Exposed Mom as Sultry Muse, Amusement Parks: Chelsea Art

Photographs of Sandra Bush
Photographs by Mickalene Thomas of her late mother, Sandra Bush, at Lehmann Maupin Gallery. Thomas has frequently depicted her mother in photographs such as these, as well as paintings. Photographer: Katya Kazakina/Bloomberg

Mickalene Thomas’s large-scale photographs of a regal black woman greet visitors at Lehmann Maupin gallery in Chelsea.

The subject is depicted spread out on a couch with her breasts exposed and sitting primly with a red dress pulled over her knees. This is the artist’s mother and muse, Sandra Bush, who passed away this year at age 61.

Photographed over time in a variety of guises, Bush always conveys a mix of pride, vulnerability and seduction.

Having frequently appeared in Thomas’s richly textured, rhinestone-studded paintings, Bush is also the focus of her daughter’s first short documentary film.

It’s a moving, intimate portrait of a woman who aspired to be a model, walked out on an abusive husband and overcame drug addiction. The interview format is softened with old black-and-white family photographs and film footage of fashion shows, birthday parties and a hospital bed.

On her 50th birthday, Bush received a cake inscribed “Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman,” and that’s how she wanted to be remembered. Thomas makes that dream come true.

Prices for photographs range from $15,000 to $20,000. The video is not for sale. “How to Organize a Room Around a Striking Piece of Art” runs through Jan. 5 at 540 W. 26th St.; +1-212-255-2923;

Tie-Dye Abstractions

Next door, large-scale paintings by Keltie Ferris feature pixelated formations competing for space and attention with tie-dyed fields.

The artist uses palette knife and spray-paint to create tension between hard-edged geometric shapes and blurry areas. The seductive, luminous palette includes tasty shades of apricot, mango and peach deepened by purple and blue.

Ferris deftly orchestrates different types of perceptions, often within a single painting, as if shifting the lens of a camera.

Her canvas “Navigator” made me want to rub my eyes -- it seemed like I was looking at it through a mist of tears. In another, “1 2 and 3 4,” the focus kept changing throughout, with fuzzy areas framed by steps, zigzags and straight lines.

Prices range from $25,000 to $45,000 and all works have been sold. The show will reopen on Jan. 2 and run until Jan. 12 at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 534 w. 26th St.; +1-212-744-7400;

Sinister Carnival

Israeli-born artist Tal R painted amusement-park scenes with hyper-intense colors -- then turned the canvases on their sides as if to suggest that things are not what they seem.

The artist’s solo debut at Cheim & Read, “The Shlomo,” features fictional characters and is peppered with references to early-20th-century art movements Fauvism, Symbolism and Expressionism.

“Night Awning” shows a red-and-white polka-dot canopy over striped doors, alluding to Kandinsky. “House Bonni” depicts a small building composed of jewel-colored patchwork reminiscent of Klee.

“Tea Time” has a group of men sporting distinctive mustaches and hats. The composition’s focal point is a yellow-and-green vehicle parked on pink, turquoise and purple ground.

Prices range from $35,000 to $125,000. “The Shlomo” runs through Jan. 12 at 547 W. 25th St.; +1-212-242-7727;

Muse highlights include Craig Seligman and Greg Evans on movies.

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