Focus On Gallery Opening: Progeny! Closing reception at EFA Project Space, NYC
Updated: Feb 7, 2019
The recent "arctic blast," as news channels have colorfully and dramatically described the cold front along the east coast in late December and early January, made a powerful case against going to a gallery opening on Friday January 5th a few weeks ago. That night, however, I overcame the cold in order to attend the closing reception for Progeny! at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Project Space. And I am so glad that I did.
Progeny! was a show that explored connections in art between family members that have each their respective creative practice. Works were often shown in pairs in near proximity to one another in the gallery. Such as was the case with Liz Magic Laser, a video artist and creative documentarian being shown next to her mother Wendy Osserman, a contemporary dancer who founded the Wendy Osserman Dance Company here NYC.
The show was curated by David Levine, Prem Krishnamurthy, and Michelle Levy. All three curators also wear many hats within their professional careers. Levy is a video and performance artist as well as being the Director of EFA Project Space. Levine is a conceptual artist and writer, as well as being one of the artists featured in Progeny! He showed past work alongside his mother Anne-Marie Levine, who works in sculpture, music, and poetry. Krishnamurthy is a designer, writer, and cofounder of the design workshop Projects Projects.
The family theme thread strongly throughout the show. As part of the closing reception, an experimental gallery discussion was held with psychoanalyst Jamieson Webster. Webster ad libbed an analysis and conversation about the works with two of the three curators, Levine and Levy, and some of the artists who were also present for the finissage. Together they went through the whole gallery discussing the show. Both the curators and artists tended to speak about the individuality of each piece or pairing. While the curators offered context and insights regarding their selection process, the artists spoke to their creative processes and their personal connection to either the work or family member they were being shown with. Webster, on the other hand, offered a psychoanalytic reading that touched more globally on familial psychodynamics and where they were visible in individual works and throughout the show itself.
Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Project Space closing reception gallery talk for Progeny!
Photo courtesy of Sarah Goodchild Robb
Though the walk-through was fairly informal-- the speakers acknowledged it was an experiment and they often seemed to play off each other's spontaneous observations--I found I enjoyed the organic format. Much like a therapy session itself, it allowed for curator-artist-psychoanalyst to all have a voice, a fluid and creative interpretation, and a dialog. While I don't think that art should regularly be subjected to the lens of psychoanalysis, I do think there is value in playing with different formats when it comes to engaging viewers with art. Additionally, given the themes within the show, I found it an appropriate experiment.
Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (EFA) is a nonprofit organization located in the Garment District in Manhattan and one worth visiting. In addition to the EFA Project Space Program, there is the EFA Studio Program, which has an annual open call for access to subsidized studios, and finally the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Program, that provides access to printmaking facilities for an annual membership fee for $35. Workshop classes are offered for additional costs, but members enjoy discounts on those as well as access to exhibition opportunities.