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The Essex Flowers Window Box is a public-facing exhibition venue occupying our 19 Monroe Street storefront window. The enclosed vitrine allows us to stage gallery exhibitions while observing social distancing guidelines. The Window Box is viewable from the street 24 hours a day with frequently rotated shows that can be enjoyed by passersby and gallery goers alike. We invite you to stop by anytime and check out our programming for this new venue from the street while wearing a mask and practicing appropriate social distancing. More about each artists and each installation at essexflowers.us

Artists presented: Kevin Ford, Ander Mikalson, Barbara Smith, Sean McCarthy, Craig Taylor, Emily Mullin, Gerard Mullin, Sean McElroy (planned so far, stay tuned for more…)

Sean McCarthy & Craig Taylor
Together, A Part
July 15 - 24, 2020

Sean McCarthy and Craig Taylor’s works both explore grotesque figuration, the former with a graphic vocabulary and the latter through painterly abstraction. This exhibition features four small paintings from each in conversation with one another.

Concurrently, they are offering a two-sided collaborative screenprint in an edition of 20 for sale, the artists’ proceeds from which will benefit the National Lawyer’s Guild.

Ander Mikalson
Solar Plexus
July 5 - July 14, 2020

Ander Mikalson is known for large scale performance works involving marching bands, choirs and dancers. In Solar Plexus human performers are recast as objects—floating party balloons in shades of sunshine yellow. As the balloons expel their helium, they drift down and pile on the floor like wilted flowers. The installation is continuously tended by the artist over the course of the exhibition, with fresh balloons added every few days. Velvet curtains line the walls, framing the performative sculpture of the balloons as at once theatrical and domestic. A text-based score drawn on the window reads “LEAN INTO THE SHARP POINTS.”

The helium that escapes from the balloons cannot be grasped or contained again. Helium is one of the most abundant elements in the universe but difficult to find on earth, as it is lighter than earth's atmosphere. Once it is harvested and released from underground pockets as a byproduct of natural gas drilling, it escapes forever into outer space. As we rapidly deplete the helium reserves on the planet, and experience helium shortages, the buoyant party balloon shifts from a happy icon of celebration to a poignant symbol of global ecological collapse.

Yellow is said to be the color of insanity; in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman Perkins it is a cause of madness. It is also the color of the third chakra located at the center of the body, connected to digestion and transformative power. In Solar Plexus the color of egg yolks, goldenrod, sunshine and lemons becomes a unified monochromatic landscape, an impactful impression of color that is at once cheerful and unsettling.

Mikalson often transmits instructions to her performers and audience via graphic and text-based scores, which form the generative basis of her performances. Here, it is ambiguous whether the instruction “LEAN INTO THE SHARP POINTS” is for us or for the balloons, or both—and if it is to be literally performed or only imagined. The text is pulled from “When Things Fall Apart,” by Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön, in which she teaches us to become intimate with difficult emotions like fear and anger, to “perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away.” Drawn directly on the window, the shadows of the text fall on the balloons, highlighting their vulnerable, fleeting nature.

In Solar Plexus, as in much of Mikalson’s work, a seemingly fun and playful surface gives way to deeper content. Here, the actions of pulling, stretching, falling, balancing, floating, lifting, expelling, outgassing, bursting and exhaling ask us to consider the intimacy of our breath, the fragility of systems. In this context, colorful party balloons become a meditation on death, disappearance, loss and letting go—on holding joy and grief simultaneously as we allow ourselves to deeply love what is irrevocably lost. It is an aching celebration, a tender surrender.

Barb Smith
June 25 - July 4, 2020

The whole thing is a result of what I didn’t know about edges. What I didn’t understand about punctured breath.

I cut myself in half and discover that each side is full of the same holes. It makes me wonder what this new embodiment can teach me about love.

I run my fingers over some misalignments. I like how it sounds. How my eyes work. What is activated by light makes me wonder what the sun knows about joy and pain and our trying.  How they are like dancers, so moving/moving/moving. - Barb Smith

Kevin Ford

Kevin Ford, Birds, various dimensions, 2020

"...one never copies anything but the vision that remains of it at each moment, the image that becomes conscious. You never copy the glass on the table; you copy the residue of a vision... Each time I look at the glass, it seems to be remaking itself, that is to say, its reality becomes uncertain, because its projection in my head is uncertain, or partial. You see it as if it were disappearing, coming into view again, disappearing, coming into view again-that is to say, it really always is between being and not being. And that is what one wants to copy."

-Attributed to Cézanne by Joachim Gasquet

The origins of this project are sketchbook drawings of seagulls made on a boat in open water. As the seagulls fly overhead, it’s only possible to get down a few essential lines. The drawings are minimal, consisting of only broad gestures: evidence of the perception of the birds’ anatomy and flightpath, before the moment is gone. This plein air mode of working is a chance to explore the very real distinction between reality and observation: a kind of perceptual slipperiness. The resulting paintings were made in the studio, and are a composite of these observational gesture drawings from the sketchbook, the memories of trying to capture a fleeting event, imagination and improvisation.

In conjunction with the installation of the paintings, a “sketch” for an augmented reality piece, produced in collaboration with Jonathan Ehrenberg, can be seen as a short video clip here.