Lettuce, Artichokes, Red Beets, Mangoes, Broccoli, Honey and Nutmeg: The Essex Street Market as Collaborator

C U R A T O R I A L   E S S A Y
A R T I S T   S T A T E M E N T S

Related Press:
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Bedford + Bowery How Bacon Perfume Made It Into This Time Capsule of Essex Street Market, Kavitha Surana
Earthjustice, Because the Earth Needs a Good…Artist, Mary Ting

Six socially conscious artists are invited to engage vendors, customers and the Market itself in their artistic processes as a means of co-generating experiences centered on the life that unfolds outside Cuchifritos Gallery, the art space of the Artist Alliance Inc. The participating artists and their collaborators bring to the forefront issues relevant to their respective trades and roles, while paying attention to the narratives as well as to the material culture that their presence in the place spawns as a result of their encounters.

Each of the foods listed in the title of this exhibition links an item sold by the merchants with the first letter of the name of the contributing artists and of the curator: Lettuce-Laia, Artichokes-Antonia, Red Beets-Ricardo, Mangoes- Mary, Broccoli-Beatrice, Honey-Harley, and Nutmeg-Nicolás.

Bring your unwanted plastic bags to the gallery and exchange them for a tote bag to shop at the Market. Offer valid while supplies last.

Laia Solé’s work explores the social and physical dimensions of space. She intervenes in spaces by actions that communicate and/or transform the dynamics of each site, using resources that are immediate and interactive. Her work often develops as a cooperative practice, working with other artists and local communities. In her recent works she blends her passion for the early cinema’s visual tricks and site-specific actions. She was an Artist-in- Residence at LABMIS at Museu da Imagem e do Som (Sao Paulo), 2012 and has exhibited her work extensively including at MAC (Santiago de Chile); Arts Santa Mònica (Barcelona); The Drawing Center (New York); and the Fundación Chirivella-Soriano (València).

Antonia Pérez, born in New York City, is a visual artist who mines the detritus of everyday life for evidence of the nature of contemporary quotidian culture and transforms her finds into sculpture, assemblage and works on paper. She has exhibited at El Museo del Barrio, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, and the Queens Museum. She is a recipient of the 2011 Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program award. Her work, reviewed  here, is also currently on view at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, Harlem, New York.

Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga approaches art as a social practice that seeks to establish dialogue in public spaces. Having been born of immigrant parents and grown up between Nicaragua and San Francisco, a strong awareness of inequality and discrimination was established at an early age. Themes such as immigration, discrimination, gentrification and the effects of globalization extend from highly subjective experiences and observations into works that tactically engage others through populist metaphors while maintaining critical perspectives. Over the past several years, Ricardo has established a practice based in research and investigation leading to the final presentation. This is a practice that utilizes whatever media possible to present the content in a manner that may generate interaction and discussion by others.

Mary Ting is a visual artist working in drawing, sculpture and installation. Mary has two ongoing community projects, Daffodil Ashes: Grief & Art-making and COMPASSION on wildlife trafficking. Solo exhibitions include Lambent Foundation, Dean Project, metaphor contemporary art, and Kentler Drawing Space.  Ting has received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, LMCC, Gottlieb Foundation, Pollack Krasner Foundation, and residencies at the Joan Mitchell Center, MacDowell Colony, and the Millay Colony among others.  Mary Ting teaches at John Jay College in both the art department and the Sustainability/Environmental Justice program.  She is also an activist, writer and gardener.

Beatrice Glow’s art practice comprises installations and performances. She is a Visiting Scholar in the New York University’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute where she currently has a solo exhibit: The Wayfinding Project. Recent activities include a Van Lier Fellowship at Wave Hill, Bronx; Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Finalist; digital publishing with post at MoMA; launching the Asian/Americas workgroup with the Hemispheric Institute; a Franklin Furnace Fund to organize the Floating Library aboard the Lilac Steamship, New York; and lecture performances at Asia Society, New York; and 56th Venice Biennale. In 2008–9, she was awarded a Fulbright to retrace coolie geography in Peru.  

Harley J. Spiller is a collector, educator, and author.  His work has been exhibited at museums and cultural organizations from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City to El Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, Venezuela. His archives of newspaper advertising materials, including a vintage Times Square newsstand, is part of the permanent exhibition and collection of The New York State Museum. A recent Roberta Smith review in The New York Times calls Spiller’s first book, Keep the Change: A Collector’s Tales of Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes, and Other Curious Currency (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015) “beautifully written and designed.”

Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful treads an elusive path that manifests itself performatively or through experiences where the quotidian and art overlap. During the past seven years Estévez Raful has received mentorship in art in everyday life from Linda Mary Montano, a historic figure in the performance art field. Montano and Estévez Raful have also collaborated on several performances. He has curated exhibitions and programs for El Museo del Barrio, the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, and Longwood Art Gallery/Bronx Council on the Arts, New York; and for the Filmoteca de Andalucía, Córdoba, Spain. Publications include Pleased to Meet YouLife as Material for Art and Vice Versa (editor) and For Art’s Sake. Born in Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros, Dominican Republic, in 2011 Estévez was baptized as a Bronxite; a citizen of the Bronx.

Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space is a program of Artists Alliance Inc., a 501c3 not for profit organization located on the Lower East Side of New York City within the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. Cuchifritos is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. This program is made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the following for their generous support: Marie and John Zimmermann Fund, New York City Economic Development Corporation and individual supporters of Artists Alliance Inc. Special thanks go to our team of dedicated volunteers, without whom this program would not be possible.