Exhibit at NurtureART showcases the value of free art

This art is a steal!

for The Brooklyn Paper
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If it’s free, is it art?

A new exhibit questions the value and valuing of art, with pieces like a metal bowl of ice holding a bottle of lemonade on a pedestal, a contradictory sign reading “please, don’t touch the art” and “please help yourself.”

“They have to think about it and decide what to do with the piece,” said artist Shinsuke Aso. “If the audience comes to the conclusion that it’s not art, they can drink the lemonade. If they think it’s art, they can’t touch it.”

The new exhibit “Is This Free?” at Bushwick’s NurtureART gallery is a playful look at the economy of fine arts when the economy is in a serious funk.

“It’s pretty clear why it’s happening,” curator Marco Antonini said.

“The financial crisis is changing the way artists see themselves. They see that they can’t be supported by the art market anymore, so they have to change their distribution process. They need to find ways to make art other than relying on selling it.”

And with a market unwilling to buy, artists’ works have nowhere to go — as the exhibit will demonstrate with a gratuitous three openings, all on the same wall space.

The show’s first opening was on July 6, its second is on Aug. 3, and its third on Aug. 31. The materials from the openings will be piled right on top of each other.

“The first one is sparse and minimal,” said Antonini. “[But] by the end, it will be a mess. The idea is to let the art accumulate, because when things are free, people tend to horde them.”

Another artist, Carrie Dashow, is working on a project for the Aug. 31 opening based on the imagined scenario that the priceless artwork housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art would hang in the average Brooklyn household — with a Carvaggio or Egyptian sarcophagus displayed in narrow hallways across the borough like a fine arts timeshare.

And no matter how beautiful, no matter how compelling, none of the art is for sale.

In fact, one of the pieces featured in the exhibit will be kept entirely from gallery-goer’s eyes.

Elisabeth Smolarz will strip naked to perform a series of simple and delicate gestures involving the eating of fruit, but her piece — titled “TANSTAFA,” or There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Art — will occur behind closed doors. The piece aims to frustrate the expectations of the public, demonstrating value through exclusivity.

But in addition to the new pieces, the exhibit will have examples of formerly free art that went on to be worth high dollar values, such as posters that conceptual artist Jenny Holzer wheatpasted around Manhattan in the 1970s and original pins that Keith Haring handed out in the 1980s.

“Is This Free?” at NurtureART [56 Bogart St., at Harrison Place in Bushwick, (718) 782–7755,] Running through Sept. 22.

Updated 5:34 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Homey from Crooklyn says:
I'ma drop by and chug the whole pitcher.
Aug. 2, 2012, 9:09 am
Malembi from BK says:
How ——ing gay is this
Aug. 2, 2012, 12:02 pm
Demeo from NowUpstate says:
go home f---ing hipster transplants.
Aug. 2, 2012, 12:25 pm
Terry from soho says:
who are these ridiculous people invading Brooklyn? with their mediocre art, artisinal food, acting like disrespectful a-holes, all the while claming Brooklyn as their own?

Brooklyn was more fun when it was crime infested in the 70's.
Aug. 2, 2012, 12:28 pm
Mickey Shea from Greenpoint says:
Artists my ass...overgrown toddlers is more like it.
Aug. 2, 2012, 12:52 pm
ty from pps says:
The more and more I read comments from self-righteous "locals," the more I'm thinking they've been living their whole lives in Brooklyn with their heads up their arses.

It's hilarious that you think these artist-types are a new thing in Brooklyn. They've always been here and always will be. Perhaps it's time for you to move to Nassau County or New Jersey with the rest of your friends and family...
Aug. 2, 2012, 1:40 pm
Mickey Shea from Greenpoint says:
Ty if you think putting a pitcher of lemonade on a pedestal is art, then you're just as retarded as they are.
Aug. 2, 2012, 1:47 pm
SwampYankee from Ruined Pants says:
If I poop my pants and put it on a pedestal, is that art?
Aug. 2, 2012, 2:06 pm
Malembi from BK says:
No, not for you. I'de call that "the norm".
Aug. 2, 2012, 2:23 pm
ty from pps says:
I'm not endorsing the artistic merit here... I'm just pointing out how stupid and self-righteous all of your "locals" are. There is nothing particularly new about any of these things that you seem to express such deep resentment for.

Brooklyn and New York have always been filled with "outsiders" doing things you and all of the generations before your may have considered weird, strange, pointless, etc. But yes, because you've decided it's not acceptable, this particular "crop" of hipsters triggers your moral outrage. This group of hipster (unlike the millions that came before them) are ruining Brooklyn. Yes. I see.
Aug. 2, 2012, 2:34 pm
K. from ArKady says:
It's ironic that more wealthy people live now in Brooklyn than perhaps at any time in the past. They do not for the most part buy art. This has less to do with the recent economic woes and more to do with current NYC culture in general, don't you think?
Aug. 2, 2012, 2:40 pm
The Biker who wonders what happened to Lovefist from Las Colinas (LS, SA) says:

I'm from nowhere near Brooklyn, yet I sympathize and agree 110% with the Brooklyn Natives about these snarky, attention starved, overgrown toddler fauxhemians. Hiptards behave like hiptards no matter where they are.
Aug. 2, 2012, 3:12 pm
horndog bk from jizzpants says:
all i wanna know is if the chick that is stripping allows photos -- and is she hot
Aug. 2, 2012, 7:37 pm
The Biker who wonders what happened to Lovefist from Las Colinas (LS, SA) says:

Take a look at the pic. She's the chick in black. If your'e turned on by chicks who are built like death camp survivors or victims of famine, then knock yourself out.
Aug. 3, 2012, 12:48 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Elisabeth Smolarz will strip naked to perform a series of simple and delicate gestures involving the eating of fruit.
She's gonna fellate a banana ?
Aug. 3, 2012, 8:40 am
dro from a van down by the river says:
wtf The Biker who...?!? what's wrong with you? do you even know that girl? she's a smart, witty, likeable, creative and educated woman. google her.
Aug. 5, 2012, 7:01 pm
The Biker who wonders what happened to Lovefist from Las Colinas (LS, SA) says:
@dro from a van down by the river says:

She may be all of those things, but she's still built like a death camp victim suffering from malnutrition. The broad needs to eat and get some muscle tone. Anorexia is NOT attractive. Having a womanly figure is NOT "fat".

Don't get butthurt. I'm simply calling it like I see it and saying what others (including her circle of talentless sycophants) are thinking but don't have the balls to say.

Some people are meant to keep their clothes on. That's where
she and I have something in common. I could afford to lose some pounds and she afford to gain a few. Leave the nudity for those who have the body for it.
Aug. 5, 2012, 8:32 pm
manhatposeur from brokelynn says:
I think Aso Shinsuke was the artist who left an unattended bag on a tree brnach outside his bedford Ave apartment as art.
The unfortunate incident led to a bomb scare panic. But hey i bet it was reported by uneducated "brooklyn native".
Aug. 6, 2012, 9:34 am
Kgio from Bushwick says:
I don't think the curator helped drive the importance of this show home by suggesting that this group of artists are forming their work based on the idea that the "financial crisis is changing the way artists see themselves." This is just an easy and quick method of trying to package the show in terms its relativity to the current mode of thinking. I think this statement is actually insulting to the artists, who for the most part are engaged in a more interesting discussion: the transient nature of art, and the role of the viewer in experiencing and/or participating in the work.

Could —— be art?
Well, yes because art is subjective so it really depends on how you define art for yourself. If you decide —— is art, then it will be for you (though you may not convince anyone else that it is so). Actually transforming —— into art is kind of a tired arena nowadays.
Aug. 16, 2012, 11:22 pm

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