~170 SUFFOLK . . hell-o !!

MAY 31 – JUNE 5, 2014

a smallish, stylish & absolutely cutting edge awesome pop-up group show – brought to you by the same three indie curators & friends: SEAN VEGEZZI, ANDREW KASS, and ABELINE COHEN . . who brought you – the ground-breaking, and shaking . . 15 WARREN ST, the notorious indie group show that opened this new year, 2014.
with . . a huge bang. bang, bang, outlaw indie no-budget nailed it.

unlike 15 WARREN – I couldn’t make this opening, which I heard was a way wild party bye the way, which I do not doubt for a moment – but I definitely made it my priority to see the show.
just as stunning, 170 SUFFOLK – was completely different in many ways – and yet remained . . a soul sister. no, these guys are not going to repeat themselves, or go formula-istic on you.
yes, they are gonna shake things . . up.
and, yes. they are going to invade, stake a claim, and visually ‘break’ into their ‘found’ site – and, yes, they are going to break-down . . with some really happening, cutting edge art.

coming off our recent artlovers posts . . on alternative/artist efforts . . such as ELSEWHERE, CINDERS, and even, artistswhodothings – including some grassroots JULY 4 patriotism !! – will hopefully lend a little more understanding, a little more context & depth to just what makes these 3 young artist/curators of 15 WARREN ST & now 170 SUFFOLK ST – so uniquely NYC, and that is, in a word: . . . gritty.
hardcore, art gritty.
with a real voice, and not – just an ‘aesthetic’ voice . . of their own.

trying to put it simply, it’s 10 years on now, from when the raw pictorial energy, and ‘new age’ life-force of CINDERS hit the Brooklyn scene, and blew up.
it’s a whole new ‘visual’ voice . . that speaks forth from – 15 WARREN and 170 SUFFOLK.

try this road map . . .
it’s as if the very open and free-form creative energy, future speak narrative of CINDERS went through the mid-decade shock transformation ‘new psychology’ and, graphic elements of PHILIPPE MAYAUX, and came back – in-your-face, NYC free style. and, s-e-r-i-o-u-s.
playful, but serious. not so much in your head, in your dreams, in your personal trip; as in . . your world, the place you have to wake up to everyday. eat breakfast, and go forward.

I think one part of the story is that 15 WARREN ST, and it’s soul sister 170 SUFFOLK – are produced by, and showcase work by local New York City kids, who grew up in NYC schools and streets. and one big part of their specific story – is that their formative years were impacted by 9-ll, which happened right before their very, 10-year old eyes.

another part of the equation is that from day one, in the their strollers and then as they walk the streets, on their on – – they inhabit and breathe in, a very very art-centric city. perhaps the mean streets make you grow up savvy, but irregardless, for sure all New York City kids dwell in a fantastically rich visual world. a mecca of cutting edge media & design, the streets of NYC – are suffused, if not saturated with, in a word: talent. from street tags, to corporate logos. Andre the Giant to COCA-COLA.
street artists and graphic designers, the masters of the universe – for sure.
they get to see a lot of ‘art’ proper too, in this city of multi museums with all their fluttering art-infused banners, and hi-def ads everywhere. kids in New York City know more about art, just from the vantage point of their strollers, and school trips, than you might imagine. just ask any transplanted young artist who comes here, from let’s say Santa Fe, following his art dreams. it’s the first thing they will tell you. how jealous they are of how art savvy the local kids are. even the ones that don’t consider themselves artists, that hang at the few bodegas that haven’t been gentrified, have an amazing eye. you know – they call it street style, and it bubbles up, big.

as for 9-11.
I don’t think anybody has done the definitive study yet, or even really really comprehended its impact, but New York City . . took a big hit with 9-11, and this generation, this group of artists, who were at the most, 10 or 11 at the time, that is . . just beginning to formulate / process the world around them – seem to have been impacted to a degree to which nobody has really addressed, or computed yet.

contrast this to CINDERS, whose 2 co-founders were transplanted New Yorkers, I know Kelie grew up in FLORIDA, I forget exactly where STO hails from – and who both no longer reside here, bye the way. They both came here more or less in their early twenties – and further, most of the Cinders artist roster come from beyond New York City as well. not that that’s a bad thing, the CINDERS culture and mind-set was a huge contribution to the city’s art scene – just saying by way of trying to bring the voices of the new decade – into sharper focus.

when you start to contrast the groups, it seems fairly obvious that while the creative rebels of CINDERS speak up against mass society & global degeneration as a whole, the pop-up shows of SEAN VEGEZZI, ANDREW KASS, and ABELINE COHEN . . are definitely more specifically NYC-centric, and still grappling with the 9-11 attack, and the consequent backlash.

in a word, their shows, 15 WARREN & 170 SUFFOLK are deeply reflective of the aggression and chaos of war – that tore up the very turf of their childhood – i.e. the ‘ashes’ of 9-11. encapsulated in a word, their art is more POLITICAL, often hyper-real, and leaning to the side of more ‘graphic’ – vs/as opposed to the alternative shamanistic & organic mind-set dream ‘visions’ that flowered around the ashes of the ‘old order’ – that CINDERS & crew stomped on . . so gloriously.

further, most of us were NOT 10 or 11 when the Twin Towers went down, we had other milestones that crafted our lives & cultural understandings, be it Woodstock or ANDY WARHOL. so we’re not quite on the same page. it’s a little jarring, and sad – to see where these kids are coming from, and how intense they are about things as basic as – urban security.

but, if like me – you are catching any of the JULY 4 history narratives on TV, specifically HISTORY CHANNEL – and it’s still not even noon – it’s amazing, it’s absolutely stunning . . to hear how the history books are being revised, with a harsh nod to 9-11.
hello, 15 WARREN & 170 SUFFOLK !!

summing up the American War of Independence . . this line is tossed about more frequently than you might imagine, and I don’t recall it being so overtly stressed – before.

to wit: “this 1770’s British naval invasion on New York City was the greatest attack to ever happen on American soil, and on the port of New York City . . . until 9-11.” !!

so put that into your red, white and blue . . crepe paper bunting, while you think back on when you went to school, and 9-11 was not in the picture, or the textbooks, let alone the national dialog . . on July 4th.

in the midst of the cookie cutter galleries that over-populate the Lower East Side and actually, deliberately ‘aspire’ to commercial white boxy-ness, a dirty little interloper, with true finesse – and very chic – in the real meaning of the word . . popped up like a 2 week blooming flower in a city yard full of year-long weeds.

170 SUFFOLK took a raw space and made art, like a master chef takes raw fish and makes .. sushi.

the decades-old letters on the street entrance said, ‘NO’ !!
all the better to say: YES !!

unlike 15 WARREN, this show was smaller, more formal, and more contained, in that things though still site-specific were more orderly, and almost grid-like in how the room was divided among the 13 artists.
repeat, almost.
though if anybody could make heads or tails of the artist accreditation ‘map’ print-out – all the power to them, because I sure couldn’t. but at least unlike 15 WARREN, 170 SUFFOLK did attempt to give names – to the artists behind the works.

it was a match-up made in heaven, the high ceilings and the exposed beams, the found ‘patina’, the deep rectangular viewing space. the works took on an awesome presence, that honed . . their inherent ‘presence of mind’.
translate as: content. in a magical space. win, win.
hardcore beauty.

and, yes that is . . natural light streaming from a skylight in the back.

and, yes that is a tiny American flag, embedded into a small rock, detail installation – by JACK SHANNON.
Happy July 4th !!