Art

Connecting the Dotts at Winkleman Gallery

An installation view of "Dotto Lotto" at Winkleman Gallery's Curatorial Research Lab. (All images by the author)

Winkleman gallery’s newest exhibition Cool Guys Like You by Jennifer Dalton is a must see. You should go and get a 25 cent temporary tattoo, and check out her disarming info graphics about media talk show media coverage.What really excited me though wasn’t the headliner, but the playful, color blasted back room of the gallery.

If you’ve ever been to Winkleman, perhaps you’ve noticed, the back room labeled “curatorial research lab.” The initiative was started in 2010 to give independent curators and art historians an autonomous space to muck about it. The program is run entirely by invited curators and doesn’t coincide with the gallery’s main program.

Another installation shot of "Dotto Lotto" (click to enlarge)

Despite the New Museum-esque title the idea has turned out to be a pretty big hit. Currently in the space is Dotto Lotto by artist Melissa Brown. Curated and organized by Julie Chae. Dotto Lotto is an installation and crowd sourced drawing project. The artist distributed over 3,000 return to sender postcards across the New York City area.

Her connect the dot themed templates provide a blank slate for individual art-making. Brown’s efforts are so interesting particularly because of their widespread reach. The artist distributed 1/3 of her cards to inside art world contact — curators, artists, gallerists… — and another 1/3 to New York Public School teachers, for use in art class. She slipped the final 1/3 of her cards into magazines and newspapers in newsstands around New York.

The resulting floor to ceiling installation is a testament to the universal pleasure of creative time. The most fantastic effect of the whole card plastered room is that its hard to, at first glance, distinguish the work of the fourth graders from the famous curators or NYC tourists.

Like the front room installation by Dalton, it’s a reminder that sometimes the most rewarding results come from being honest and inclusive. It’s a reminder that the cool thing to do isn’t always best thing to do; sometimes it’s just as fun to bring little kids and fat German tourists into your art project.

A close-up of some of the "Dotto Lotto" postcards.

I’m as much a fan of artist-curator projects as much as the next guy (maybe that’s not true.) I really did like Vik Muniz’s Rebus at the Museum of Modern Art a couple of years ago. The unfortunate thing about some of those projects is that it leads to a lot of nearly unbearable curatorial naval gazing and high minded nothing talk. Artist-curators please take note; I’d love to see more projects like this. At the end of the day Dotto Lotto is successful because it’s inclusive, fun to look at and doesn’t pretend to be more than what it is.

Dotto Lotto continues at Winkleman Gallery (621 W 27th Street,Chelsea, Manhattan) until October 15.

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