By Roberta Smith
Originally appeared in The New York Times, April 27, 1990, p. C22
SoHo and TriBeCa may be right next door to each other, but in terms of art scenes, they are miles apart. Compared with SoHo's gallery saturation and increasingly blue-chip slant, TriBeCa's art-viewing opportunities are scattered, low key and casual.
The area has long been a neighborhood where artists love to live, work and eat out. But when it comes to exhibitions, TriBeCa marches to a different, more underground drummer - not unlike SoHo of 15 to 20 years ago.
TriBeCa gallery visitors learn to expect the unexpected, and even when the unexpected isn't first rate, it usually broadens the understanding of the art of the moment.
The area's artistic character is in many ways summed up by its being home to four of the city's most respected alternative exhibition spaces: the Clocktower, Artists Space, the Franklin Furnace Archive and the Alternative Museum. In these venues and a handful of other galleries, the emphasis is usually on young, unknown or eccentric talent, on new media or on large-scale or political artworks that don't fit so easily into the more commercial gallery scene to the north. The presence of two galleries devoted to the work of outsider or self-taught artists increases the likelihood of seeing art from beyond the art world's familiar loop.[ EXCERPTED ]
Mr. Morrison's extreme and acerbic figurative style seems to owe something to the art of Robert Colescott. But his best images - among them ''Elektra,'' ''Baptism of Sister Ruth,'' ''The Ritual of Death Is a Black-Tie Affair'' and ''Spirituals'' - have an elastic, boomeranging energy of both form and subject that is distinct and that moves them in several spatial directions and through several cultures at once with unusual verve.