Installation view of Peter (photos by the author)

Last week, I spent one or two days wandering aimlessly through the streets of the Lower East Side, Chelsea and Brooklyn. There are a number of notable exhibitions at the moment. It’s inspiring to see Richard Serra’s columns of rust colored testosterone at Gagosian or Jim Hodges’s splashy installation at Gladstone Gallery. I’ve felt a bit unsettled as of late. Like a highly trained mouse, running through a maze of art, it is easy to feel art-weary. I love art galleries, don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that the institutionalization of art is new; I just don’t think things have ever been so widespread.

Works by Stankiewitz

That this week marks the beginning of the Miami Beach makes me think how much focus has been placed on the international art market. For this reason there is nothing more refreshing than to find a creative backwater. The term “alternative space” is bandied around a lot. Artists Space, White Columns, The Kitchen and a handful of other downtown institutions have been favorites in this respect for years. Farting around Bushwick there are a number of artist-run galleries, but also those fun, semi-ubiquitous apartment shows.

An installation view (click to enlarge)

The pop up alternative exhibition has become a digital alternative to the fixed “alternative” space of yesteryear. Most of these experiments are on Brooklyn or the Lower East Side, and unusually accompanied by a fair mess of e-hype.

When I was invited by a close friend to accompany her to Second Guest Projects, an apartment space in the East Village, I couldn’t help but smile. Here was the respite from the free tote bag giveaway credit card and Ford Taurus-sponsored art world that can be so headache inducing.

Our gracious hosts transformed their guest bedroom into a semi-permanent living room for art. The artist Peter Stankiewicz’s abstract ramshackle lends itself to the informal environment. His cardboard, “Styrofoam,” plastic painted modernist sculptures filled the white room with colorful whimsy. The maquette-style army of mini sculptures were all the more endearing for their heroic-overtones. I was reminded of a miniature world of modernist whimsy.

The artist’s works on paper are another brand of self-imagined nostalgia. His loose, biomorphic play loosely on the vintage prints the artist uses as a support. Normally I might have found the whole thing a bit stuffy. Luckily it’s pretty hard to feel pretentious in a re-purposed bedroom. The artist’s sculptures have the space to breathe, away from any expectation to sell or impress they behave like entertaining house guests. I was happy to see Peter’s art, I had never seen it before, nor was there any reference to it online. With no background to rely on, it felt refreshing to be forced to face off directly with the art.

All exhibitions at Second Guest Projects (184 East 2nd Street, East Village, Manhattan) is by appointment only. Please email secondguestprojects [at] gmail [dot] com.

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