Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pre-Preview - Martha Cooper & Elle – A Joint Exhibition – Mecka Gallery – Brooklyn, NYC

This morning I had the pleasure of picking up Elle, the elusive Brooklyn based street artist at her Greenpoint studio. Our mission was to move freshly mixed paints in a rainbow of pastel colors along with six large blank canvases to Mecka Gallery.  

These raw materials are to be transformed by Elle and famed NYC photographer Martha Cooper into a joint exhibition, which will span several mediums including painting, street art, photography, books, runway fashion turned sculpture (or wheatpastes turned to runway fashion), and jewelry.

Usually I force my way into the galleries just a day or two before the opening to take photos of a nearly complete show, and pester the stressed out artists and curators with questions they have been asked so many times in the past couple weeks that their answers are almost on autopilot.  Not today, this preview was much different…  when we arrived at Mecka Gallery I was presented with a white washed gallery with mostly empty walls.  

This is because Elle has only been working with the space for one day!  This left us plenty to talk about.  I am going to save most of the fun stuff we discussed for a proper preview a day before the show… but I will tease you with some choice tidbits ; )

This joint exhibition is a meeting of two different generations of female artists, both influenced by a common subject; art and the streets.

Cooper who is best known for her stunning black and white photographs documenting the early years of the NYC graffiti movement, helping to legitimize the art form almost from its inception, will be exhibiting some of her best loved images from her book “Street Play”.  Some photos will be pasted on the white walls in grandiose fashion (it’s worth heading to the exhibit to experience these images from a simpler time in an almost life sized state), while Elle will transform others into derivative works using additional mediums, including film and fire extinguishers filled with paint.  Elle takes into account modern and contemporary fashion and art mentioning Jackson Pollock's paint splatters and abstract painting when referring to her fire extinguisher paintings, while calling her hand made dresses (which are made out of hand pulled silkscreens with hand scrubbed transfers of Cooper's images) "wearable sculptures".  Elle explains:

"Martha and I wanted to do a collaborative show that was different than past graffiti shows. We wanted to do something edgy and unique to us. We are both women, and we are of completely different generations- which influences our take on graffiti and street art completely. I wanted to focus on painting with fire extinguishers for this show because of their abstract nature- they bring graffiti into the dialogue of contemporary and modern fine art while referencing contemporary culture, and I think that cross-over of fashion and art and high and low culture is fascinating and debatable and reachable. I also wanted us to create the art while wearing the art, while becoming the art, while being documented in the art-- I wanted the entire show to be full circle. And so it will be- Martha and I will be wearing our sculpture, while painting and photographing in them within the gallery space, in front of the art that we have made, while being filmed by Dega, and this film will be shown at the opening along with our sculptures which will then be painted by our performance, in the gallery space which will also have been painted. Mecka offered us a huge raw space and Martha and I thought- let's do something different... so we are."

I don’t want to give too much away, but Elle and Cooper have lavish plans to out due their predecessors (Rene Gagnon, Priest, and most recently Judith Supine) who have used the Mecka Gallery space in some pretty impressive and imaginative ways.  But as a tease you can expect t-shirts hand finished with paint from fire extinguishers, various collaborative prints (including one on metal), tote bags, jewelry and some high fashion…  Again more details will be revealed as the opening gets closer… 

This is a show not to be missed (although I’m sure it will be a snow storm or a monsoon for opening night if history repeats in true Mecka Gallery fashion):

Opening Reception – Saturday April 26 
7pm – 10pm

All the usual suspects and free drinks of course ; )

65 Meadow St., 
Brooklyn, NY 11206
Author: Matthew A. Eller
All Photos & Text Copyright Matthew A. Eller 2014
Twitter: @ellerlawfirm

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