Saturday was one of those whiplash weather days that NYC is famous for. It had been cold – close to freezing. But on Saturday it was over 50 degrees. Perfect weather for checking out a gallery in Maspeth, Queens (on the Brooklyn border).
The Knockdown Center is an old factory (they invented and manufactured the Knock-Down door frame) that is now used as an art center and performance space. On the way from the bus to the Knockdown Center there was a building with a mural on the side. It also had a black and white American flag with one blue stripe in the backyard.
Not the Maspeth I used to know.
The factory is a lot of rusted corrugated steel. The first things you see when you enter are “A Way From Home” by J McDonald, which was not open for viewing inside, and “Temporary Allegiance” by Philip Von Zweck, which changes every two weeks. You can bring any material for them to hoist up the flagpole and they will fly it in the order in which they receive them. The title refers to the duty of a non-citizen to obey all laws as long as s/he remains in that country. Loyalty and identity changes as the flag changes. The flag I saw was by David Opdyke. It was a hand tied by string to handgun – it looked like a hand controlling the gun as if it was a puppet. I didn’t realize that A Way From Home was an installation. It is a mobile art project and just looked like part of the factory and someone had put flowers outside. I wish it had been open. It looked like a great statement on how former factories, like the one I was in, are converted to condos.
Inside is “Suspended Forest”. Michael Neff has done this installation twice before – illegally under the BQE in an unused space in Williamsburg. Each time the piece was removed by the city within days. Now it’s in a legal space for all to see throughout the month of January. Unsold Christmas trees are suspended from the rafters where they twirl and shed their needles. I expected to see more needles and more bare trees. Because of that I also expected the site to be quieter with the needles and trees absorbing the sound. It was quiet but that’s because there weren’t many people there and those who were there were speaking in whispers. It seemed natural to whisper. The light was coming in the windows and it was a quiet to walk among the trees but also to play among them and spin them.
People standing behind the trees make it look like the trees have legs.
Most of the Center was not being used. I would love to see an event there. Even the bathrooms are interesting looking with a word stenciled in each stall.
Around Flat, curated by William Staples, is the exhibition in the gallery. There is both two- and three-dimensional art. While you have to stand in front of two-dimensional art and encounter it head on, three-dimensional art engages the viewer in a different way since you have to walk around it. There were some fun pieces like “Kilroy” by Deva Graf that made me think of my childhood, “Mill Wild” by Paula De Luccia that looked like a deconstructed rocking horse, “Beating the Rug” by Ann Toebbe, “Subjective Matter” by Cecilia Bagnini, and “Fold” by Pamela Jordan.
By Carene Lydia Lopez