By J. Taylor Basker

Diversity is in the splendid DNA of New York City.  The exhibit West Side Expo Sure of art produced by staff of the Whitney Museum at Westbeth Gallery reflects this quality. The Whitney Museum, unique in the concept of most museums, doesn’t wait for artists to die to show their art.  Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was determined to collect, exhibit and support living artists. She began this in her Greenwich Village studio in 1914. Now the museum has returned to our neighborhood from its sojourn uptown. Perhaps the high quality of its exhibits, programs, and curating reflects that many of its staff are artists themselves.  Their eyes and sensibilities help select art that authentically speaks to the contemporary zeitgeist. This is the sixth exhibit of its Staff Art Show in a public space, where these artists emerge from behind the scenes and reveal their own art out front.

Westside Exposure describes the current situation of the artworld – there are no prevailing –isms.  They are all there: Realism (Bronwyn Roe, Over Yonder) to Conceptualism (William Hempel, This Artwork Is Not True); traditional oil paint on canvas (Nathan J. Smith, Portrait of Child, David), to video installations (Christine Lin, I Cast A Spell On The City),  multimedia found objects (Eleanor Lovinsky (Forgotton) to fish ink print (Nora Gomez-Strauss, Black Sea Bass), from obsession with the minute in an assemblage of tiny photos (Heather Cox, Mirror) to a massive scale foot (Elissa Medina, Ornament and Crime)Seventy-four artists display the radical diversity of individuals creatively making unique statements in a wide variety of media from embroidery (Sarah Fortini, Mother of Pearl) to digital ink-jet prints (Reagan Brown, Le Bagnaie, Italy). Despite that many Americans are now feeling stressed and depressed over the current political situation, there is a lightness and sense of humor in this show as the large puffy wall hanging in pink and white satin with glitter (Emily Jacoby, You Don’t Know Me) at the entrance and the impressive cheerful paper sculpture (Doug Madill of the Security Department, Paper-cut Carousel). There is a lot of pink and sparkles (Barbie influence?) as the pink acrylic, glitter, yarn and felt piece by an artist from the Visitor and Member Experience Department (Caitlin Jones (There is a Downtown Local 6). Artists always have a prophetic vision; it is hoped that this democracy of artworks predicts the preservation of democracy in the body politic as it now resides in the body aesthetic. 

A blue foot sculpture on a white surface

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Elissa Medina, Ornament and Crime, Stoneware, 2022. Photo by J. Taylor Basker

William Hampel, This Artwork Is Not True, Screen-print on aluminum, 2023. Photo by J. Taylor Basker

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