"Bring Your Own Art" [BYOA], the X Initiative farewell

By the time I realized that I should look into buying the small Man Bartlett drawing I had seen at "BYOA" the first night, it was gone, and I hadn't even gotten a usable image. This piece, "pointpiece II (constant)" dated 2009, is ink on paper, and roughly 6 by 8 inches, approximately the size of the piece I saw enclosed in plastic and attached to a pillar that Wednesday afternoon. All of Bartlett's art is pure in concept, form and beauty; whether it's been a work on paper or a performance, I've been drawn into each of them even before knowing anything about their context or the artist's purpose.

I could not not go. As soon as I heard that X Initiative was marking the end of its one-year tenancy in the former DIA space on 24th Street with a 24-hour Walter Hopps-inspired event, I was on it. Everyone was invited to bring their own art and install it in the several large Chelsea galleries. They would be open for viewers and participants for 24 consecutive hours.

Of course it was more of a gathering, than a fair, and in spite of the potential for banality, or worse, it differed from events like the hoary, ineluctable, twice-a-year Washington Square art exhibit in the general quality of the art which had been brought through the door (and there were definitely some hot spots), but also in its overall fundamental earnestness and sincerity, its moments of profundity and nuttiness, its odd sweetness, and not least in the fact that, ultimately, it couldn't escape its sad ephemeral reality.

I visited the scene twice, once on Wednesday afternoon, and again just as the event officially ended at eleven the next morning. I would also have been there for the party Wednesday night had I not already committed to attending a Meetup event, "Social Media Art" downtown.

What I did see of the X Initiative's farewell blowout was a rich feast. As soon as I walked in I realized I'd be looking at almost every square inch of the galleries (except for the ceilings, which I think was a safe assumption) to avoid missing something, meaning either the art or the interventions, because while the scale of some of the work installed was fearlessly ambitious, there was much that might have taxed Richard Tuttle's powers of observation.

One cavil: The lighting was tough, even before the sun had entirely set, but that was understandable given the circumstances of this fragile moment

The works described in this entry are just a few of the pieces which pleased the eye, and the camera as well, in the case of those shown below.

Sam Sebren (bunny) used his multiples to line the base of some of the walls. For what you'll probably want to know about the artist, see this discussion.

Cecilia Jurado's Miss Taxi, a three-channel video and photography installation, was in the Queens International 4 a year ago; the images and the footage are taken from a beauty pageant held each year in Queens for relatives of taxi workers

Well, maybe "steal" was misleading, but Adam Simon's "Steal This Art" was just one of a number of excellent pieces in the exhibition which were a part of the remarkable Fine Art Adoption Network [FAAN] founded by the artist and commissioned by Art In General.

Ryan Compton's hand-drawn text pieces grabbed me with their non-sequiturs and cut-up syntax; my favorite read:

Go with the
it's not rocket

Peggy Cyphers showed several exquisite acrylic pieces (on Mylar?), and I still can't get their richly-colored voluptuous shapes out of my head.

Felix and Dexter's small "snapshots" of the artists' interactions with art and community were taped to all four sides of a column and seemed to charm everyone who managed to see them

I have no idea

Judith Hoffman's year-long project requires her to paint one image each day from her local paper (it appears to be the Times), "paying homage to On Kawara and the decline of printed news"; the image of this handsome young calf, dated January 6, is titled "Rare Breeds Frozen Time"

Starscream was only one of several artists there whose work could be described as street art, although in the anarchic configuration of this show their placement in the galleries ended up looking at least as conventional, or "inside", as that of any of the other artists.

I saw several of these posters taped about the place when I went by on Thursday. I assumed it was some kind of guerrilla (or pseudo-guerrilla) poster project. Great styling. I went home and Googled "Alex Gulla" and "Alexcalibur" and I learned that the "project" was only about the electronic rock performance inside the space the previous night. I may have been disappointed on two counts (one of them of course that I had missed the party and the chanteur), but I still have my souvenir flier. The black duct tape was a nice touch.

[image of Man Bartlett's drawing from the artist]

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Published on February 9, 2010 2:50 PM.

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