Exhibition: June 26th – July 2nd, 2017
All Art +: Here Comes the Neighborhood
Painting is one of New York’s great cottage industries. We put paint on everything: buildings, theater sets, fabric, cars, pets, and ourselves. But in the end, it’s the fine art painters who own the most acreage in this city’s mythic consciousness. The painter in New York is assumed to be a rugged individual, iconoclastic and free of the structures of conformity (yet at the same time mysteriously famous).
Yet even the worthiest New York painters are as common as pigeons. If they could fly, they’d fill the sky over Manhattan so densely the sun wouldn’t get through.
New York has so much art in it that it has developed the most rigorous connoisseurship in the world. And that’s precisely why Adriaan van der Plas runs a show in his gallery that hasn’t been curated at all.
This is dangerous territory. Everyone dives into a pool of awkwardness and potential schlock. All Art + will consider anyone.
“Everybody is welcome,” van der Plas explains, gesticulating at the wrapped-up paintings that are taking over his gallery’s bottom floor. “I’m asking outsiders to show their artwork.”
“Forty seems like a lot,” one of van der Plas’s assistants says nervously. “I was hoping for sixty,” he tells her, and goes back to rhapsodizing about the experience. “I wanted to try something new. I’m looking for talent. For me, this is a great opportunity that I will continue on a monthly basis until I have something else going on.” He shifts gears momentarily. “You don’t have to go to school to show your artwork,” he says.
No matter what genre these pieces belong to—and many don’t belong to any genre at all—they’re remarkable for their sincerity. Take for example two reverent tableaux of the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls by Alan Vladusic, two Chinese calligraphic works on love and justice by Vincent Zhao, or the spooky interior by Joan Ryan called “Robot Food.” There’s humor too, in a green gryphon by Sally Eckhoff who for all his fierceness is apparently having a lousy time. Not everything appeals to the director. “I don’t know what to do with this one,” he says, tipping a canvas away from the wall to reveal its rioting impasto. But he’ll hang it anyway, unless it’s too sensationalistic.
Asked how he can devote his premium wall space to such untried work, he explains that the character of the artists interests him as much as the art. “I wanted to be a purist,” he adds. “But that’s not me.”
“It takes time. Somebody will come out of this. The shy person, or the professor who hasn’t shown in a long time. Give that person a chance. It’s like a zoo of mixed animals,” he concludes. The difference is, no one wants to escape. In this zoo, the animals want to get in.
Jason A. Cina
Joan Di Lieto
Written by Sally Eckhoff