Spring/Break’s Fifth Installment: The Coolest Show This Week
Spring/Break art show opened Tuesday, located inside of the historic James A. Farley Post Office, now part of Skylight at Moynihan Station. The show highlights artists and curators of all kinds—sculptors, painters, digital artists, photographers, light and sound artists, and experimental performance artists—and the theme is something that we can all relate to: ⌘COPY⌘PASTE, highlighting new forms of appropriation and reproduction while shining light on the art’s many historical and contemporary references.
Upon walking into the lobby of the old post office, one can wander through the ticket booth and into the first floor’s main lobby. There, we were greeted with Brooklyn-based Anne Spalter’s Precession. Curated by Elizabeth Keithline, the 3,000 square foot installation is a swirl of psychedelic algorithms. The large kaleidoscopic mural installation is manipulated with “digital wallpaper.” Mixed media—including video installations on small screen panels, scattered throughout the room—find ways to tuck perfectly in between images of New York City. The tops of skyscrapers morph into infinite mirrored images, giving you a birds-eye view of all of Manhattan.
Moving upstairs, to the inside of the old post office, we started with Los Angeles gallery Shulamit Nazarian’s booth in Room #3104 where artist Genevieve Gaignard created a shared domestic living space of two women: The Cat Lady and The Hairhopper. The solo installation curated by gallery director Renée Fox showcases two women who live together, while Gaignard plays each of the characters herself. Highlighting her biracial background, Gaignard shows pictures of each of the characters in their elements, shining light onto her own insecurities, and the fact that she does not feel she fits in to mainstream standards of beauty.
Continuing, we caught sight of a few interesting pieces in the hallway, including: Burger Lady (2014) by Brent Owens and an LED installation titled Whose? (2014) by Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos that blinked the “Y” on and off, distorting the message of whose it really is—“ours” or “yours.” We also saw a series of 10 acrylic paintings form over the course of the past decade in Matthew F. Fisher’s TEN YEARS, curated by Jon Lutz. Down the hall in Room #3117, artists Steve DeFrank and Waldo Jones presented Hammin’ It Up—an exhibition that showed DeFrank’s image and paint illusions, like Big Hairy Mess, and Jones’ Dr. Seuss-like ceramic sculptures, like The Doctor.
Across from that, in Room #3118, David B. Smith showed Extruded Daydream—a site-specific installation of digitally woven sculptures that resembled floor pillows in odd, intertwining shapes. Bill Cunningham paid the booth a visit while we were there, and Smith showed us his playful lights made of slinkies, and the surreal fabric paintings hung in the back too. In addition, Alanna Vanacore presented Same-Same, But Different, curated by Aaron Levi Garvey, highlighting an adult birthday party, and its favors, including beer and Xanax-topped ice cream. We saw Field Project’s presentation of artist Caroline Wells Chandler’s From the Well of Salmakiss, which included large, playful crocheted wool figures with varying facial expressions.
Up on the fourth floor, our eyes were caught by another work by Kosmatopoulos. Her installation, Mhoa Untdh, showed a large, flashing LED light that alternated the words “HAND” and “MOUTH.” There was Fifteen Paris of Hands, hand molds frozen in comfortable texting positions, and a booth playing Google translate conversions from varying languages.
We also saw a selection of artist Cameron Dailey’s hand-drawn cards in The Past That Suits You Best—the first time showing a complete project for Dailey. In Pink Elephants on Parade, we caught Ash Ferlito’s large felt tapestries, remade after California psychedelic patches, in copy, enlarge & place. There was a life-sized cardboard cutout of crowned Miss Colombia 2014, Ariadna Gutiérrez, altered by Juan Sebastián Peláez to represent the misleading descriptions of women Christopher Columbus famously gave once arriving in America.
Down the hall in Room #4102, Dustin Yellin presented a performance by Azikiwe Mohammed called A New Davonhaime Thrift Store—a store in the fictional town of New Davonhaime, a city named after the summation of the five most densely populated black cities in America. Toward the end, we caught Nick Doyle’s mechanical movement installations—Keeping Up With Appearances (Murder on the Dance Floor) and For Whom the Bell Tolls—and a Los Angeles translation in Vista. His work takes a look at “kinetic retranslations of pop culture iconography taken from film and television” and the “ecstasy of communication-technologies” that has “led us to the contemporary present of crossbred history, cultures, icons, and identities.”
Lastly, we caught Greg Haberny’s installation Unhinged. Through reinventing his pieces over and over again—after cutting them in half, burning them, using their ashes to make finger-paint, etc.—he hinges together his representation of the social structure of the art world, offering a bold alternative to what art is with a deconstruction, reconstruction approach.
Spring/Break founders Ambre Kelly and Andrew Gori should be proud. This was the coolest show of the year.
Spring/Break is open to the public until March 7. A selection of the works can be found for purchase exclusively through Spring/Break and Artsy’s benefit auction. A portion of the sales will be donated to support +POOL—a “non-profit water-filtering roving public pool on the East River.”