No one really expects much from the summer group show here in NYC. Though, as always, several manage to stand out from the fold and satiate non-traveling locals until the limelight returns post-Labor Day.

The biggie this summer is without a doubt “What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present,” currently showing at all three Matthew Marks locations.

Erik Parker isn’t a part of that show, though his work is vital enough to recommend a viewing of the artist’s latest entry in the group exhibition at nearby Kravits Wehby Gallery in Chelsea.

The show itselftitled “Outta Town Shit”is nothing to write home about (Wendy White’s inclusion also notwithstanding). The exhibition title is cheeky though, as most of the artists involved are locals. The real trouble with group shows is that the artists rarely serve up any of their best pieces. Parker, for that reason, stands out.

Earlier last month he painted a colorful faux-landscape on the wall outside Pilgrim Surf + Supply in Williamsburg. Cross-Bred Bay (above), Parker’s new painting in the Kravets exhibition, continues that winning streak.

It is a landscape scene set by the water, surrounded by foliage rendered in Parker’s bold pinks, laser greens, and psychedelic blues. The expressionism recalls the palette of Gauguin; the extreme cheeriness of both Rousseau and Disney’s Fantasia. Nowadays, however, exotic scenes like this aren’t reports from colonized territory, fetishizing native populations and their pristine conditions. In the hands of Parker, it feels more like a mental state, something out of reach from earth-bound humans, except to the imagination.

It is a real place, however… up there inside your head. It is also probably the best place to start if we’re ever to turn this planet around. Just imagine that. (Brian Chidester)

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