Sunday, August 5, 2012

ODE TO MOTT HAVEN

Lou Reed's 1978 Street Hassle album


Five of my monoprints are in a summer group exhibition, ODE TO STREET HASSLE, at the Bronx Art Space, an artist-run collaborative space in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx known for hosting contemporary art, film, and performance exhibitions. The Bronx Art Space is an impressively large venue that I embarrassingly knew little about before participating in ODE TO STREET HASSLE. For both budding and seasoned curators, performers, artists, and filmmakers, I highly recommend looking into proposing an exhibition and/or event there. Although I had little contact with the managers of the space, they seem very open to experimental art and media exhibitions. The other artists in ODE TO STREET HASSLE are Zoe Leonard, Amy Touchette, Myles Paige, Kim Bennet, and Kimi Hodges. Last night was the opening reception and my first opportunity to see all of the work installed together. Chris Hosea, a poet and first time art curator (as far as I know), was asked to put a show together somewhat last minute and chose work from a group of artists he mostly knows---a not so unusual, but sometimes tricky, way of curating a show. 

Amy Touchette, The Insiders No. 2
I have to give Hosea a lot of credit for pulling this show off on such short notice. As an artist, you always take a leap of faith whenever you exhibit your work. Sometimes you know the curator. Sometimes you don’t. You want to show with strong artists in a respected venue and hope that the other artists and the curator put as much energy and thought into the exhibition, opening, and PR as you do. Hosea went above and beyond promoting the show, and I commend him for that. In the limited time he had to orchestrate something with artists on both the east and west coasts, he managed to pull the show together in an aesthetically elegant way.  While I admire Hosea’s verve and energy for promotion and PR, the show would have benefitted from some thoughtful curatorial editing of Paige, Hodge, and Hosea’s work--Hosea’s being a yawnsville meta-ode to irony and Kierkegaard ‘tucked’ in the corner. 


Chris Hosea, 2012


The biggest hole in this exhibition is a lack of cohesive theme, and you can’t rely on a nebulous reference to the rawness of the streets by referencing the title of Lou Reed’s 1978 album Street Hassle to hold the show together. The photographs in the show by Leonard, Paige, and Touchette, don’t have much in common besides the fact that they are all photographs. Yes, Leonard and Touchette both deal with documentation in urban environments, the former focusing on the urban landscape of New York City and the objects within it; the latter presenting a series of portraits of young people growing up and living in the city.  Paige’s sibling series are beautifully rich photographs as objects and some of my favorites in the show, but there is an incongruity presenting them with the Leonard and Touchette’s photographs. Paige’s series could have been edited down from the sixteen presented to give the images a little more space and breathing room. The non-photographers, erroneously lumped together as painters (the only painting I ever made was in high school), also don’t quite fit together. I suppose you could talk about the more formal textural elements of my monoprints and Bennet’s spray paint on vinyl pieces, but beyond that I’m not sure where they line up thematically or conceptually. Hodge’s mishmash of sculptural wall pieces, the strongest being Expand, 2012, are much more powerful than her singular abstract painting which stands out mostly by the awkwardness of it unnecessarily being there. 



Myles Paige, image from Siblings, 1997 - present

Zoe Leonard, Tree + Fence, out my back window, 1998

Kimi Hodges, Expand, 2012


Kim Bennet, Sachem, 2012

Julia Elsas, Untitled, 2011

Besides some light editing, needing a cohesive thematic statement, and the addition of helpful wall labels by the works with the generic descriptive information, Hosea pulled off a solid group show in the amount of time and minimal budget he had to organize the exhibition. I was genuinely impressed by the final iteration of the exhibition and honored that he asked me to participate alongside the other talented and dedicated artists he knows. I am excited to be a part of a show at the Bronx Art Space, a fantastic exhibition venue and a most worthwhile trek. I will absolutely head there in the near future to see what they have on rotation. 

ODE TO STREET HASSLE will be on view at the Bronx Art Space through August 31, 2012. The gallery will be open to the public (free admission) on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2pm-6pm, Fridays 12pm-6pm, and Saturdays 12pm-5pm.

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