Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cuchifritos: bootie-licious

Left: The entrance of Cuchifritos Gallery, Installation view: "Collected:Working Space 10". Courtesy of the artists and Cuchifritos Gallery/project space. Photo: Scott Taylor.

On yet another sweltering NYC day, while gallery-hopping through the Lower East Side, I decided to stop by Essex Market, a wonderful locavore outpost that reinvents a neighborhood paradigm from the turn of the century into a thriving food-based marketplace. Luckily for me, I wandered into the cozy corner space of Cuchifritos Gallery, just as the opening for its new exhibit "Collected:Working Space 10" began.

Right: Crocheted floor, by Olek.

Curated by Erin Riley-Lopez, the exhibit features work of the artists in the Lower East Side Rotating Studio Program, housed nearby. The show managed within a confoundingly small space to be a testament to the high caliber of the artists, as well as the range of conceptual work within. Although the works were in video, painting, sculpture and performance, the idea of mark-making outside the boundaries of conventional drawing was profoundly felt.

For instance, Chris Yormick used Connect Four checkers to create a blunt facial pattern, and Natsu's red filament-and-bead web took over a corner of the space. Echoing its organic/cosmic patterning was Olek's camouflage-meets-sportswear carpet, which covered the entire floor. The one actual drawing used marks to extend beyond the paper: Blane de St.Criox's "Gitmo: abandonned camp x-ray" pushed past political authority by using barbed wire's thwarted beauty as mark to suggest freedom's grand schemes unravelled.

Left: pile of used booties.

The artist Olek sat by the entrance offering slippers to all entrants, pantomiming as her mouth was embroidered shut. Her crocheted carpet effectively thrust mark-making into the three-dimensional realm, and labeled each guest as participant. The gallery was taken over by the mark, and within its womb-like space, a sea of pink and purple, each foot trod carefully on the art, each leg yet another mark, extending upward.

Right: Olek, at right, silently waiting to proffer slippers.