The title Entropvisions is in homage to my mother, the poet and art critic, Harriet Zinnes. In 1990 New Directions published a collection of her poems titled Entropisms, a word she made-up combining entropy - the tendency toward disorder - and tropism - the growth towards or away from a stimulus. Similarly, my short reviews combine entropy and tropism by suggesting growth towards a vision of art from the chaos of the art world. Through the back door, my title also pays homage to my physicist father, Irving Zinnes, whose long discussions with my mom got her thinking about entropy and tropism in the first place.

Janice Biala at Berry Campbell

The Janice Biala (1903-2000) exhibition of paintings and collaged works on paper at Berry Campbell, up through April 13, is an eye-opener, literally and figuratively. Not only do these paintings have subtle and personal color, but the show helps broaden our sense of the complex art world of Downtown NYC in the 1940’s-50’s. In Mary Gabriel’s spectacular book, “Ninth Street Women,” Biala plays a backseat, mainly entering the pages as a warm, supportive, and good friend of some of the main players, but she was much more. Perhaps because Gabriel accepts art history’s standard narrative of linear advancement between art movements, the book focuses on the AbEx painters, and, as Biala always retained her allegiance to observational painting, she just doesn’t fit this simple progression. But art historical periods are rarely so single-minded, and certainly post-war Downtown was quite complex. Living between NYC and Paris, Biala was an important modernist, connecting Cubist construction and the School of Paris’ love of color, with NY’s avant-garde. She painted her private world, from views out her window to interiors, people and still lifes, always finding an intimate, quiet, sonorous and innovative way in, with subdued colors perfectly pitched, and often modernist multi-viewpoint perspectives. In the 1930’s she lived in Paris, and as the last companion to novelist Ford Madox Ford, met and knew everyone. Once back in NYC, she again found herself at the center of the artworld, having studied in Provincetown with Edwin Dickinson, and meeting friends of her brother, Jack Tworkov, among others. Speaking of Tworkov, through April 13, JJ Murphey Gallery is hosting an exhibition of the interwoven painters of Tworkov’s family, from his sister, Biala (whose name comes from the Polish town of her birth), her husband, Daniel Brustlein, to Tworkov’s daughter, Hermine Ford, and her husband, Robert Moskowitz, and of course Jack Tworkov. Biala’s work also can be seen in the the Grey Art Museum exhibition, “Americans Working in Postwar France, 1946-1962,” through July 20.