This is a weird analogy, but here goes. I like me a good prosciutto and mutz hero now and then. I know what I'm getting, but it's a bit different depending on which deli I go to. That's how I felt going to Brett Amory's third show at Jonathan LeVine Gallery; anticipation to see his work and knowing basically what I'm going to get, yet each show is different. And I always leave feeling satiated and thinking about the next one.
Speaking of food, first up is this painting of Katz's Deli. On the corner of Houston and Ludlow in New York's lower east side and a place I frequented when I lived there and still do (by the way, if you ever go there, do yourself a favor and get the pastrami on rye. Nuff said.) All the paintings in this show are from the east village and lower east side.
Now here comes the twist I alluded to earlier. Some of these places are gone, like CBGBs. What Amory does is create a haunting illusion, a spectre of the past establishment by painting it in color and the rest of the painting in black and white. Simple, yet creative and very effective. You know the feeling when you are with someone and you point out where you used to live or went to school, and they just don't have the same feeling you do because they didn't experience it? It's like that.
|Mr. Amory with his CBGB painting|
The Mars Bar was a classic dive, and hung in there against gentrification til just a few years ago. It wasn't uncommon to go take a leak and find syringes in the toilet. The place was gross and shitty, but it was "our" gross and shitty.
Amory combines realistic imagery in a loose, dreamy way with a strong sense of graphic design as he edits out certain details and combines rendered images with bold areas of flat color or white or black. Check out the dark areas in his previous night time urban paintings. He goes back to that in these two night paintings. Another divey bar, Lucy's (right), and the Pyramid Club (below). I remember going to the Pyramid in the 80s and then around 2005 sweating it out at an 80s New Wave tribute night. Full circle. Although in '05 I didn't hear the sounds of broken crack vials crunching under my combat boots as I walked down Avenue A.
Cup and Saucer is a diner type restaurant in the lower east side. There are alot of artists that paint urban sights, famous places, signage, etc. Amory does the time capsule thing, too, but with his unique imprint, design/composition sense, and painting skills these pieces become more than just documentation.
Brett Amory's "This Land Is Not For Sale: Forgotten, Past, and Foreseeable Futures," is on display from October 15 - November 14, 2015 at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, 557C W. 23rd Street in New York City. I highly recommend you see this rich exhibit, especially if you share personal experiences with these places as I do. Or not. It's an excellent show either way. And since this particular post has alot of personal moments in it, below is Jonathan and I at the opening. The photo was taken by my wife, Courtney, whom I proposed to at Jonathan's gallery and we're celebrating our 4th anniversary this week!