25CPW: Artists Turn Empty Upper West Side Space into Den of the Aesthetic
Ten artists found a way to make vacant commercial space incredibly exciting. I wandered by 25 Central Park West on a walk in my neighborhood a few days ago and saw artists inside. They were hard at work cleaning, preparing and hanging their pieces. Tapping on the window was one of my smartest moves this week. By doing so, I learned of a new exhibition, which opened Wednesday night. The show, 10 from 25: Emerging Artists using Photography, is set to run through December 13, 2009. It includes flat art and video, bringing to life an empty space in a part of Manhattan generally forgotten by the art community.
The artists, including Bess Greenberg, who gave me a tour of the space as she and the other artists prepared for opening night, have created an integrated show that doesn't sacrifice the message of each of the participants. So, in addition to a group exhibition, visitors are treated to 10 individual efforts, in which one can appreciate a specific style without having to cope with the intrusion of other pieces on his experience.
Photography, as the show's title indicates, is the common thread that runs through the 10 experiences on display at 25 Central Park West, but this medium is really a starting point rather than the total. Some photographic art is presented (and gives plenty of cause to stop, look and ponder), but many of the pieces use a photograph in place of canvas or base. What is done to the photograph excites.
The white walls of the ground floor space provide a stark backdrop for the vivid works suspended from them. Be sure to explore the room all the way to the back wall: that's where you'll find a somewhat dark stairway. The door's open for a reason, as you'll see when you complete your descent. The basement houses several video installations – raw content in a raw environment. Art and ambiance are fused below ground, paired perfectly.
The art and real estate markets both have fallen victim to dismal economic conditions, but the artists of 25CPW have overcome both, staging a very well-attended opening night in a donated vacant space in what would otherwise be a financially inaccessible neighborhood – the Upper West Side definitely isn't cheap, especially that far down Central Park West. Thus, the show's overarching message, whether intended or not, is that, with a bit of ingenuity, a commitment to the aesthetic can overcome the roadblocks thrown down by financial markets.
25CPW shows us that art, first, is about art.
[Photo and video by Tom Johansmeyer]
Many thanks to Bess Greenberg for showing me around (when she probably wanted to focus on the task at hand). Luxist wishes her and the other artists – Angela Beallor, Teresa Christiansen, Kim Kremer, Rebecca (Marks) Leopold, Jamie Lund, paul Qaysi, Hyla Skopitz, Adam Ward and Alyssa Taylor Wendt – the best of luck in this show and all future pursuits.