Art Springs Eternal & Eastward

Elena Soboleva (@elenasoboleva) is a New York gallerist and an art-world observer who can be spotted at openings around the city.  

In a season where one is constantly struck with optimistic prospects of renewal and when social calendars fill up faster than West Village patios on a Friday night, it is reassuring to see new ideas spring up and steer focus eastward of Manhattan.  Last week, the quotient of novelty came from a couple of fresh-minded events: the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) fundraiser launched with Paddle8.com and the opening for the newest project in the Raw/Cooked series at the Brooklyn Museum.

The fundraiser for BAM was held atop of the new Standard hotel in the East Village, drawing a worthy art crowd even thought the rivalling event that evening was the New Museum gala. Lacking the gimmicks of the west side Standard empire, the sunset cocktails on the roof offered a rare view. The event celebrated BAM’s 150th anniversary and the launch of the BAMart Silent Auction, which will culminate on April 22nd, with all the proceeds going to support future programming.

With over a 100 lots up for auction and Beth Rudin DeWoody as the honorary co-chair – the art is fresh, relevant and with price tags to suit younger collector budgets. The sale will take place online at the Paddle8 website and at Phillips de Pury day sale May 11th. Nan Goldin, Kara WalkerNate LowmanMickalene Thomas, Warhol and Wade Guyton are amongst the noteworthy selection.

The only downside of the evening was that none of the art was on view. Instead, rather sobering assistants attempted to show the wares on iPads, struggling with art-fair-quality internet speeds. Despite this, the night was a great success and drew out art and fashion folk alike – with Stacy Engman hosting the evening and Derek Blasberg and Andre Balazs in attendance.  The guests were treated to a coffee-house style performance of celebrity offspring music duo Gus + Scout.

The following evening, and this time actually across the East River, a young set of Brooklyn artists were toasting to the latest installation by Heather Hart.  Known for her interactive performances and playful works, for this project she created a life-sized rooftop grafted into the museum environment with the audience invited to scale the structure and ponder the world from its triangular peak.  Underneath The Eastern Oracle: We Will Tear the Roof Off the Mother, viewers could voyeuristically explore the attic, quenching a naïve fascination and getting to share the artist’s secret space.

Legal waivers aside, the exhibit was fresh and created a storybook narrative, where it took little to imagine it as a memento of Dorothy’s Kansas, transplanted in New York.  Performa’s RoseLee Goldberg and MoMA PS1’s Christopher Lew were amongst those having a fun time. However, this sentiment was not shared by the museum guards, whose job of constantly keeping heels, drinks and babies off the roof I did not envy.  The evening culminated when the guests rushed the roof for a group photo and I overheard several people speculating about structural integrity. It withstood the test. When the guards finally had their way and got everyone safely to the ground, the crowds dispersed freely through the galleries, which stay open until 10 pm on Thursdays.  On my way out, I brilliantly stumbled across the Keith Haring: 1978–1982 show and ended my visit at the dinner party with Judy Chicago. A lovely spring night in all.