Art in the City: Road Trip! 


Interstate: The American Road Trip

Socrates Sculpture Park, 30-01 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City
You may think a summer road trip only yields empty fast food containers, adolescent revelations, and asymmetrical tans, but the artists in Interstate have mined the experience to create a surprising and humorous exhibit. Starting at Andrea Zittel’s popular High Desert Test Sites event in the California desert and ending at the super-urban Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, these nine artists crossed the country collecting road signs, historical artifacts, and even highway guard rails. Carolina Pedraza’s bright green mailboxes wind along the park path while Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonenberg’s structure of pastel-painted street signs towers above. Two long stretches of guard rails enclose Virginia Poundstone’s Wildflower Median and Mark Klasson’s blue payphone sprouts off the dirt, promising a live connection to the Mojave Desert. Allison Smith’s cloth tent houses historical artifacts from living history museums, and R. Scott Mitchell’s rectangular prism mocks the monotonous, reflective surfaces of office parks. These twisted remnants of the open road could not be more out of place in the urban mayhem of Queens, but the contrast gives these sculptures visual drama and a dose of cheeky playfulness.

Local Transit:  An Exhibition in Two Parts
Artists Space, 38 Greene St, Soho
In another exhibit connecting distant places, the curators at Artists Space have traded artwork with Artspace in Auckland, New Zealand, to create two shows on the theme of location. The project is meant to provoke comparisons between the ‘center’ and the ‘periphery,’ implying that New York is the center of the universe, but in reality, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish between the New York and Auckland artists.  More interesting is the wide range of methods used in depicting landscapes and maps. Marie Lorenz presents a beautiful wooden canoe whose carved pieces can be run through a press to make woodblock prints of the Manhattan skyline. Dane Mitchell creates distorted maps of the world in which a country’s size reflects its number of museums, and Yuk King Tan forms images of buildings and people using small colored firecrackers. Barely relating to the idea of place, but perhaps the most charming of all, are Ellen Birrell’s photographs of wildly mutated lemons against colorful backdrops. In a separate show at Artists Space, Daniel Joglar hangs objects from the ceiling and makes subtly beautiful arrangements of office supplies on a tabletop.

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