2021 Featured Exhibitions
Born in 1957, Scot Borofsky was raised and currently resides in Vermont. Since the mid-1970s he has traveled extensively throughout the Americas, and the influence is salient in his artwork.
Borofsky attended Brandeis University and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in painting. He moved to New York City after receiving a Max Beckmann Memorial Painting Scholarship and the use of a studio at the Brooklyn Museum for a year. He was one of the few trained artists who, inspired by graffiti, began making conceptual street art outdoors.
Borofsky is also influenced by ancient Asian works and African masks, which surface in his works an assortment of symbolic motifs. He renders these in a simplistic, stick-figure-like format that lends itself well to his signature street art style.
Besides other large murals in the east village, Borofsky created a one-block-sized outdoor installation defining an area of broken down and abandoned buildings with motifs resembling an ancient ruins site. The installation was called the pattern walk and can be viewed currently as a virtual installation here.
“The Language of Street Art” consists of recent collages and an overview of oil paintings from the past two decades. Borofsky has created his own visual language through his varied influences and his cross-culturally-based symbols. His street art has influenced his studio production. The result is on display in this exhibition on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the Van Der Plas Gallery. This is his first solo exhibition in twenty-two years.
“STRONGMAN STRAWMAN” features the work of artists Ron Burman, Monty Cantsin (Istvan Kantor), FA-Q (Kevin Wendall), Bob Dombrowski, Brian Gormley, Steve Hagglund, Richard Hambleton (Shadowman), Clayton Patterson, Robert Parker, and Antony Zito.
So what these guys have in common, aside from a couple of em’ being dead, is that they thrived and mostly survived the art blitz of the 80s. Most of them showed on Rivington Street near Forsyth, what later became known as the Rivington School. They employed a somewhat Primitivistic quality and a healthy disrespect for authority.
Ron Burman’s paintings evoke a kind of art-brut painterly flourish, usually consisting of Neo-expressionist figures. Monty Cantsin is a performance artist, writer, and painter who is credited with editing and writing books such as Rivington School: 80s New York Underground and Hero in Art: The Vanished Traces of Richard Hambleton. His works have also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney (illegally). Bob Dombrowski was also a pioneer street artist, whose abstract metal sculptures still festoon Tompkins Park today. A stalwart and also street artist from the Rivington days, Kevin Wendall, aka FA-Q, was quite influenced by the cobra movement from the 70s, but his work is raw and even more intense, perhaps the greatest prison artist of all time. Steve Hagglund was also one of the original street artists, just a big white guy, police did not like him. Also a musician, Steve was a key part of my magazine, Redtape, in the early days. Richard Hambleton needs no introduction, the godfather of street art per se, one of his iconic exploding black silhouettes upon gold is also included here. Though primarily known for his large abstractions, especially the blackout works that were partially inspired by his friend Basquiat, Gormley’s work here shows the gamut between his late 80s affinity with the Transavantguardia movement of the early 80s, specifically Clemente and Chia, as well as more recent spare abstractions. He is also the author with me of a print series/book entitled On Bolus Head, about Ireland. Robert Parker was one of the principal progenitors of the urban sprawl, which became the beacon of the Rivington School. Though known as a metal sculptor, lately he has been dabbling in woodwork, which he creates with his own chainsaw. The one I call “Smokey the Bear” rules. Clayton Patterson is best known for the archival shots he did of the 1988 Tompkins Square Park cop riot, as well as his iconic hats, tattoos, and so forth. He is also the publisher of numerous books about the Lower East Side, including Resistance and Captured, the principal force behind the Acker Awards. Antony Zito also has a lot of street cred, though with a bit more finesse, especially his portraits, even though they’re painted on a trash can lid, conjure reminisces of Manet or Kokoschka.
- Michael Cameron Carter, 5/17/2021
May 29 – June 27, 2021
Van Der Plas Gallery presents Holistic Barbarian, a solo show by artist Devon Marinac (b. 1988). Devon Marinac is a Canadian artist from British Columbia who currently lives in Toronto, Ontario. In his first solo show at Van Der Plas Gallery, Marinac shows a selection of mixed-medium works which blend techniques of painting, drawing, collage, and zine-making.
When asked about the title of the show, Marinac explained that he ‘just likes the sound of it’, a response that seems to capture the debonair inclusiveness of the paintings themselves. Taken from Charles Willeford’s introduction to Jim Tully’s ‘hobo autobiography’ called Beggars of Life, the title also suggests Marinac’s interest in the figure of the vagabond and drifter; Marinac describes one of the paintings as pertaining to a bar scene that was ‘like a merry rotating cast of bums and losers’. The materials used contribute to the curious sense of austerity and a certain hobo-aesthetic, yet some influences and references remain simultaneously literary, as Marinac doesn’t neglect to draw on ‘high culture’ just as he celebrates aspects of the ‘low’.
The you-just-go-on-your-nerve sentiment of Marinac’s explanation certainly speaks for the overwhelming sense of inclusion and cross-reference. Indeed, ‘holistic’ is the overarching principle in terms of what Marinac decides to include, as he ‘just runs with a bunch of stuff.’ Four of the works might be described as a librarian’s nightmare, in which classification and categorization are relentlessly protested in a frenzy. Marinac seems to deliberately taunt the frustrated librarian by writing ‘Dewey’s Decible’ which is a malapropism suggesting the noisiness that the works possess, a further sonic affront to the traditional library. The premise of the hectic bookshelf allows Marinac to jump across literary genres and periods in vast cross-cultural sweeps. In one section, ‘Burgess’ is placed next to ‘What to do between birth and death’ and the subtle rhyme between these consecutive spines brings home Marinac’s desire to see echoes and connections between seemingly disparate parts of life. In one of the bookshelves, book spines are dotted between wine bottles as a bar atmosphere emerges not only in the alcohol paraphernalia but in the dominant sense of an inebriated consciousness that is able to dart nimbly between different associations. Marinac too describes this substance-induced mental agility, as he connects feeling ‘very mentally limber’ with a ‘way too easy-to-access cognac habit’. One of the most striking aspects of the works seems to be the centrality of language and handwriting, as words and letters not only signify language with semantic meaning but become their own form of imaging.
Titles of books seem to function equally as shapes and drawings in a flurry of reference that is both linguistic and visual in its signification. Marinac comments on his own focus on language and literature as he describes himself ‘playing around with subject matter and titles like a writer writing.’ This dizzying sense of commixture and commingling registers Marinac’s embrace of the variousness and messiness of life, which contains not just ‘misery, but ‘some playfulness’… These are ‘dens of ups and downs.’ Indeed, as we try to make sense of the somewhat impenetrable mixture of what is infinitely more than squiggles and words, objects and symbols, colors and shapes, one thing is for sure, that we ‘certainly just like the look of it.’
Works on Paper and Sculpture
by Devon Marinac
July 23 – August 8, 2021
Van Der Plas Gallery has partnered with SaveArtSpace to bring more public art to New York City. Curated by Al Díaz, the selected artists include Darlene Deloris, Tslil Tsemet, and Michael McLaughlin. SaveArtSpace launched public art installations for each selected work on billboard ad spaces throughout New York City.
Van Der Plas Gallery has mounted an exhibition with the original artwork that includes artists Darlene Deloris, Mehran Moin, Charles Schick, Regina Bartkoff, Clown Soldier, Tslil Tsemet, and Michael McLaughlin.
SaveArtSpace x Van Der Plas Gallery x Al Díaz
September 17 – October 8, 2021
We Were SAMO©
September 17 – October 16, 2021
Van Der Plas Gallery is pleased to present “We Were SAMO©,” a solo exhibition featuring the new mixed-media work of Al Díaz.
Two young, adventurous, penniless teens lived day to day and only for each day, taking in as much as life had to offer. Never concerned with the material, mundane or mediocre. SAMO©…AS AN ALTERNATIVE to BOOSH-WAH FANTASIES was one of the many defiant slogans they lived by. SAMO©…4-U was their war cry, convinced that theirs was the absolute only way! Few images remain from their days of marauding through the streets of Lower Manhattan in search of entertainment, love, laughs, and free stuff. Some of the only images in existence of the two friends were captured by Al Díaz on an old Canon 35mm SLR he often carried. A handful of photos were shot in summer 1978 by an unknown photographer and were fortunately preserved by Club 57 personality and friend, Natalya Maystrenko, who shared them some 30 years later.
Diaz’s latest mixed media work poetically makes use of these few mysterious images, telling the story of wayward high school friends and illustrating the brazen, irreverent spirit that he and Jean-Michel Basquiat expressed through their now historic partnership and SAMO©… graffiti writings.
October 9 -16, 2021
From 1977 to 1984, George “Crime79” Ibañez (b. New York 1964) painted numerous notable subway cars. A whole train with a memorable painted poem appears as the opening page to the “Graffiti Bible”, Subway Art by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant.
Crime79 was a member of a group called “Soul Artists” which were among the first to transition graffiti art from subways to legitimate galleries. In addition to paintings, Crime79 practices his art on intriguing projects in a variety of mediums. George “ Crime79” Ibanez continues to show worldwide and is known as a pioneer in the graffiti art movement. He currently lives in New York and owns a graphic design studio and is currently working on his autobiography which is scheduled to be released in late 2021.
Louie “KR.ONE” Gasparro found his inspirations and earliest influences on the classic rock album covers of the 60s and 70s. Gasparro was heavily influenced by and took part in, the rolling art of NYC’s Subway Graffiti era from 1977-1983. He has primarily affiliated with the MTA writing groups such as TSS (The Super Squad) RTW (Rolling Thunder Writers) NWA (New Wave Artists) and M.A.F.I.A. (Masters Administration For Incredible Artists).
Gasparro is also a world-traveled musician and an accomplished author. Always stretching the scope of his artistic palette, Louie Gasparro is currently a card-holding member of the Screen Actors Guild (S.A.G.) and his film bio can be seen on IMDB. This true renaissance man is alive inside the dream.
As Seen on TV: Jason McLean
November 5th – 28th, 2021
Primarily created in London, Ontario at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, “As Seen on TV” showcases the colorful dynamics of retrospection. The autobiographical nature of Jason McLean’s exhibition references familial interactions, economic situations, and mental health, remarking on the refined freedom that comes with pondering the phenomena of time and mortality. When the circumstances of the world urged us to turn inward and succumb to darkness, McLean brightened his color palette. Having created this body of work outside of New York City, Jason took advantage of the spatial freedom of his Canadian studio and worked on multiple pieces at once, merging colors and textures across different works. Taking a personal outlook on staying grounded and easing up the pace of things, McLean combines his artistic individuality with the all-too-familiar everyday undertakings of human existence. His pieces stand as a ubiquitous metaphor for the clarity that comes with slowing down and stepping back to see the bigger picture.
Jason McLean remarks that his art is “an escape [from] the woes of life.” His work is equal parts stream-of-consciousness and diaristic, something he refers to as “mind mapping.” The convivial elements of “As Seen on TV” augment his unique style, bringing together disparate objects and concepts to form a cohesive whole.
Northern Souls: Fiona Smyth, Susan Day, Tomas Del Balso, and Devon Marinac
Group Show | Curated by Jason McLean
November 5th – 28th, 2021
This exhibition, curated by Jason McLean, will be featured in our Showroom from November fifth to twenty-eighth in conjunction with “As Seen on TV.” The show features the work of four Canadian-based artists: Tomas Del Balso, Susan Day, Devon Marinac, and Fiona Smyth.
Each artist maintains a similar approach to image-making that denotes a cartoon sensibility with cohesive color palettes and mark-making techniques.
McLean took his personal history with each of the artists into account when curating the exhibition, making it all the more special.
Tomas Del Balso is a musician and artist who met McLean through the House of Everlasting Super Joy Warehouse Space in Toronto, Canada. Del Balso and McLean worked together in their art-making both in the studio and on the streets. The artist is now living and working in Ontario, focused on his art-making in a beautiful setting around his cats and cactuses. “He is a great cook, chicken to be specific, and even better working with watercolors,” says McLean.
After hearing Susan Day’s name in Canadian art circles, McLean first crossed paths with the artist’s work through her awe-inspiring mosaic wall installations. McLean and Day instantly gelled, bonding over the ups and downs of life and their shared love of art-making. Though working with 3D media, Day’s work with ceramics and mosaics fits into the narrative of this group through her utilization of illustrative line work and figurative formations.
McLean met Devon Marinac in Toronto, Canada. Marinac was an early fan of a book McLean was a part of, “Nog a Dod,” edited by Marc Bell. The two artists’ approach to visual storytelling falls back to their similar tastes in music, zines, and comedy.
Fiona Smyth was somewhat of an artistic icon and inspiration of McLean’s. Having written her fan mail via postal service in the years pre-internet, McLean reminisces of being nervous the first time he and Smyth had met. McLean states that he would “always mention Fiona and the Toronto Sneaky Dee’s Music Club sign she painted in the same sentence.”
Experimental Animation: Film Screening
Friday November 12th at 7pm
Curated by Eric Leiser, an award-winning artist, experimental filmmaker, animator and holographer working in New York and born in California. An alumni of CalArts experimental animation program, he was mentored by program creator/filmmaker/animator Jules Engel. After graduating from CalArts, he was mentored by artist/filmmaker Jan Svankmajer in Prague, CZ. Eric creates intricate works of animated film, sculpture, holography and painting along with film installation integrating animation, painting, sculpture, holography and live performance.
Adam Dargan, Experimental Animation: Film to 3D, 1:54 min, 2017, USA
Jessica Ashman, Hold Tight, 1:11 min, 2018, UK
Edwin Rostron (animation) & Supreme Vagabond Craftsman (sound), Visions of the Invertebrate, 2:35 min, 2011, UK
Max Winston, Hateful Goo, 3:30 min, 2019, USA
Eric Leiser, Dwell With Me, 4:02 min, 2018, USA
Adam Tyson, Picture Show 2021, 2 min, 2021, USA
Felix McLean, Worship Computer, 1:58 min, 2021, Canada
Jason Zumpano (direction/story/music) & Jason McLean (drawings) & Jimi Pantalon (animation), WHAT YOU ARE OUT HERE FOR, 18:02 min, 2021, USA
Lydia Greer, Hallucinations, 10:42 min, 2017, USA
Genevieve HK, Liquid Light Show, Live Projector Show, 2021, USA
Tracking Flight: The Metro Card Mosaics of Juan Carlos Pinto
December 22, 2021 – January 16, 2022
“Tracking Flight” beckons the viewer to a mosaic both literal and metaphorical, one that merges city life, cultural phenomena, and patterns of nature into a comprehensive exhibition. Strikingly detailed collages of today’s political, musical, and social icons, composed entirely of used NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metrocards, augment the larger idea of movement and migration through space and time. In the same format, Pinto meticulously constructs glimpses of birds commonly seen in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, all of which have completed a journey from their origin to the city. As a South American-born artist, Pinto views his chosen species of birds to symbolize the movement of Latinx individuals to New York City as well, a poignant subtextual addition to his work. Pinto understands the similarities that exist in a bird’s migratory paths and the journeys of human beings as they traverse the urban wild. Thus, the opaque black magstripe on the Metrocard is a focal point in all of Pinto’s pieces. When swiped, the magstripe can provide insight into each location the Metrocard has been, revealing human patterns of movement and navigation throughout the city. Both humans and birds, as nomadic creatures, find purpose through migration. Pinto’s body of work illuminates this concept in a revelatory way.
“Facing Forward,” a Van Der Plas group exhibition, synthesizes the individual styles of four artists to reveal the many “faces” of neo-expressionism. Ron Burman’s art communicates eccentric themes through stark lines and piquant color choices. Burman, intrigued by the work of Alejandro Caiazza, is shown alongside the Argentinian artist in “Facing Forward.” Caiazza brings his worldly experience and emotional vulnerability to the exhibition. His collage-esque creations, often composed of abstract materials, incorporate full-bodied forms that seek to communicate familiar feelings and sensations. Cameron Colan, in his first showing at Van Der Plas, incorporates multimedia constructions as well, creating a comprehensive aesthetic experience. His works explore the notion that “matter is neither created nor destroyed,” through the lens of the balloon figure. Likening the fleeting gasses in a balloon to the unique trajectories of people and ideas, Colan uses the balloon to represent “that” moment in time when disparate concepts co-exist. Kevin Wendall, a classic example of an outsider artist, also captures balloons, but for him, this theme manifests in a haunting, bold style. Wendall meshes whimsical compositions with a darker subtext, depicting balloons as a representation of escape. Wendall’s reputation as an against-the-grain 1980s troublemaker precedes the fiery passion of his art. In Facing Forward, the curated work of Burman, Caiazza, Colan, and Wendall augments the outsider experience and spurs on the postmodern art era as it is expressed through mind, body, and soul.