“One Nation under Glass”
JANUARY 4- MARCH 3
319 Bedford Ave
Now until March 3rd
Every so often what is called the sideshow, like a chrome heart shining in the sun, can eclipse the main event. Such is the case right now at Sideshow Gallery in Williamsburg, where some 480 artists currently have work on view in the exhibition “Sideshow Nation”. This is not the first time it has happened. In fact, every year for the past thirteen or so years, this event has taken place, though the number of participants has grown each year. If you haven’t seen, you haven’t lived. Get yourself down to 319 Bedford Ave between now and March 3rd.
This annual event is not strictly speaking curated, nor is it an open call. It cannot even be properly called a group show. It is is a coming together, a gathering of the tribe, a celebration of a community whose members are citizens of this great nation, the Sideshow Nation.
Artists of all kinds and all ages are here. There are artists who have had career retrospectives at European museums, who have graced the covers of art magazines for the last four decades, artists who may now be on these covers, and surely artists who will be. There artists for whom this may be their only opportunity to show, and artists everywhere in between. There is one artist who has work on the moon. The only requirement of citizenry in this nation is to be one of those for whom the madness of creating art is as much a necessity as eating, breathing, and making love.
At Sideshow there are stars, but stars only in the sense that the Milky Way is a made up of many individual stars. While each one crucial to its magnitude and glory, it is the galaxy itself that impresses. Scanning the walls at sideshow is like gazing at the Milky Way on a clear night, different stars catch our eye at each pass, brilliances ebb and flow at each scan. So it is with the art on the walls in the gallery, each time we look, different works catch our attention, for different qualities, and while these individuals shine in turn, we always returnto the power of the radiating, cumulative energy of the totality, an energy that like that of all galaxies, is relentlessly expanding, vibrating and uniting with the larger cosmic tapestry, it is a universe within a greater multi-verse, that like art itself suggests the infinite, and gives purpose, vibrancy, and spirit to our existence.
Part of this purpose, this spirit is the great premise of the show: that everyone deserves chance. At least once a year, everyone gets his or her place on the wall. All are accepted and hung with both equality and respect.
And while each person and each work is treated with the same respect, what holds all this energy together, its cosmic glue and animating force, is the hanging of the walls. It is all about the wall. When the hanging begins, the inclusive and democratic nature of the premise gives way. In the placement of the work, there is only one decider, one positive charge, and it is the vision of Richard Timperio, the man behind this great event and Sideshow gallery.
Each wall is hung with the utmost care. All the work is first laid out on the floor. Typically, one piece will go up on wall that will suggest a set of relationships that will begin this delicate and deliberate process of the hang. Work will be taken down, moved, rearranged any number of times until the balance is just right. Often the original starting piece will go, and an entirely new premise and configuration for the wall will take shape. There is a tolerance of a half to quarter inch, as pieces move and shift, left, right, up and down. All eight walls are begun simultaneously. The development is gradual and organic. There is a dedicated crew of volunteers to help with the work of hanging, most of whom are professional art handlers whose day jobs are in New York's museums and galleries. There may be three ladders working at once, pictures going up, coming down, with Timperio moving constantly between them giving directives.Meanwhile, still others work to compile the inventory and price list, which is a masterpiece in itself.
There is work in every size, shape, and medium that you could imagine, and many you would not think of in your wildest dreams. Timperio patiently attends to every artist to make certain their work is correctly installed, often taking the considerable time to invent processes and mechanisms for installation on the spot.
The result is magnificent. A good part of this magnificence is the amount of work and its quality, but equally powerful is the spirit that pervades the space. The exhibition at Sideshow is something more than a labor of love. It is the expression of a belief; it is a profound humanitarian statement. It is a celebration that says, come together, we are all one, at least once a year, in Sideshow Nation. It is both for those who create, and those who appreciate and love art. Every one takes part; everyone makes it happen, we all need each other.
So, to all the artists who participate, to all who come to be amazed, to the ethos of the Sideshow nation, and to the guiding spirit of this great nation, Richard Timperio, I say, and I am sure I speak for many others, long may you run!
Kim Sloane 1/2013