As the lines continue to blur between HI/LOW Art, Outsider Art, Public Art, Fine Art, and Street Art, a stunning show hides in the garden hoses.
As we wandered the aisles at the new show at a Brooklyn hardware store (and garden center) that is thick in the migration of hipness between post-cool Williamsburg and wild untamed Bushwick, a lightbulb went on. BA-ZING! This show is not mere novelty! This is where we are in 2010. The walls are being torn down before our eyes.
The massive democratization of arts and culture, with tools ever cheaper and more accessible to any artist with the inclination, is handily jack-hammering the pillars of hallowed art institutions and clipping the locks on the traditional art clubby gates and their keepers. Call it American anti-intellectualism but when you feel no sense of irony or discomfort stalled out and contemplating a tire rubber ram sculpture while next to you a couple is looking at a lawn chair and a greasy handed guy is talking to a salesman about re-wiring a lamp, we’re pierced a veil. While meandering past two young women I overheard them discussing rather deeply their feelings about an illustrated book they had discovered on the shelf and what kind of memories it evoked.
The 198 pieces by more than 140 artists are each hardware themed or inspired. Some are “crafty”, true, and others are merely clever. But a number of pieces utilize their space so well, submerging themselves in their surroundings so completely, or bending your expectations so far, that you’ll have to admit that there may be a genius in the geraniums.
It was the same color of lightbulb that illuminated the day in the early 2000’s when I had attended a conceptual/sculptural/animation show at the now defunct Roebling Hall in Williamsburg and, in a dizzy haze I hit the street and looked at the sky. Overhead the jet stream to JFK and the planes rhythmically appearing in line every 2 minutes across the sky so closely mimicked the installation I had just seen indoors that the transition from art to artful reality was completely seamless. And no mushrooms were involved. Suddenly Street Art, this new explosion we had been documenting and exploring, seemed of the same cloth as any other art that was entrapped behind closed doors.
If you are not too suspicious or jaded, this may be one of the best shows of the season – one that feels equal parts installation and performance, one that challenges common conceptions without an accompanying 4 page exegesis on the inner workings of the mind of the curator. Joe Franquinha is a bright gentleman of course, and it is because of his vision and wanderlust that these artists gladly participate in this show. But as you walk the aisles with your artwork guide in hand you’ll find yourself slipping seamlessly back and forth through worlds you once considered distinct, at times questioning which one you are in at the moment. For my money, it’s a priceless view.
(Through July 30)
(between Union Ave & Lorimer St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211 (718) 388-9521