Crack A Smile!

The opening of “The Young Collectors Exhibition” at Leila Heller Gallery was definitely an eye-catching event. On view were 114 works by over 30 artists, all displayed salon style, over the range of three rooms. The gallery definitely pulled out their best tricks to make this a memorable opening: waiters were carrying round trays of champagne, there was at least three different kinds of hors d’oeuvres, a live DJ, and rooms full of beautiful people. With all pieces sold for $500-5,000, with 10% of the proceedings going towards Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, it was really fantastic to experience art sales being directed towards positive and noble causes.


So Who Are These Young Collectors?


The Young Collectors were of course the viewers, given the opportunity to start curating their own collection with affordable artworks. Although I have no idea where 20 or 30 something year olds are getting that kind of money. If you are looking at it as an event to present the artists and sell their work, then all the right components were present: good looking people, food, champagne, waiters, and live music. 


The layout of the exhibition – salon style – also added to the decadent atmosphere, though it was a bit risky of a choice. I understand where the curators Alexandra Wagle and Laura Mintz are coming from: to recreate an old school salon style exhibit. This approach allows you to view and compare the artists together, especially since the works were going on auction. Although salon style can definitely be a bit risky and dangerous just because they immediately remind one of university life – an attempt to make all the students mingle and force them to compare and comment on each others work. As a result, the installation left the works feeling tight and cramped. The overall amount of them was really overwhelming and I really wish I would have been able to appreciate each work individually. 


Searching for the Highlights


There were definitely individual works that were stunning and would have been even more impactful were they given the deserved space. Some pieces just did not make sense next to the others. The standouts however were lovely and stunning.  Andrew Hart’s photographs of paper cutouts with equally as captivating and cheeky titles such as “Ominous Presence: Bunny” and “Suicide Series: Mouse” were comical, sweet, and overall delightful. Soodi Sharifi’s mixed media works from her Persian Delights series with a contemporary outlook on Indian miniatures in the modern context, juxtaposing the original imagery with cutouts of modern Muslim women engaging in daily activities, highlighted the cultural boundary between time and space. Zac Buehner’s delicate paper works were beautiful in their scaled size, design, and the fragility of each individual paper strand. 

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