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A LINK to a Facebook thread of Whitney Counterweight History with some recent updates:
www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3391958794639&set=a.1764444587801.2100926.1139702889&type=1&theater


History of the Counterweight


Bill Rabinovitch, Barnaby Ruhe, Vernita N/Cognita, c. 1981 (photo by Victoria Arlak)

"SEE the originators of the first Artists Run Museum Scale art shows with 100 artists in 5 galleries in Soho in 1977, and on, responding loudly to the Whitney Biennial. The Counterweight Provoked the Times Square Show, the Terminal Show, which engendered the East Village Phenom, as artists created the entire scene instead of waiting to be invited by galleries and curators for their existence. We did it. We broke the stranglehold of the system. We drove to DC to Jimmy Carter's Art Czar to tell her artists can rule their own destiny. She went for it, and Jim Melchert of the NEA dropped a check for 15,000$ on the spot for our action. That was money back then. As a matching grant, we doubled it with a dollar at the door, 15,000 showed up the first day. The sleepy art world was suddenly hit with an avalanche of underground art and Leon Golub, Nancy Spero, David Hammons, Debbie Kass, Stuart Diamond, Randy Williams, Gil Coker among others were brightly shining." Dr. Barnaby Ruhe, 2014




Grace Glueck, 1981, "If the Whitney Biennial comes, can the Whitney Counterweight be far behind? Since 1977, the big show on Madison Avenue has touched off a corresponding salon des refuses down on Grand Street, and sure enough, the 1981 Counterweight - the third - opened Thursday. Spread out over six Grand Street spaces - galleries, artists' studios and a safe-manufacturing company - the artist-organized Counterweight boasts the work of 56 painters, sculptors and mixed-media artists (with a smattering of such names as Elaine de Kooning, Alice Neel and George McNeil, but most not so well known), plus performances, film and video showings, concerts and poetry readings. There'll even be a panel of artists discussing ''the cutting edge'' in esthetics next Friday at 9 P.M. in the Landmark Gallery, 469 Broome Street. ''We've felt from the beginning that the idea of the Whitney Biennial as an overview of American art was a very limited concept,'' says Vernita Nemec, who has organized a show of small-size works for this Counterweight. ''It's mostly an in-group of artists who are handled by a few galleries.''

''We still see ourselves as a balance to the Whitney,'' adds William Rabinovitch, an artist who is lending his gallery-studio at 74 Grand Street to house part of the show. ''Our work has more to do with content than theirs, which is based on art more acceptable to the conservative tastes of corporations.'' The Counterweight art, he noted, tends to be ''less clean and minimal, more Expressionistic, involved with strong colors and brushwork and a sense of pain and struggle.'' Not only are half of the Counterweight's 56 ''wall and floor'' artists women, he points out, but the show also has a ''fairly good minority representation,'' including black, Hispanic and Japanese artists.

Money to mount the Counterweight comes partly from some downtown merchants, with exhibition space lent for free. It's viewable - free - through March 7 at Chuck Levitan, 42 Grand Street; William Rabinovitch, 74 Grand Street; Alex Heinrici, 81 Grand Street; Alain Bilhaud, 96 Grand Street; the Empire Safe Company, 103 Grand Street, and Arturo DiModica, 127 Grand Street. Call 226-2873 for word on performances and other events. "

Grace Glueck, N.Y.Times, 1981


"The Damning of Binary Logic & The Whitney Counterweight's 2014 ongoing dialogue with the Whitney Biennial".

I’ve for the first time today filled things out about the roots of my Whitney Counterweight — as tying into Art in America’s current revelatory May 2014 article about Harold Rosenberg. Harold Rosenberg besides Clement Greenberg & Lawrence Alloway all three I knew personally encouraged my taking an active stance in my fight against the art world’s ever more controlling, pervasive dark side.

We did it again 2014 in dialogue with this Whitney Biennial with our Whitney Counterweight 2014, once again getting it right in totally fresh ways, even a 2014 symposium held last month at downtown NY Law School — although that video’s not released yet. Crushed the Whitney 3 times in the past when ours was headquartered in SoHo a long time ago - so then said all the art media in NYC.

I will do a new one in 2016, 2 years hence, even if the Whitney has now said it will delay a further year until 2017.

Several major critic artist’s like Jerry Saltz, London's Matthew Collings & Walter Robinson are part of mine in 2014 — even several artists on a linked thread on the current Art Forum Biennial review on Walter Robinson's page today.

Both Clement Greenberg & Harold Rosenberg I met & knew in 1973 -1976 sympathized with my course of taking action against the dark side & told me to go ahead & I initiated the first Whitney Counterweight in 1977. Some of this with Clement Greenberg is in writing & I will say Ivan Karp was instrumental & Andy Warhol was far more than sympathetic I also knew -- that was much later to play out in surprising ways in 2012 about my part with the Warhol Foundation noted in the NY Times comments to that article.

The brand new 2014 3 page article about Harold Rosenberg’s other writings & damming views of the art world establishment not so well known, are in this months May, Art in America. In it Rosenberg is very critical of what the art establishment & museums even by then morphed into regarding control, saying it would all totally destroy artists & their visions. Art Critic Lawrence Alloway I also knew at the time who coined the term “Pop Art” engaged me in an active exchange about my Whitney Counterweight in the Nation over more than a month in several Nation issues where he was the top art critic after Greenberg. There was very positive coverage in most all the major media about all 3 initial Whitney Counterweights & terrific affirmation by the then very active women's movement. The Whitney Museum itself was seemingly helpless & aghast by all this it as it's continued to unfold.

See Statement & History & Artist's page besides & link to a 1981 video documentary of ours by Brooklyn College lost ever since but now just found in an old box & now on Youtube and linked on the Whitney Counterweight site. I BTW was in the Whitney program a semester after Schnabel & experienced both good & bad with him.

Bill Rabinovitch

Whitney Counterweight 2014
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