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A favorite underappreciated art venue in New York that consistently produces exciting exhibitions is the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris. This space, located at 120 Park Avenue at 42nd Street, is free to the public. Besides the actual gallery, there is an indoor sculpture court where many Philip Morris employees and other mid-town workers eat their lunch. The sculpture court is open early and late and provides an evocative environment for contemplation. Currently appearing in this space is “Outer City, Inner Space: Teresita Fernandez, Stephen Hendee, and Ester Partegas”. Hendee’s glowing “War Gems” fills the middle area with pastel colors strangely akin to the shop pushing Southwestern goods across the way. Integrating more successfully in the space is Fernandez’s “Sky (plane)” gently undulating above the entryway. Least successful aesthetically but most interactive with the space is Partegas’s “Moving About Matters” which features a giant brown bag lunch and invites the viewer to pick up a free postcard of people eating lunch in other urban spaces and think about the nature of public space. This exhibition will run through January 3, 2003.

In the gallery is “Paul Henry Ramirez: Space Addiction”, a hot, hot, hot installation with reds, pinks, maroons and purples painted on the walls and as fabric for the bench cushions. Neon splashes, swirls and nipples, curlicues and blobs are found on the walls themselves and on the paintings then integrated onto the walls. Here as in other shows Ramirez utilizes the architecture of the space (this time including a sound element) to create a full on stimulating sensory environment. “Paul Henry Ramirez: Space Addiction” runs through October 11, 2002.

For more information on either of these exhibitions visit http://www.whitney.org

- amy berk [Monday, August 19th, 2002]

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