-- A Cyberspace Review Of The Arts

Volume 17.24
October 10, 2010

by Robert Sievert


Colorful guests packed EXIT ART opening night


EXIT ART is a gallery that has been around for 27 years. It had a space downtown where they specialized in fringe art, art that was out of the mainstream. Now Exit Art has morphed into "arts center" that has a space on 10th Avenue and 36th St. This was the site for a new show, ALTERNATIVE HISTORIES, that opened September 24, 2010.

The point of the show was to document the ALTERNATIVE CULTURE of the past 50 years. They focused on art spaces and projects since 1960. A large gallery was used to display posters, menus, other printed matter relating to a project on the wall.




Gallery at EXIT ART: here one can see the set up of wall posters and explanatory essays below on a ledge

Directly below that on a ledge was an essay describing the above art group. It was one of those shows that you had to read. The opening night crowd was a brilliant mix of faces from past and a healthy amount of new faces trying to be seen. Undoubtedly the show drew many viewers from the rich past it was documenting.




Opening night viewers peruse the boxes of documentation

In another room (gallery) was a large table that held document boxes containing records of each project. Boxes were labeled with a project name. Viewers could open and review the contents, provided they wore archival gloves. The table seemed at least 100 feet long. Once several people started opening boxes it seemed to catch on. People began reviewing the documentation. The document boxes were stacked in the middle of a long long table.




Posters and handbills lined the walls of the main gallery at EXIT ART

What was remarkable about the show was really the content. If you lived in New York over the last 50 years you were sure to have visited one of these alternative sites. Judson Poets Theater, PS1, and there was even documentation of FOOD, an artist's coop that ran a restaurant on Prince Street where you could get a bowl of wonderful soup and a slice of hearty home-baked bread for fifty cents. A whole other era was evoked.




Gallery filling up: As the evening wore on more and more patrons arrived

I spoke with Arthur Hughes who had helped to document "Museum A PROJECT OF LIVING ARTISTS." He and fellow organizer of this group John Bauch recounted tales of meetings in lofts on Broadway that grew and grew until they were totally out of hand. This was a different time, the 1970's, when social and political movements involved meetings and groups of people shouting at one another. Today's social networking on the Internet has made this sort of communication passe. However it was exciting to revisit and remember many of these past venues




Two members of the rich history of the exhibition, Lanie Fleischer and Arthur Hughes

A partial list of them includes: 106 Green Street, A.I.R. Gallery, Artists Space, Alternative Museum, Bronx River Art Space, Creative Time, Film Makers Cooperative, Flux Factory, FOOD, Franklyn Furnace, LaMaMa, Socrates Sculpture Park, White Columns, The Kitchen -- in all over 150 groups were represented.




Francis Seigal and John Bausch in the main gallery of EXIT ART

In talking with Frances Siegal, artist, we noted that many of the artists' coops,--Blue Mountain, Bowery, and Prince Street Galleries -- that we had been part of, were not included in the list. It is interesting to speculate why not. These independent galleries have been a strong movement in the art world for over 40 years and were certainly part of the alternative scene. I'm sure the curators had their reasons as well as limitations. But the overall effect of this show is one of recalling a rich history of independent thinking and effort.




Exit Art must be congratulated for it's clear presentation of a massive amount of material

Copyright © 2010 Robert Sievert


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October 10, 2010