By Brooke Ferber
This year, seniors from AP Studio Art and AP Photography classes ventured to the Chelsea galleries for a “rite-of-passage” art field trip. Unlike works in any traditional art museum, the works of art exhibited in Chelsea are all for sale. In addition, viewing all the art requires gallery-goers to explore the areas between 22nd St. and 26th St. in West Side Manhattan.
From incredibly abstract, complex work to more technical, descriptive work, the galleries feature an extraordinary range of artwork. I found that many of the galleries convey artists’ distinctive concentrations, styles, and penchants. Such an example of singular artistic representation can be seen at De Buck Gallery on West 23rd St., which features the work of Kelly Reemtsen in the temporary exhibition Smashing. Reemtsen’s art focuses on fashionable, proportionally perfect women in designer clothing. To her viewers’ surprise, however, these high-end fashion icons carry stereotypically blue-collar tools less readily associated with women, like hammers. Upon closer consideration, we realize that Reemtsen is seeking to redefine sexist attitudes: Her art conveys the limitless potential of women to dress the way they wish without physical or intellectual inhibitions. I felt the gallery’s dedication to her concentration adds weight to her important message.
Between galleries on the field trip, we had the opportunity to view fascinating art in the area. Some of the street art promotes very positive messages of love through vibrant hues and modern geometric forms. On the High Line, a railroad line turned park, amazing greens transcend the concrete, reminding me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—Betty Smith’s novel about a luscious green tree that blooms on a former railroad track in a barren, impoverished metropolis. Like Francie, the protagonist of the aforementioned work, I recognized the unexpected mechanisms of nature, which instilled within me a sense of optimism. The High Line was an unexpected oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City.
I do not suppose any of us seniors were serious buyers, but it was riveting to wander through the trendiest, most artistic district in Manhattan. I enjoyed watching the potential art buyers and seeing whether or not there was a common thread in the work they found attractive. Although I did not reach a concrete conclusion, I realized that art appreciation is equally as unique as art creation.