Curated by Michael Klein
Shirley Fiterman Art Center, BMCC
November 24, 2015 – January 16, 2016
New York City has always been a remarkable and generous model for artists, one who is not afraid to show her good or bad sides. She is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and access to New York City is easy, by bus or subway or on foot. In response to this somewhat overwhelming concrete model, artists have turned urban inspirations into many forms, formats and means of expression.
For artists of any generation who have made their way to New York City and live and work here, the city is a living laboratory; a dynamic world of streets, avenues and alleys, bridges and tunnels. There are buildings big and small, from minute to colossal in scale, with pedestrians everywhere and endless traffic. For some, nature exists outside the realm of possibilities in this city; for others nature is very much a part of city life.
In whatever manner, the artist in New York City is inspired by immediate intoxication or a subtle influence extending over days, months and years, an accumulation of experiences that happen without even noticing them. Many artists become observers of the day-to-day life of the city, reporting back from their studios, or simply absorbing what they see and translating it onto canvas or into sculptural forms. There is no single reaction to the city; night or day, its energy and activities are both enticing and unpredictable. The diverse range of works presented in CITY LIVES underscores this proposition. However, the selection of artists here is certainly in no way complete; this is a topic and theme that has many proponents and could be expanded in many more directions. There are also historic precedents that could tell an even bigger story. These artists do not represent a movement or school of art, though they may share feelings and thoughts about the city; instead they are individuals whose artistic goals come together in imaginative and surprising ways.
So then how does the city appear today in art? Furthermore what are the ways in which the life of the city makes its way into the mind set of artists living here?
For Kathy Forer the city is a very intimate locale and a narrative that lies just behind the scenes portrayed in her works; it creates a backstory that in many instances the viewer will never know…. Forer recalls events and episodes of city life in clay. Her tableaux are a mixture of fact and fiction. In one small work we see the modern lines of an empty apartment of a famous New York City art dealer. In another we have a birds-eye view of an area of Central Park which, as she pointed out in a studio visit, is the location of the famous Central Park jogger assault case from the late 1980s.