Meandering the dim halls of Hunter College’s admittedly hideous MFA Studio Building in Hell’s Kitchen for their recent MFA Open Studios, peering into every open door I could find, I expected to be fascinated by the selection of emerging artists contained within the small, often shared studios — but I did not anticipate being consistently blindsided by the artists’ unexpected plays with the hidden, the participatory, and the startlingly witty.
Three months ago I attended a discussion at Hunter College called towards meaning in a plural painting world. The panel sought to examine today’s multiplicity of painting styles and determine if this is a positive or dilutive development for painting’s meaning as a whole. Last Wednesday, the Pratt Institute took on similar subject matter with a panel titled “Painting Matters Now: a Conversation.”
For many, Sanford Wurmfeld: Color Visions 1966 – 2013 at the Hunter College/Times Square Gallery (February 15–April 30, 2013) will be an introduction to an artist, who, according to the art historian William C. Agee, “may well be the best little-known painter in New York today.” There are many reasons for this oversight, but I want to single out three.
Despite cold, rainy weather, a large audience turned out for “… towards meaning in a plural painting world,” a panel discussion moderated by Katy Siegel at Hunter College’s MFA building. The room was filled with young artists and MFA candidates eager to participate, and the place swelled to standing room only. Siegel explained that the modus operandi for the evening was driven by questions from and conversations had with students, and that it was only necessary to cross the hall or walk downstairs to view artwork from the Hunter MFA Thesis Fall 2012 exhibition.
At the huge protest by the Local 814 art handlers in front of Sotheby’s this Wednesday, the divide between the 1% and the 99% in the art world could not have been clearer. While protesters chanted, whistled and booed from the heavily barricaded picket lines, wealthy auction attendees were rushed into the building by security. Wednesday marked the second of two major contemporary art sales at the auction house that included million dollar masterpieces by Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, de Kooning and Gerhard Richter to name a few. This high profile sale was the most opportune time for the art handlers to make their voices heard and let Sotheby’s know that will not accept no for an answer on a better contract agreement.
Before heading to Sotheby’s I met with members of Occupy Museums at Zuccotti Park who have taken on the struggle of the locked-out art handlers and have joined them in protests against Sotheby’s. After searching through the maze of tents that have recently sprung up in the park, I finally found Blithe Riley holding a mini General Assembly to get participants ready for the evening’s action: Occupy Sotheby’s. Riley, who is a member of Occupy Museums and the OWS Labor Outreach Committee, told the small crowd, “Occupy Wall Street stands with organized labor.”
The Hunter College MFA These Exhibition opens tomorrow (Wednesday, May 19, 2010) and will feature the work of 22 emerging talents. Located near Times Square, the exhibition venue will also be hosting a free panel discussion this Saturday, May 22, featuring major art world figures, including artist Carol Bove, dealer Gavin Brown, art historian David Joselit, and curator Adam Kleinman.