Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sex Cells at 49 Grove

There's a certain element to NYC's club scene I've always found to be disingenuous.

Perhaps it comes from my own firsthand experience in the club world as a youngster that has soured me to the mixed drinks, the dark lights, the velvet ropes, the kohl-lined gamin street urchins and silky fabrics.

I'm not one much to venture out for much of anything these days except for the occassional quick gallery peek, or milk and cereal at the store.

So I do declare that at 49 Grove I was a true fish out of water.

I mean, this is the kind of place where you'd most likely encounter Sienna Miller on a back banquette sipping a Vodka Campari w/grapefruit with a Swedish fish at the bottom.

Most likely your dj would be James Iha, or someone even less accessible.

The Sean Lennons and Bijou Phillips of the world all unite under one roof.

So I didn't stay for long, but truth be told, I didn't come for the drinks-- $10 for a really bad chardonnay.

I came (but of course) for the art.
My tense of "come" here, to be fair, is a play on words, for the title of this show--
"Sex Cells"-- is tongue-in-cheek at best, but overall the exhibit is jarred by being woefully undersold in presentation.

A mix of some fine female photographers focusing on the feminine mystique are at the forefront.
Unfortunately, I felt the exhibit doesn't match its surroundings.

The club is all about a celebration of the now, the luxxxe, confidence, extravagance... and definitely having FUN.

The exhibit's finest pieces are in truly dark direct contrast-- a red alert of what happens to naughty little girls and the jarring consequences of being "bad."

In this case, excuse my manhandling of a Pete Yorn album title, it's truly "Music for the Morning After... PILL."

Let's start with the tragic hero of Sebrina Fassbender.

The beautiful redhead in her works signifies such pain and desperation; a last resort; a final cry for help.

I don't think anyone can relate unless they, too, have ended up on a bathroom floor.

The cold porcelain brushing against your skin is a harsh wakeup to reality at hand.

Sebrina tends to specialize in work that displays junkies' sad fate.

Not only do I feel for this girl-- her cascadingly thick hair clumping together while she holds her face in her hands-- but I also can relate to her isolation.

Yes, too much self-reflection can warp a critique, but I find that I'm able to relate best to work that focuses on soul-searching based only on what time can provide-- distance and experience.

"Ding-dong the witch is dead"-- her ruby red slippers and legs in the forefront here are corpse-like.

No munchkins in sight-- but I'm sure towards the end of the night there was dancing.

The Wizard behind the curtain, Johnny LeValley and his Dorothy, Ksenia Hovden, (both of my previous reviewed Le Jungle Gallery Fame) do a great job again with showcasing artists not afraid to take risks.

Yana Toyber is unique in her focus.

Her work feels like an intimate look inside the boudoir of Madame Bovary.

It's amazing that context can influence perception to such a great degree.

Who's to say this woman isn't just a housewife having fun playing dress-up, but the maturity she possesses, the confidence in her sexuality as she brushes her hair showcases she's up for a night she might want to forget.

I can't be certain of the age of the model at hand, but she seems more "experienced," shall we say.

Great piece.

Next, Fumi Nagasaka.

Ms. Nagasaka is a world traveler who spotlights the fashion industry.

Here, she removes elements of glamour and focuses on serenity and peace.

I like how the girl here seems so removed from everything in her dream state.

Her gloriously perfect skin is in direct contrast to the hard-living club scene.
Of course, once again, this could be the day after a night out.

Much as a parent looks with devotion upon their child, so, too, the viewer is pulled in by this photo.

I find myself truly caring for this girl-- worrying if she's okay.

Who will be there for her when she wakes up?

It's something to think about, and I like how Nagasaka uses narrative to tell an untold story.

Finally, Tracey Anopolous, an NYU student.

Gothic beauty-- a bit of Coco Chanel mixed in with some Siouxie Sioux.

I actually don't find this image here to be sexual in the least.

The makeup is great-- theatrical, stagelike, and runway ready.

But I can't say that this image is developed as much as I find the other photographers' work

Perhaps Ms. Anopolous is showing her age here-- but I think she'll do fine work in the future with more career development and focus.

Overall, once again, a delightful creative forray by Hovden and LeValley.

Unfortunately, I don't think a club atmosphere suits this exhibit as well as a gallery would, for one big factor-- lighting.

I noticed other patrons struggling to view the works just as much as I did.

The only light came from my Powershot's far too strong flash-- I apologize immensely for the image quality here.

In a sense, I felt the club was undervaluing the art at hand-- pushing the drinks and atmosphere before creativity.

It will be interesting to see how subsequent shows might go at 49 Grove, but this initial visit might have spoiled it for me.

Back to my cave of solitude I go.

To view some more great work of the artists above, please go to:


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