Art of the Mind
[UN]SEEN finds art in Hell's Kitchen
As the steamroller of development moves, seemingly unstoppable, through Manhattan, we see the loss of many things that lured us to the city in the first place. Amongst the first to fall have been music, performance and art spaces that once nurtured the young, the experimental and the under-represented in the arts. Imagine then, my delight at finding the Fountain Gallery, an unlikely gallery in a very unlikely location. Located on the corner of 48th and Ninth, nestled in the middle of a busy retail and restaurant neighborhood, the Fountain Gallery is an outpost of interesting and edgy art.
Founded in 2000, Fountain Gallery is a non-profit venue that showcases and represents the work of artists living with mental illness. Working with both in-house and guest curators, Fountain Gallery seeks to present work that is truly outside the usual.
For the current exhibition "[Un]Seen," guest curator Elyse Goldberg has gathered a diverse mix of artists, both historic and contemporary. The theme of the exhibition, in Goldberg's words, "In commonality, these artists share a curiosity with the unseen ? creating works that raise questions about thought, vision, social and personal politics, and metaphysical states of mind or spectacle as they relate to the human condition." A bit of a broad definition, after all, isn't this what most artists strive to do? Nonetheless, the show presents an interestingly curated point of view. A strength of the exhibition is that there is no mention of who is or is not creating through the challenge of mental illness. All the works are presented without commentary of any kind. Upon researching, however, one finds that only five of the 25 makers in the show are resident artists from Fountain Gallery, the balance being artists living and working in the mainstream. I think that the curatorial premise of the show might have been better served by a more even balancing of the numbers, still the strengths of the selection shine through.
Ann Fischman's piece, Black Stockings is a beautifully composed collage and painted panel. One seemingly disjointed bit of female imagery flowing seamlessly into another is a pointed meditation on the nature of "female."
Pedro Pascoinho's painting on paper presents a rear view of a man, wearing slightly mysterious retro goggles drawing a straight line across a field of black. Suggesting engineering, mathematics, and exactitude one is then left with the mystery of what he actually sees through his heavy head covering gear.
This is a provocative and intelligent show, worth seeing for its unique and compelling curatorial concept. But even more important, go visit the Fountain Gallery and support this independent and innovative venue.
"[Un]Seen" through July 10 at Fountain Gallery, 702 Ninth Avenue @ 48th St. http://www.fountaingallerynyc.com/index.cfm? 212.262.2756
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