Julian Schnabel, Goodbye Mike Kelley, 2012
Installed at The Brucennial 2012“The single most important art exhibition in the history of the world. Ever.”
~Bruce High Quality Foundation & Vito Schnabel

Last night, throngs of art lovers stormed Bleeker street in Manhattan for the opening of The Brucennial. The exhibition, a collaboration with The Bruce High Quality Foundation and Julian and Vito Schnabel took over a large, old theater space. Art has been installed salon style and was visually intoxicating and spatially overwhelming. The work, like the crowd was an explosion of color and form that all blended together in a quick glance. Upon further inspection, familiar faces appeared in the crowd and recognizable art on the walls. Many unknown, or lesser known, artists share the white, painted brick space with artists such as Andy Warhol , Basquiat , Cindy Sherman (whose solo exhibition recently opened at MoMA), Keith Haring and others including the Schnabel patriarch. But rather than find the visual interference of mixing generations to be at odds, instead, the two worlds collide quite seamlessly in an uncurated cacophony. When feeling overwhelmed and glancing rather than looking, one might just take the time to focus on a particular spot or location, and will more likely than not be satisfied rather than disappointed at what he or she may come across. Such is the case with several of the works that I’m including here which are my personal favorites.  A specific static energy was in the air as guests shifted slowly on the main floor, occasionally peering upward, towards the high ceilings and art which has been installed out of reach.

Artist unidentified, free-standing sculpture, fluorescent bulbs
Installed at The Brucennial 2012
Walking through the crowd, I noticed Terrence Koh , Paolo Canevari , Kathy Grayson, Knight Landesman , Dustin Yellin , Vito Schnabel, Bill Powers and friends Onyedika Chuke, Allegra La Viola , and Hugh O’Rourke. Most of the artwork is unlabeled. Some pieces feature scrawled names written in graphite along with arrows matching the artist to the appropriate work.  One of my particular favorites (shown above) is a free-standing sculpture with two fluorescent bulbs poking through the eyes of musician Ray Charles and actor Jesse Eisenberg. The result is both comical however reflective on popular culture. Upon noticing it, I found myself cackle out loud with joy. This was my experience at The Brucennial. It may have some punk aesthetic but there are many hidden gems amongst the organized chaos.
Dustin Yellin, Ghost, glass sculpture, 2011
Installed at The Brucennial 2012
I recently wrote an article on Dustin Yellin for Whitehot Magazine which will be published later this week. After having visited his enormous studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn, it was nice to come across one of his now familiar sculptures, standing in the center of the room. Seeing this piece in a crowded space is very different than viewing it in his studio. A detail that I previously didn’t realize but caught my attention here, was the reflection of a passersby that seemed to fall eye level to the smokey, ghostly, frozen figure.
Kathy Grayson (bottom right) and Dash  Snow (upper center)
Installed at The Brucennial 2012
Lastly, I sought out the work of gallery director Kathy Grayson  from The Hole , who I’ve learned only recently is also a painter.  Her work hangs diagonally below a Dash Snow collage, and the two pieces have some kind of odd, yet friendly, symbiotic presence on the wall.
Will The Brucennial blow your mind? Probably not. But at a time in New York when large group exhibitions are the current, dominating force, it feels good to be part of a show that is informed from past events. The art world is constantly changing and in flux, but The Brucennial, while a bit incestuous at times, will remind the viewer of a New York that existed in the 1970’s and 80’s. A time of squats, smoking indoors, and garbage cans full of beer (all of which occurred or were channeled during the opening). I’m sensing a revival of sorts and best to experience it while you can!
The Brucennial is on view at 159 Bleeker Street, at Thompson in Greenwich Village, NY, until April 20th, 2012.
All photographs taken by the author with iPhone 4, 2012
More soon!