Gallery Crawl, Part II: Aferro
After SEED (discussed yesterday), I walked around the corner, right past Rupert Ravens Contemporary, because that is the biggest venue in the city and I intended to end the nite there, to Gallery Aferro, which is also a gallery of size. Indeed, SEED, Aferro, and Rupert's are all good-sized, thanks to Newark's relatively low real-estate costs. As I approached, I saw this sandwich-board sign near the entrance. It was plainly by Kevin Darmanie, who has been a resident in Gallery Aferro's studio program. One way you might guess is that the face on the sign is his.
The first floor was less crowded with works than other Aferro shows I have been to. Indeed, there was only one painting in the front window.
Looks pretty, huh? Look carefully. The design appears to be made from handcuffs. Inside the main space appears this group toward the front.
If you look farther back you can see a puffy, fabric kitchen set. The right element is a stove, and the left, a frij. I don't remember what's in the middle. A dishwasher? I should have taken a foto from head-on, but didn't. You have to see for yourself. In the back is a great big puffy gift box with bow.
At the bottom of the stairs to the second floor are these two intriguing pieces, castings from metal objects. In this first case, the object is a manhole cover.
In the second, both the casting and the object appear together.
Along the left wall farther back is this map of the conterminous United States with what appears to be hair all over it, not quite as tho the country is fur-covered, but more that the shape and surface is defined by multitudinous strands of hair or something like it.
There are also a few two-dimensional works on the left wall that I did not fotograf. I was eager to get upstairs because Robert Lach had told me at the Pierro show that he has the back of Aferro's second floor, where Kevin Darmanie's show had been in April. (Kevin and he share Aferro's basement studio space. Robert has one studio and Kevin the other.) Robert has a brief video on the second floor of the current NJIT show, not far from Matt Gosser's dining table artwork, but I don't have patience for videos. Those of you who do like videos have several to choose from at both NJIT and Gallery Aferro. Indeed, here is a view from the work closest to the stairs in Robert's show toward a video running in the New Media Room at the front of the second floor. Between the two appeared to be nothing. That struck me as odd. There's a difference between a spare exhibition and empty space, at least to me. A wall is a terrible thing to waste. The piece in the foreground is the largest of the nests in Robert's installation, "Dwell".
Below we see the view in the other direction. A fotografer is interviewing and fotografing the artist. My flash distorted the colors of the nearest, and biggest, nest. The color above is more like right. I asked Robert if this work, which is perhaps 6 feet across, is Big Bird's nest. It is not.
Robert says that he got the idea for grouping nests close together from the Great Blue Heron, a bird that is found in New Jersey. I don't think I have seen any in Newark, tho. I have seen smaller, white herons, in Branch Brook Park and along the Passaic River.
The nests are of different types, a few with side entrances. Those are taller than they are wide.
For the bulk of these nests, Robert whittled scrap wood and glued it together.
In this nest, the wood was cedar, and contained the different shades that appear in the nest. They are not from different bits of scrap wood.
In at least one case, however, he used scrap plywood, which he had to cut up with a saw rather than whittle. I think it's the one at the bottom front of the foto that leads off today's post.
Along the walls are scans of various objects, in which the actual three-dimensional object is placed on a flatbed scanner, which then makes a two-dimensional copy of it.
In this next foto, Robert explains his work to two visitors. This foto is fuzzy because I didn't want to use flash since I did not then know the two women. I met them the next day, at the Catfish Fridays show: artists Lynn Presley on the left and Maggie Brown on the right.
The overall concept is described within the exhibit itself by this sign. I included the frame in the original foto but had to crop it out to make the words large enuf to read. The background came out as mottled when I had to briten and zoom in within my graffics program, but this foto is for information, not esthetics.
The Gallery Aferro website shows this alternative conceptual text:
A nest colony constructed from scrap wood materials. Positioned in clusters, like great blue heron rookeries, and suspended in space these nests are set free from their usual constraints in nature. Lach is interested in what it means to create a home. The repetitive sound of "dwell" creates a mantra, the essential element for creating balance, peace, and harmony.Wikipedia uses the term "heronry" for such colonies, "(a more specific term than 'rookery')". In any case, the nests are suspended at different heights and distances to give a sense of how they might be arranged in nature, absent only the trees. You can walk among the nests without bowing to avoid branches. And the wires (filaments?) that suspend the nests do not obstruct the view from any angle, as branches would in nature.
I' not trying to influence anyone, but in case you hadn't already gathered as much, I really like Robert's "Dwell" installation. It's a pleasant place to stay a while. Except for the skull scans. If you go, focus on the nests and walk among them.
As I left Gallery Aferro for Rupert's, I saw the other side of Kevin Darmanie's sandwich sign.
If I read the Gallery's website correctly, the current shows will be on view until November 22nd at 73 Market Street (between University Avenue and Washington Street), (646) 220-3772. Hours: Thursday, Friday and Saturday 12:00-6:00pm.