Taylor McKimens, Mike Kelley, 2012
Image courtesy of the artist
How will you be ringing in the New Year? Depending on where you are in the world, you may have celebrated already. Here in New York, we still have several hours to go but an electricity is building in the air. Friends are emerging out of the woodwork with well wishes, the sky is a steely grey and many are planning evening outfits. An unexpected occurrence which now seems to be perfectly timed is the opening of 100 Little Deaths, by Tom Sanford at BravinLee Programs. But wait, you scratch your head and think, an art opening on New Year’s Eve and a Monday? Yes, I did the same and initially thought it might be a mistake, but as the evening rolls closer, I’ve also realized that the exhibition will be the last I will view in 2012. This alone has a  certain weight and what Sanford has done is to paint and document 100 portraits of celebrities who passed away in 2012. While one can imagine that he’s not the first to embrace such a undertaking, having an opening on New Year’s Eve is indeed unconventional. Included in the exhibition, the artist has also invited a select group of friends to participate with portraits of their own. The BravinLee Project Room will host these works and a black tie event organized by Sanford and Riot Development at Alger House will be where many guests ring the holiday. Not such a bad idea after all. The art world of New York is quite small, most people know each other in one way or another and crossing paths is not as difficult as one  might imagine. This year has proven again that this is also true on a global level. As my travels have taken me to various countries, art fairs and exhibitions I’ve encountered many new friends and run into familiar faces in almost every city.
Tom Sanford, 100 Little Deaths, 2012
Image courtesy of the artist and BravinLee Projects, NY
Noah Becker, Vidal Sassoon, 2012
Image courtesy of the artist
So, again the inquiry, how will you ring in the New Year? Will it be with family, friends, or alone in contemplative solitude? Will the outside temperature surround you in a soft warm breeze or will the chill in the air seep through fair and delicate skin straight into bones. 2012 has been a great year for the contemporary art market and I think that 2013 will be even better. I am happy to report many artists who are selling works, exhibiting, traveling, doing residencies, etc and have been featured here. 100 Little Deaths will bring together many of those friends and acquaintances in a celebration of sorts of a year gone by and members of popular culture who were lost. Each artist will bring their own touch and personality to the wall, monumentalizing a face that made a mark on our society in one way or another and is no longer with us.  In true preview format, some of the subjects were leaked through Facebook and include, Franz West, Donna Summer, Adam Yauch, Mike Kelley, Whitney Houston and Vidal Sassoon amongst others.
Tom Sanford, Franz West, 2012
Image courtesy of the artist and BravinLee Projects, NY
The exhibition will be a period at the end of a run-on sentence but also a moment to monumentalize those who have made an impact on a large group of people or been a personal favorite. There is also the act of recontextualizing those who were forgotten, actors, musicians and others who aged and were recalled  only after the moment of death.
A painting is a monument of time in many ways. It is a moment, transformed, frozen, personalized. Human contact with the surface alone is quite an intimate process. With figurative painting, as an artist stares deeply into the eyes of a face that is slowly emerging from a two-dimensional surface a sense of authority is attained, an instance of recognition. We are all part of who we look upon in many ways. We are the living and the dead. As another year comes to an end, we realize the Mayans were wrong, gun violence is still prevalent in American society and for now, the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. Everyone knows someone who has died, but as 2012 becomes the past and 2013 the present, let’s salute the living, the working, the painting and the smiling.
Cheers to 2013 and more contemporary art to come, in galleries, museums and your own personal collection.



Kristen Schiele, Donna Summer, 2012
Image courtesy of the artist
Tom Sanford 100 Little Deaths will be on view at BravinLee Programs from December 31st-February 9th, 2013.
Project Room artists include: Graham Preston, Jessica Ellis, Shay Kun, Rudy Shepherd, Les Rogers, Jonathan Allen, Dan Heidkamp, Kelli Williams, Joe Heaps Nelson, Chris Bors, Noah Becker, Eric White, Nic Rad, Daniel Davidson, Taylor McKimens, Kristen Schiele, Ryan Schneider, Aaron Johnson, Michael Hilsman, Sydney Chastain-Chapman, Michael Scoggins, Robin Willimas, Josh Jordan, Ridley Howard, Holly Coulis, Natalie Frank, Paul Brainard, Jeremy Willis, Jeff Beebe, Michael Anderson, Guy Richards Smit, Michael Bevilacqua, Francesca Neiman, Alfred Steiner, Eric Doeringer, Peter Daverington, Thomas Broadbent, Dawn Frasch, Nina Chanel Abney, Kevin Klein, Erin McNalley and Aaron Zimmerman.
More soon.