Sunday, February 28, 2010

Together and Alone at the New York Public Library

by Drew Martin

There is a show of drawings from the beginning of March to the end of April at the Hudson Park branch of the New York Public Library that I feel quite close to...particularly because it is my show. It is called TogetherAlone and is a collection of forty, black and white, inked drawings, which explore the overlapping feelings of unity and solitude.

This theme extends from the microcosms of the 'line beings' to my relationship with these contemplative drawings…and even further, to the inter/inner-action of the viewer with the pictures. The drawings were made in two very different places over twelve years apart: Prague and Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic (1995-1996) and Ridgewood, New Jersey and New York City (2008-2009).

I hung the show too hastily (in an hour) and it would work better in a more intimate and less distracting setting but what I really like about the space is that most of the newer drawings were actually drawn in that very room. I have been in that neighborhood for ten years and had sought out every cafe and restaurant within a fifteen minute walk where I could draw but there was always something that distracted me. Finally I tried out this backroom at the Hudson Park Library on Leroy Street in the Village, which had been right under my nose all these years. It was perfect: plenty of light, no computers, big wooden tables and no one nosily looking over my shoulder or rushing me. The room is often a haven for homeless locals: still souls with unhurried lives. Sometimes I would sit down between them as they slept.

One man who smelled of alcohol in the room inspired a drawing in the show of a man sitting down, holding a wine bottle, while he is stuck inside a bottle, like a model ship. The gimmick of the ship-in-a-bottle is the question of how the ship technically got inside, but in my drawing, the encasing bottle is obviously a metaphor for his own entrapping actions.

Some of the best drawings are from fifteen years ago: they do not represent for me a more insightful or prolific time but a lonelier time, when I had the isolation needed for this kind of work. Developing this show (and book, which goes along with it) required the presence of all the versions of me in the arts, the artist, the writer and the editor/curator. There is also my role as a father/parent that comes in to play: thinking what is to be left for my children to see, and for that matter, what needed to be destroyed.

I think it is important to not relegate the arts to a spectator event but to create and show what one does at whatever level possible. Not only does such engagement increase one's appreciation for the production of art and the role of artists, but it really opens one's eyes to a more practical side of working towards a body of work and showing it to the public.

Hudson Park Library

66 Leroy Street (& Seventh Ave. South)
New York, NY 10014-3929

Monday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday 12:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Wednesday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday 12:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Friday 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Saturday 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Two of four panels with the framed drawings.

to read the NYPL review by John Flood, click here >>>