Chelsea gallery tags street art as fine art

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | On March 23, the new exhibit “Blended” opened at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in Chelsea.

The exhibit is a collection of street and pop artists’ works that have been reimagined. Pieces that, in their original form, are the size of an entire building wall have been redone to fit a small canvas. By miniaturizing these larger-than-life paintings, curator Denise Cummings is making a powerful statement: Street art is fine art.

“Opinions are changed by what the artist chooses to say about the definition of their work,” Cummings said.

“Black Swan,” by Biaggio.

“Blended” is Cummings’s curatorial debut and signals a seminal moment for the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery.

But there is still a long way to go before the world stops viewing street as mere vandalism. And, in order to do that, according to Cummings, more street artists need to be given spaces in high-end galleries and museums where their style and intent can be better explained to the masses.

“Make It Your Own,” by riiisaBoogie.

Most of the artists featured in “Blended” are relatively unknown outside of the street and pop art scene. But some, like the artist Hektad, who has several murals in the area around the World Trade Center, are more recognizable. Other artists in the show include Robert Mars, Biaggio, RiiisaBoogie, Pitch Black, SFGrajales, Rezones, Wilfredo Feliciano and Michele Allgood.

There is even a piece by the curator herself in the exhibit.

A piece by Pitch Black.

The energy at the opening of “Blended” was the opposite of what one might expect at a gallery. Graffitied trucker hat-wearing viewers laughed with friends as they drank out of champagne flutes. Family members of a gallery worker took selfies in front of collages of Marilyn Monroe. An artist gestured wildly as she explained her piece — a cup of ramen with tentacles and eyes coming out of it.

“I feel like street art is the new voice,” said Sanger Russell, a Dumbo resident who was taking in the opening. “It’s a really cool voice, and I just feel like it’s kind of the future.”

A photo by planet brz.

“Blended” will be on view until May 1 at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, at 531 W. 25th St., Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, visit www.amsterdamwhitneygallery.com .