The New Social Order

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Opening of the Week

In the Gallery

John Newsom’s ‘Bestiary’: Into the Great Wide Open

If captivating escapism from the neurotic concrete jungle is what you need, hit the first solo exhibition in seven years of John Newsom–the Rooster Cogburn of seize-the-day-and-molest-the-canvas oil painters–at the Marc Straus gallery. It opened this Wednesday and runs through June 30th at the aerie-nautical new space at 299 Grand Street.

Abstract realism at its most pyrotechnic-narrative–and sort of happy-but-not-really-scariest–Newsom’s view of nature-vs.-mean-kind leans more toward William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” and “Deliverance” than “The Jungle Book” or “The Yearling.” (Come to think of it both of the latter were rather “survival of the fittest” endeavors too.) OK, look, the paintings are gigantic, and gorgeous, nearly decorative if they weren’t so painterly, and somehow disturbing (like when a friend’s pet cockatiel focuses its attention on your face just a tad too much). Raccoons, those hand-busy “feeders,” and dead-eyed iguanas and ravenous wolves and too-smart-for-their-own-good owls and demented-frenzy hummingbirds….

It’s James Audubon gone bonkers. Check it out.

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