The atmosphere at Venus Over Manhattan’s exhibit “Where Is Jack Goldstein?” is electric: a fusion of 50s jazz and luau paradiso music create an extraordinarily calming mood and give way to low-level chatter in a dark, dimly-lit concrete cell. Accompanied by the friendliest security guard I have ever encountered and an appropriate mixture of industrial Brooklyn, this exhibit is a must for all art lovers. And the artwork itself is mesmerizing – huge portraits, some of which stand over six feet tall, demand your full attention.
The Artist Is Not Present
In an attempt to revive the career of a deceased artist whose work never quite took off, “Where Is Jack Goldstein?” showcases a wide range of art stemming from a time when modernism and mass produced art found themselves at the orthocenter of American culture. While a vast majority of pieces at the exhibition were not created by Goldstein himself, the credits belong mostly to his overworked and underpaid assistants that he barked around while he was alive.
The pieces mostly reflect themes of naturalism that are starkly juxtaposed to technology and man-made objects. Usually I find such jarring contrasts disruptive and off-putting, but these massive portraits gave off such a majestic aura – I couldn’t get enough. The large-scale prints displayed scenes of lightning bolts, fireworks, planetary objects and other celestial bodies that make you feel like you’re witnessing a rare, catastrophic event in first person (especially because of the human element that has been so forcefully inserted into the pieces so that you feel it’s a symbolic representation of you!). Another common element endemic to much of the artwork there was the consistent use of strong, sharp edges that made the construction of the artwork simultaneously transparent and elusive, creating a very modern and geometric feel to much of the work in the gallery.
“Where Is Jack Goldstein?” is an inspiring exhibition for any art lover because it harkens back to artwork from a simpler time with simpler art (the Patsy Cline music is evidence of that). Go with friends or by yourself for a mid-afternoon meditation session – you won’t be disappointed.
- Venus Over Manhattan – “Where is Jack Goldstein?” – Until February 2nd, 2013 – Tues – Sat: 10am – 6pm
Article by Eric Rydin