“Messin’’ With You,” the current exhibition on view at Worthington Yards located in the historic Warehouse District, this Saturday welcomes the public for a free viewing followed by a visit to artist Gregory Scott's studio in Battery Park as part of the Art Ventures program.
Featured artists in the exhibition include Debbie Apple Presser, Steve Presser, Dana Depew, Michelle Droll, Scott Goss, Natalie Lanese, Shannon Morris, Edward Raffel, Gregory Scott, Stephen Tornero, Anderson Turner, Gwen Waight, and Tony Williams, all offering use of a wide gamut of materials, styles and concepts addressing the theme of “Messin’ With You.”
“The artists in this exhibition prefer the scientist-meets-tinkerer aesthetic with a side order of folly, mind-bending and risk-taking as part of their practice. All of these artists test things out in a combination of playfulness, irreverence, and gutsiness simultaneously employing a wit and curiosity that asks WHAT IF?” organizers said in a press release.
Artists Gregory Scott combines photography, painting, and video guiding the viewer to call into question how we value art, how art can surprise us, and make us think and force us to alter our perceptions.
Scott is playful in how he explores the use of framing in art and exploits the element of surprise in what we expect to find in the confines of the frame itself. At times, in order to call the attention of the viewer, Scott will manipulate space and time and putting himself as the subject in his work.
Sometimes the message in Scott’s work is light-hearted and sometimes more heavy-handed, but in many cases it offers a spirited and thought-provoking commentary on instances and movements in art history achieved with meticulous presentation engaging the viewer first in its cleverness and then with whatever the loose narrative is.
Scott’s cunning manipulations can be observed in his 2 pieces in this exhibition: “Cube,” and “Segmentation.”
“If the work I make isn’t new and surprising to me, then it’s not interesting to me. So why would it be interesting to anyone else? In that pursuit I embrace the unexpected, the quirky, the humorous, the poignant. The goal is to make people think and feel,” said Scott in his artist’s statement.
Well-known artist Dana Depew continues with his ongoing series of works where he produces large-scale signs made from found materials placed in pubic settings. Many times these pieces are seething with irony. They’re conceptual pieces using words and phrasings to confront the viewer, to pick on the practice of art, its modalities and to deflate the ego of artists, which he does every chance he gets.
One of the most well-known examples is above the entrance to 78th Street Studios, which notoriously reads, “Your Art Sucks.” There is a deliberate sardonicness, while allowing the viewer room to breathe and let the concept settle with them enough to get a smirk while challenging their perceptions.
His piece in this show “The List is Long,” is made from reclaimed signage from businesses that closed due to the pandemic. The piece is a reference to a nice way of saying a bad word.
“The primary goal is to elicit a response using and reciting words or phrasing that can be construed as serious, triggering or in this instance possibly humorous depending on if the viewer even has a sense of humor,” said DePew.
The work of artist Shannon Morris is also included. Coming from a recent familial severing, she created pieces which are whimsical and hilarious but also carry an undertone of sadness, loss and address the unrealistic and unattainable storybook expectations many have of families and relationships.
These pieces have titles like, “It’s Not Me, It’s You,” “Congratulations You’ve Ruined Everything,” “Happily Ever After,” and, ““Cinda-fucking-rella,” the last of which is a piece with clear plastic 'glass slippers' encased in a clear glass dome.
This in particular, in conjunction with the other works, would seem a stark and stern sarcasm on the fragility of relationships and how the sometimes seemingly transparent perceptions people have of one another can easily be clouded and how pervious they then can be to manipulation, self-destruction and malady.
“Messin’ With You” was curated by Liz Maugans, who has been leading Art Ventures since its inception in 2019. Maugans has been an active tub-thumper promoting, fostering and cultivating local artists along with creating networking opportunities to connect artists with the community and collectors.
“This show was about some artists dealing with subversion, some artists who are optically messing with you, and some conceptually messing with you,” said Maugans.
Overall the show is strong, offering insight and surprises from Ed Raffel’s sleek space-aged lamps and mirrored designs to Gwen Waight’s “The Grind,” depicting toy guns being run through a meat grinder to produce jewelry. The exhibition keeps one in the moment and on their toes.
The Yards Project Space is in the common area of Worthington Yards.
Participants are asked to meet at 725 Johnson Court Saturday, August 6th at 10 a.m. to check out the exhibition. Donuts and coffee will be served. The Gregory Scott studio visit follows at 11 a.m.