8.25.2010

The Carriage House at John Davis Gallery

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The dappled Carriage House as seen from the gallery's back door
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As a first-time visitor to the John Davis Gallery, I humbly suggest that its motto should be, “Wait, there’s more.” Not that the bi-level space isn’t fine for exhibitions; it is (and Brenda Goodman’s show looked great in it). It’s what happens when you walk out the back door. There’s more.

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Across a sculpture-filled courtyard there’s a four-story carriage house with five more exhibitions. The space has been cleaned out and stripped bare so all that remains are the space with its 19th Century workaday details and, of course, the art.

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When I was there, Ben Butler’s cedar sculptures were in the courtyard. Paintings by Beth Gilfilen and Leticia Ortega Cortes were on the second floor. Suzanne Ulrich’s collage were on the third. And Luis Castro’s wood sculptures were on the topmost floor. Running the length of the elevator shaft was a shimmering installation by Ortega Cortes and Dionisio Cortes, a waterlike but soundless cascade.

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There was other art, too. But what I just noted is what I’m going to focus on. We’ll start on the ground floor and climb up, the installation as our centerpiece.

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This building is over a hundred years old, and you can see that the space was used hard. The entrance is over your left shoulder as you look at this image. I want to draw your attention to the installation visible between the columns at left
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Below is a full-on view. I love the linear quality of the work. Makes you want to draw, doesn't it?

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The glare you see is the light from the entrance, so this view is one level up and about 180 degrees from from the first one

The installation, called Is Where Space Ends Death or Infinity? , is made from some 25,000 plastic drinking straws that are strung with thread. There are two intersecting planes: one suspended at a slight angle; the other with a catenary curve.

Detail of the two planes below:

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I shot this from a small side room, pictured below, so that you can get some of the geometry of the interior. The small rooms--animal stalls in a previous incarnation, or perhaps living quarters for the livery staff?--are now galleries .

Here's a view looking into the room. The paintings inside are by Leticia Ortega Cortes. The painting on the outside wall is by Beth Gilfilen .
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.The small rooms make for interesting bisected views, like the one above. The painting on the right is another Gilfilen. The staircase barely visible in the right corner is shown in profile below: .
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From our vantage point on the stairs we have a good overview of the second floor and the installation in the shaftway
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. Here on the third floor we're at the top of the cascade
.Below, a view looking down .
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. Here we see some collages by Suzanne Ulrich
Just out of view in the right corner below are the stairs we're going to climb to the top floor
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I love the geometry of this stairwell, which leads to a low-ceilinged garret
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Below, the opposite corner, with an installation of carved wooden spheres by Luis Castro. These were the thoughts I had when looking at them: bocce, prayer beads, people
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Castro's human-scaled forms are so sensuous, and I like their curvilinear relationship to the enormous elevator pulley, below
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Before we head back down the stairs, let's take a look out the low window at left.
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Here's the view into the crisp geometry of courtyard with views of Ben Butler's cedar sculptures, Beat and Pitch:
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Next post we travel farther up the Hudson to Castleton, to another reincarnated building with a new life. The Castleton Project space, housed in the enormous former Odd Fellows Hall on South Main Street, is featuring its inaugural show, Castleton Twelve. I'm one of the twelve.
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6 comments:

Mery Lynn said...

Raw spaces can be difficult. Some work is enhanced; others lost. Context matters. Their selection process for the carriage house space looks well considered.

Mary Zeran said...

Now I have seen my dream space!

annell said...

That was very interesting. I almost felt I was there. The installation was really incredible! Thanks.

I have a question. What about if you visit somewhere and you really don't respond to what you see, would you still talk about it?

Or like a burglar, would you move on to find the unlocked house?

SKIZO said...

Thank you for sharing
This fabulous work with us
See
You
soon

Nancy Natale said...

Lovely! Thank you.

jeanniebroccolini said...

Joanne:
I am just cruising though your blogs, primarily interested in the John Davis Gallery. You have truly inspired me to visit, and to visit the Cape Cod Center for the ARTS as well. I have not been there for awhile.

The installation of threads down the staircase knocked me out. Also the way in which you photographed the spaces and the paintings. I love the courtyard sculpture garden and have a passion for finding creative uses for old buildings. I am restoring my fourth 200 year old house. If you ever get to Hanover, NH or Ojai, CA let me know. I am going to try to get to some of your other places in NY. Waves of gratitude for an outstanding contribution. jean.bates@yahoo.com