57W57Arts, by Valentina Maio

June 2017


            Situated amongst an elevated cityscape, a trip to 57W57 Arts gallery will grant the viewer a refreshing perspective of contemporary art and the space it occupies. The gallery is comprised of three exhibition spaces and also doubles as a children’s psychiatrist’s office. The gallery is run by Dr. Alan Ravitz and his wife, Sue who both interchange the exhibitions every eight weeks. 57W57 Arts aims to display works of modern, conceptualist and crafted art and has previously shown works that span the spectrum of mediums that include painting, photography, installations and sculpture. The gallery currently exhibits four artists whose background and works range in technique, composition and placement. Due to its role as a psychiatrist office, most of the work exhibited in the gallery spills into the waiting room of Dr. Ravitz’s office. Unlike many current galleries, 57W57 function as a gallery and office provides an alternative perspective on the function of art in a practical space and engages the viewer in a more immersive manner.

            The main room of 57W57 Arts currently displays the works of Michael Voss and his series named Paintings with Names and Related Drawings. These are a set of abstract paintings created on linen that are given an intimate and almost personal identity. Voss chose to name the paintings Jacqueline, Ana Garcia, Fuentes. Given his abstract painterly technique, the paintings are composed of dramatic color motions that both dual in being intimate and open. While they show simplicity in composition, there underlies a theme of secrecy in the meaning behind his work. By naming each painting, Voss shows the abstract nature of a name while artistically depicting a specific identity. The vibrant and deep hues flare onto the walls and create a captivating presence as the viewer walks into the gallery. Filling in the second exhibition space, Daniel Wenk’s Recent Tapings work dominates the small room with work composed of exclusively adhesive tape. Working with tape since 1986, Wenk uses tape to explore the functional concepts of durability, wear, improvisation and temporality. Wenk’s compositional technique of repetition and layering bridge the gap of both drawing and sculpture.

            Moving away from the main room and project space, the presence of the gallery spills into the functional setting of an office waiting room. In the waiting room, artist Tracy Grayson presents a series of paintings made from 1999 up until the present. His compositions are comprised of rectangles in the form of a “snap-shot” that are traditionally rendered and colored with monochrome. In his other series, segments of masking tape are traced, given pigment, and placed in a calculated manner on the canvas. Grayson adequately and artistically represents the rendering of successfully calculated measurement. His other series focuses on the relationship between light and space and their conventional means of use. He uses motifs of the sun and the sky and explores the relationships of objectivity and subjectivity and their modes of representation.

            While both the art gallery and office space remain as separate domains of work and engagement, 57W57 Arts does a successful job in bridging these different exhibits all into an office and art gallery. Each exhibition space captures and engages the viewer with its simplicity and minimalist orientation. The choice in curation both in content and placement creates unique dimension and intimate functionality to the space. Given its elevated location in the heart of Manhattan, 57W57 Arts is a hidden gem of modern and conceptual showcasing. It’s colorful and intimate atmosphere leaves the viewer wanting to return and explore the art that functions both in a gallery and office space.