Heist and Humidity

Written by Melissa Stern on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.

Summer in New York is
long, slow, hot and brutal—especially for art galleries. Many of the
people who might actually buy something are out of town, and the
traditional tourist is not known as a big art consumer. Few artists or
galleries want to commit the time and money to a one-person show. Hence
the rise of the phenomenon known as the “summer group show.” Galleries
come up with overarching themes that give them good excuse to mount
large group shows that often have a little of something for
everyone.They’re lots of fun, but rarely earth shattering.

Gallery on the Lower East Side is hoping to change that.The Essex
Street gallery has decided to devote its entire summer to shows about
New York City. Entitled “The City’s Summer Heist,” the programming
involves a series of quick hit two-week exhibitions that will alternate
between solo and two-person shows, mounted both inside and outside of
the gallery itself and will include video, photography, performance,
sculpture and painting that all relates to summer in the City. The
summer programming began on June 30 with site-specific video
installations by Liz Magic Laser. The display consists of three
performance-based video and photographic works set in bank vestibules.
She has produced a version of the Bertolt Brecht play Man Equals Man in the vestibule of a Chase bank branch. Man’s relationship to ATM? It will be interesting to see what it all means.

second show is a twofer. Tim Hailey and Milton Carter do not explicitly
work together, but the curator has paired them, in a series of events
woven together by their fascination with motorcycle culture and
promises the project will “thrill and shock” gallery viewers (not to
mention the neighbors). Ladies
and Gentlemen, start your engines! Personally, I think Evil Knivel
jumping the fountains at Cesar’s Palace represented the ultimate
motorcycle art, but perhaps Tim and Milton can top it.

number three is a multimedia and video performance TV show by Jennifer
Sullivan. She will set up what looks like a nutty TV studio in the
gallery and produce a daily program that will star both her and her
artwork. The gallery press release promises “possible disaster.” Heist’s
owner Talia Eisenberg says, “We don’t know exactly what the show
entails because we are giving her full creative reign starting from day
one through the end of the second week.” So far, the gallery
programming seems to promise both thrills and danger. I guess that’s
all part of life here in Sin City. Stay tuned.

The fourth and
most intriguing exhibition is in more traditional-looking media and
depicts radically different visions of the city.Tim Feigenbaum’s
“Trainset Ghetto” will attempt to create a cinematic, hyper-real
miniature environment based on 1980s-era decaying New York City—using
model railroad supplies he has created an empty film set of our town.
Eerie, beautiful lighting gives these pieces a surreal glow. Marissa
Blustones’ large paintings depict a dream-like vacation from the city
that becomes a nightmare. Semi-clothed figures dot a rural landscape
that seems ready to explode upon impact. Lush and colorful, these
scenes are truly terrifying. The moral of the story is never leave the city! It’s a jungle out there.

The City’s Summer Heist
Through Aug. 30, Heist Gallery, 27 Essex St. (betw. Hester & Grand Sts.), 212-253-0451; Thurs.-Sun., noon-6, FREE.