There is some kind of uneasy & beautiful feeling I get when wandering around industrial areas of Brooklyn, dodging open fire hydrants & broken bottles, and descending into the long cool basements of hidden Bushwick art galleries! Sometimes even to reemerge on the other end, climbing into a yard of cold beers and people milling about concrete yards or, like my most recent experience, freshly trimmed grass in a landscaped secret garden! Airplane, as their website so succinctly says, "is a Bushwick artspace devoted to an experimental approach towards the engagement of the viewing public through curated shows, food events, seminars and collaborations." The opening I was lucky enough to come across was curated by (The Great and Wonderful) Rico Gatson, an artist of the nicest disposition whose personal artwork continues to push boundaries and whose eye has a particular kind of strangeness I think I love!
Gatson has compiled is titled Grounded, a contemporary sculpture show whose pieces come together to make a strange little city out of looming structures, each with distinct voices speaking in every type of media, all working together to tell a story of the current state of contemporary sculpture and, by extension, the concerns of current culture. I didn't have enough time to really take in the show as I would have liked but there were two pieces that I turned to immediately. One was Oliver Jones' large, red plastic text letters attached to metal frames that, if I am not mistaken, were part of his "Cistercian Wilderness" piece from 2011 that spell out the motto of a group of medieval monks: "Work & Pray." The artist urges these words be interpreted as a call back to simplification through thoughtful living and a "re-wilding" of our landscapes (something that was most definitely happening in the stunning gallery yard surrounded by factories and trash!). Both of these themes (re-wilding & mindfulness) were oddly present throughout this show even despite the fact that one could easily see art objects as manifestations of the most frivolous/unnatural sort. The potential for frivolity in these art objects is quickly grounded since 1. much of the show's work is made of discarded elements bringing a sense of "being/attention in space" to the normally overlooked, 2. the sculptures are handmade creative expressions that remind of the human behind "the thing," and 3. all innovative art is really a form of "re-wilding" as artists cut through space to upset the everyday. The other piece I was (completely unexpectedly) drawn to was Björn Meyer-Ebrecht's sculpture of single paperback books about art & society wedged into small towers: practice/energy creates something concrete while knowledge/theory is static, fleeting, just out of reach... a pinnacle we should strive for and build towards understanding but must do so through action and creation!
Airplane. 70 Jefferson St. Brooklyn. NY. 11206. Sun: 12-6.