Thursday, September 15, 2016


Last Thursday was the official beginning of the season with so many openings in the Chelsea art district on the far West Side of Manhattan there was more street traffic clogging the cobblestones in the district than Fifth Avenue at Christmas.
It seemed as if every gallery was having an opening with some of them having lines of attendee hopefuls queuing up behind stations waiting for their turn to see the next new star of the art world.
Now I'm a photography guy so I had rsvp'd for two openings: one for the artist and the other for the gallery. Yancey Richardson has been my go to gallery ever since she opened her doors on Broadway in 1995.
She's since moved her gallery to the Chelsea art district with a prominent street level space making her one of the preeminent photography galleries in the world. We've taken many a client to Yancey's to peruse and purchase from the artists she has found and nurtured over the years.
Her season opening exhibit featured Mitch Epstein's new work titled "Rocks and Clouds".  The event had an early start time where Mitch and Yancey conducted a walk-through of the exhibit. Mitch took us through the gallery and through what went through his head in creating this body of work.
What I was immediately drawn to was the size. These are not digital prints but silver gelatin prints shot with an 8 x 10 field camera making the printing of large scale work a much more difficult task.
Conceptually Mitch talked about how he moved from his investigation of trees to how nature exists in an urban setting, how nature and society interact.  I was struck by the absence of dramatic contrast one would expect with focusing in on the hardness of rock and the ephemeral quality of clouds.
Instead there seemed to be a conscious effort to find middle ground in the images with a narrow tonal range blending the two so that you really had to concentrate on where to find the rocks and where to find the clouds
Like much of art it's the artist's intent that makes their art resonate. Being able to start out the opening of the season with such insight was a gift I was glad I was at the right place at the right time to accept.

A few doors down on the same street as Yancey Richardson is Julie Saul's gallery. One of Julie Saul's favorite artists is Sally Gall. Julie opened her season with a solo show of Sally's work. This was the twelfth time Julie has given Sally a one-woman show.
We originally became aware of Sally years ago when her work was primarily black and white and the imagery existed in caves and on ponds. We loved her work so much we convinced two clients to purchase her image "Canoe" and then bought one for ourselves. The edition is now sold out. There was a softness and romanticism to her work that attracted us, a harkening to hidden spaces.
Her work has evolved from the black and white images we started out with to the addition of color with a flower series to this newest exhibit of laundry in the abstract. At first, when I walked into the gallery I thought perhaps Julie had moved and I was in the wrong space.
This exhibit of Sally's work was so far from what I was expecting I had to stop for a minute and move from disappointment into amazement.
At first glance the images are complete abstractions, color pushed through a kaleidoscope all resting on some intrusive horizontal lines.
Some how Sally has been able to transform laundry billowing in the wind into the idea of flowers and sea creatures and images of flight.
Once I was able to give up my hold of our past relationship I was completely able to embrace this new body of work.

We will be one of three design partnerships taking part in a panel discussion where we'll be grilled on which side of the design fence we're on and how we handle it one of us is on one side and the other has jumped to the other side. Could be very interesting.

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