Opening soon at C24 Gallery: Street Life

I received a press release from C24 Gallery for an upcoming exhibition titled “Street Life,” featuring works by Lisbeth Firmin, Coby Kennedy and Ryan Sarah Murphy, which opens with a reception on Friday, July 23rd from 6-8pm. The exhibition will remain on view through September 25th, 2021, and if you’re in the NYC area, the street address is 560 West 24th Street in Manhattan.

Director and Curator David C. Terry has assembled a collection of paintings and sculpture for this exhibition that explore multiple facets of New York City through the history, inhabitants and byproducts found in its streets. The press release further mentions that “…the resulting dialog between the city’s legacy of racial disparities, the assortment of lone souls who comprise its citizenry, and the physical detritus of its endless activity offers viewers a variety of visceral takes on this most fascinating and intricately layered metropolis.”

From my own advance “scouting” for this exhibition, I see that I really like Lisbeth Firmin’s paintings, which you can see on her website here. Her ability to capture light and shadow and the feel of urban life has me wanting to see more, and in person! I like the press release’s apt description of “… moments of lone figures and couples lost in thought, walking through shadows or lit by the unearthly glow of a city sunset. Her figurative paintings allude to portraiture, though she avoids the direct gaze of her subjects.” Two examples of her work are shown below; at left is: “Man in a Hoodie,” 2017, oil on wood panel measuring 20 x 20 inches, and below right is “Chinatown Windows I,” 2013, oil on wood panel measuring 16 x 16 inches.

paintings by Lisbeth Firmin
Art by Lisbeth Firmin, images © the artist and provided courtesy of C24 Gallery.

Coby Kennedy also has an interesting array of work, both paintings and multi-media sculptural works. I find it fascinating to learn that he has a background in industrial auto design, and it’s hard to describe his work in a concise way (especially coming from this being my first exposure to his work), but there’s a wealth of work that can give you an overview on his website here. For this particular exhibition, Kennedy imagines a fictional civil war in Brooklyn, and has created a series of machetes made from recovered street signs. Below left is: “Blowout Combs And The Battle Of The Brownstones,” 2021, using repurposed DOT street signs, Bad Brains t-shirts, and steel, with overall measurements of 90 x 76 inches. Below right are two works: “Bent Blade Of Bedford (Kukri),” 2019, using a repurposed DOT street sign, aluminum, vinyl, and canvas, measuring 9 x 28 inches, and “BlockRocker (Nostrand Broadsword),” 2019, with a repurposed DOT street sign, aluminum, vinyl, amd canvas, measuring 9 x 32 inches.

art by Coby Kennedy, machetes made from Brooklyn street signs
Art by Coby Kennedy, images © the artist and provided courtesy of C24 Gallery.

The press release states that “combining these street sign machetes into oversized mandalas, Kennedy has repurposed these weaponized symbols of placation into powerful points of focus, drawing our attention to the common misdirection tactics used by oppressive forces to distract people from their true source of power.” Check out an example of this work here.

Lastly, I’m quite intrigued by the work of Ryan Sarah Murphy, and there’s a personal reason behind this. Long ago I worked as an art handler at Pace Gallery, and I was often required to come up with creative solutions using cardboard to package and protect art works. So when I see that these art works are created with repurposed cardboard that Murphy finds in dumpsters, alleyways and curbside stacks throughout New York City, I’m just amazed at the way that she transforms them into gorgeous abstract art works! Below left is “En route,” 2019, with found (unpainted) cardboard, cut book covers, and foamcore measuring 26 1/2 x 34 x 2 1/2 inches. Below right is “On a split shift,” 2015, with found (unpainted) cardboard and foamcore measuring 28 x 32 x 3 1/2 inches.

art by Ryan Sarah Murphy at C24 Gallery
Art by Ryan Sarah Murphy, images © the artist and provided courtesy of C24 Gallery.

The gallery press release offers this helpful explanation: “Murphy embodies a kind of optimistic alchemy that perceives beauty where others see only trash. Starting with the colors that initially draw her to the materials she gathers, she simultaneously builds out multiple pieces at a time, tearing out any logos and printed characters to work with only the raw, colored cardboard shapes.”

If you would like more information on the exhibition or need info on where and how to get there to see the show, check this link here.

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