2017 South End Art Hop Juror

2017 Art Hop Original Juried Show Statement

As a New Englander and now New York City resident, I have visited Northern Vermont and Burlington often in the past 30 years. So I thought I was the epitome of those “been there-done-that” know-it-alls when Mark Waskow offered to give me a tour of the South End during the jurying process of this year’s ArtHop. Little did I know that my tour would prove a palpable excitement in the studios, work spaces, galleries, and outdoor spaces all through the area, that made me want to get my hands dirty and start making art again (I am a former artist, as well as curator, art writer, and current gallery owner). This experience paralleled the range of works I saw when winnowing the pool into finalists –the variety of themes, styles, and material choices, was exciting to see. I wanted to reflect what I saw in my selections, to give the artists a thumbs up both for pursuing political or idiosyncratic personal subject matter, and for looking piercingly at a seemingly mundane scene of grass, snow, or ice. There were fantastic paintings on canvas of chickens and landscapes that made both seem fresh or fanciful, and confident experiments in photo transfer, metal sculpture, and ceramic. Nothing should be off limits in a competition such as this, but it’s also important to value a sharp eye towards taking something that has been looked at for thousands of years and putting a personal stamp on it.

When it came to my selections for prizes, I wanted to reward a vision executed with such ferocity that little did it matter my own personal stake in the artist’s choices – in fact, I love to be won over by styles and subjects towards which I normally wouldn’t gravitate. To this point, my first prize selection [Jeffrey Robbins] was on first glance a scene perhaps familiar to many a teenager or young adult – a rec room or basement, full of melting pizza and half-drunk beer and sloppy debauchery. And yet the commitment to making every form as sinewy and spaghetti-like as possible and colors from a Pop-y ‘70s quilt made me want to indulge in every last wanton limb and dirty crumb. It also harkened to American masters such as Thomas Hart Benton or Charles Burchfield, or perhaps R. Crumb or other comic illustrators. Second place [Eleanor Lanahan] was also a surprise to me – a seemingly “photorealistic” image that upon closer inspection had an almost garish voyeurism in capturing every last highlight in a workshop, full of possibilities from ceiling to floor of mechanical tinkering or reuse. In fact the very nature of it seemed against its genre – ostensibly a portrait, the work relied on a fascination with surface, materialistic excess, and bricolage, to the point where I almost forgot the person depicted. The third place [Teresa Celemin] went to a totemic menagerie of human/animal hybrids, tightly rendered in impeccable pencil work. The artist’s choices seemed to hew to an inner logic of precise metamorphosis – with an imagination as feverish as any Surrealist.

Outdoor sculpture animated the landscape and businesses supporting SEABA – with first place by Tyler Vendituoli an evocative and meditative sprinkling of cast toddler’s furniture suggesting Rachel Whiteread merging with backyard cast-offs, perhaps a graveyard of our collective former innocence. Second place, also by Tyler Vendituoli, was an elegant rendering of a body – whose welded form echoed the celebratory strong musculature of  Gaston LaChaise and Michelangelo’s female bodies. Third place was a concisely articulated metal bird by Eben Markowski, in a style marrying Art Deco and outsider art.  All in all, a great day full of art, in an exhibition that should encourage other cities to support and celebrate their artists with the dedication and professionalism that SEABA has shown over the years.

Asya Geisberg owns an eponymous gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, showing emerging and international mid-career artists in a range of media. She has also juried numerous exhibitions, lectured, and been a visiting critic at universities and residencies across the US.

About the Juror: Asya Geisberg 

With a BA in literature, history, and philosophy, and an MFA in Fine Art, Asya Geisberg has worked in many aspects of the art world, notably as a writer, curator and artist. Her international background has fostered a life-long interest in cross-cultural pollination, and a unique perspective on the various idioms of art.  Asya runs the Asya Geisberg Gallery in NYC

Asya Geisberg Gallery presents a visually eclectic and conceptually focused program of thought-provoking contemporary art.  AGG showcases art that stands out and translates across multiple arenas of discourse, art history, and culture. We work with young emerging artists as well as internationally established artists. Our program includes Artist Talks, performances, art demonstrations, book receptions and other events open to the public.

Featured in “Hot New York Galleries” in Newsweek, AGG has also received reviews in the New York Times, Artforum “Critic’s Picks”, Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, ARTNews, Modern Painters, New Yorker, Brooklyn Rail, L Magazine, ARTINFO, Artcritical, WNYC radio, Lodown Magazine (Berlin), Boat Magazine (UK), ArtSlant, Whitehot Magazine, Dazed, Hyperallergic, Art F City, and Beautiful Decay. Art fairs include UNTITLED Miami, NADA NY, VOLTA NY, Salon Zurcher/Paris, and Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC).

Asya Geisberg Gallery is a member of the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), ArtTable, and sits on the board of NURTUREart, a Brooklyn-based art non-profit organization.