Keith at Brooklyn College, and Jason Murison, gallery manager at Friedrich Petzel. I also met up with friends and fellow N.Y.U. students, Ted Holland and Hugh O’Rourke.

“The Dalai Lama Teaching the Diamond Cutter Sutra and Seventy Verses on Emptiness at Radio City Music Hall Oct 14, 2007″, 2008, oil on linen, 50″ x 66”

The gallery is divided into a large room and a smaller back room. The walls are lined with paintings, lush, and sumptuous in their obsessive brush strokes. I could almost smell oil paint still lingering in the air, as the canvas surface glimmered subtly in the fluorescent neon light. I tried to detach myself from Keith the individual and immerse in Keith as the artist. Yet its a task quite difficult to undertake. The works, which vary in subject are while at most different, and at the same time have an underlying narrative that I believe equals a portrait of the painter. His palette floats between warm fleshy tones to cool grays and blues. I found myself leaning in and squinting to see the colors that exist in overlapping sequences. A personal favorite is “The Dalai Lama Teaching the Diamond Cutter Sutra and Seventy Verses on Emptiness at Radio City Music Hall Oct 14, 2007” (shown above). I also spent some time in the smallish space in the back which features paintings whose familiar subject investigates media images taken on September 11th. These in particular are extremely sensitive while being bold and forthright at the same time. Keith doesn’t shy away from the gruesomeness of the situation but also gives the viewer a frozen moment that feels respectively still and contemplative.

“Ode to Falling Man”, 2007, oil on linen, 66″ x 56″

The exhibition is on view at Derek Eller Gallery until November 15th. As a side note, Keith, congratulations, and “Woooey woooey woo”.