In 1996, someone mentioned to Richard Timperio (pictured above) that he should mount a Christmas show at the Planet Thailand cafe on Bedford Avenue. While Timperio isn’t a big fan of Christmas shows — he thinks they’re goofy — he gave it a try and organized the first in what has developed into an annual tradition of inclusive exhibitions that continue to grow.
Timperio’s inaugural show in the now defunct coffee shop was ambitiously titled Christmas at the Prado, the one the year after was Miracle on Bedford Avenue, and this year’s he’s titled the visual orgy of art hung salon style, It’s All Good (Apocalypse Now).
For those who may not know Timperio, he is a legend in Williamsburg. He moved to the neighborhood in 1979 and became part of the area’s vibrant art community. In 1999, he opened the Sideshow Gallery as a space to foster young area artists, and since 2000 the Bedford Avenue gallery has become the natural home for an annual event that serves as a type of art community yearbook, offering everyone a public glimpse of what everyone is up to. In an era when the art world is infested with VIP lists and pretensions, Sideshow’s open format is very refreshing.
When I arrived at the gallery the day before the opening, Timperio was busy with at least half a dozen people trying to finish hanging work before the opening. Last year’s show had 388 artists and 400 works, but this year display has ballooned to include a whopping 500+ works by 453 or so artists.
What makes the show so unique is the surprising juxtaposition of famous artists (Michael Goldberg, Bill Jensen, Judy Pfaff, Larry Poons …) with lesser known talents and even some complete unknowns. He says there is no unifying theme to the shows but he likes the playful titles and wants to keep it as open as possible.
Timperio says his motivation for starting the series was partly because he liked the idea of showing well-known names normally selling at uptown galleries in a small coffee shop in Williamsburg. Since those early days he says that the show “keeps growing, changing and getting better all the time.” He isn’t quite sure why that the quality seems to improve but he suspects it is part out of the trust artists have in him and the show in general. Artists like Larry Poons and Paul Resika have shown in every single “yearbook” show but what makes this annual event particularly interesting is the potential for the unexpected.
It’s All Good (Apocalypse Now) opens Saturday, January 8 (6-9pm) and runs until February 20 at Sideshow Gallery (319 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn).