All’s ‘FAIR’

Peel back the curtain, for a partial glimpse of Glass

[media-credit name=”Images courtesy of the artist ” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]BY SCOTT STIFFLER

Promoted as a marked departure from his previous work, this installation by heretofore conceptual realist painter and sculptor Mikel Glass — his debut show with (Art) Amalgamated — is not just an intriguing window into what lurks beneath the artist’s crowded and contemplative skull. That would be enough, for one show at least. Good to see, then, that “Mikel Glass: FAIR” is also a clever tweak of what goes on at art fairs.

Inspiring comparisons to Norman Rockwell, Tim Burton and Marshall McLuhan — but ultimately claiming aesthetic and intellectual territory of its own — “FAIR” divides the narrow train car space of (Art) Amalgamated into two halves (or, perhaps, cerebral hemispheres).

If you’re the type who likes to read the final chapter before you’ve even glanced at the book jacket, make the back room your initial destination. That’s where you’ll find an “active, manned broadcast studio disguised as an artist’s studio.” At first glance, it seems as if you’re being invited to pull back the curtain for a quick and easy glimpse of the wizard’s true nature. His name, Glass, may imply transparency — but the back room’s two notable self-portraits (one hanging on the wall, one seemingly discarded on the floor) only muddy one’s efforts to figure out what makes this guy tick. Although it provides no answers, the desk — crowded with all manner of doll heads, trophies, glowing wires and TV set tubes that evoke neurons poised to fire — conveys the artist’s thought process with a worn but elegant sense of nostalgia.

In the front room (separated from the back one by a glass and steel wall, but fused to it by ceiling tubes), six large-screen monitors simultaneously broadcast a constant feed of videos — a mix of dreamy, distant images as well as streamed content from the art fair scene of local galleries (among them, Sidney Janis Gallery, Knoedler Gallery and Stable Gallery).

A jumble of wires, timeworn connecting devices and rusted industrial components fuse the six monitors — instantly transforming the contemporary commentary into a relic of the past.

“You don’t know if it’s art or not,” says one bemused fellow of the art fair sites he’s just taken in. Hard to say if that’s the point being made by Glass or his video monitor proxy…but I must say, I liked their earnest sense of wonder.

Mikel Glass: fair
Through May 12
At (Art) Amalgamated
317 Tenth Ave., ground floor (btw. 28th & 29th Sts.)
Gallery hours: Tues.-Sat., 10am-6pm
For info, call 212-334-0403 or visit artamalgamated.com
Also visit mikelglass.com