Last night I stumbled into the Japanese anime, art world version of Narnia.
Walking down West 22nd Street, I saw a group of people standing outside an art gallery. Some were smoking, most were wearing edgy, fashion-forward clothing. They were all attractive. If you were throwing a party in NYC, these are the people you’d want to come.
I had a hunch a party was exactly why they’d all gathered. On a quest in the name of truth (and hopeful for free booze), I opened the door of the gallery.
Large paintings of bobble head, anime-style children hung on the walls. Giant eyes consumed a significant percentage of their round faces and shone with stars, hearts, fried eggs.
I chose to describe the pieces in this way: Sailor Moon barfs her soul all over a canvas, then attempts to clean up the mess by spraying it with emojis. In the same manor that freshmen boys utilize FeBreeze.
While I am not the target customer for a Sailor Moon acid trip, it was absolutely fun to look at. My instinct was to analyze it: is this a critique on anime? A comment on the exhalation of the virginal and child-like? Or is it a celebration of these things?
Then I decided to fuck it, not look for any deeper meaning. It’s cute, it’s colorful. I didn’t care enough to find the artist or gallery director to question, “What does it all mean!?”
I did care enough to find the bar. That’s where the party was really happening.
The outside area at the back of the gallery was full of people and chaotic decoration. The only inspiration I can imagine: Sailor Moon on drugs, passing out in a pile of trash.
Covered with lanterns, ballon animals, drawings, and well…trash. Plastic bags hung from the rafters in clusters. Discarded boxes intermingled with glowing lights. Kiddy pools full of brightly colored balls sat tucked away in corners.
It all came together feeling very festive, if a little gross? Slightly strange? Was that the feeling I was supposed to get from the art?
A man came out on a platform dressed in a sailor suit wearing an orange wig. He proceeded to perform tone deft karaoke. Was he the artist who painted the paintings? I don’t know. But it was certainly fun. And strange. It made me sure the paintings mush have more meaning than just “cute ‘n colorful”. Right?
This was such a bizarre event to stumble into knowing NOTHING. It was absolutely entertaining and delightful as well.
If you want to check out the exhibition I saw, you can find it at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery on 22nd Street. You can also see more pictures on their website, where I learned the collection is called “Sunset in My Heart” and the artist goes by Mr.
Here’s the deal with Chelsea art galleries:
Chelsea has NYC’s biggest cluster of art galleries. On Thursday evenings the neighborhood is often crawling with art (and/or free wine) enthusiasts. It’s the night galleries have their openings. These small celebrations kick off new featured work. They’re open to the public, anyone can walk in. Free wine is often served and for many, that’s a bigger draw than a chance to meet the artist. None of this is well publicized, it’s not exactly easy to learn about Chelsea art openings. It’s not exactly easy to plan to attend one, unless you’re an insider in the art community. If you want to check this out for yourself, I recommend going to Chelsea on a Thursday evening with no expectations. Plan to check out some galleries, see where the night takes you. This Chelsea Gallery Map gives you an idea of where to go.
What do you think of this event/exhibit? Got any better analogies than my Sailor Moon ones? Have a great weekend everyone. If you need inspiration, just channel a inebriated anime character!