Wrap Around 6, Curated by Renée Riccardo, ARENA@Suite806, NY
By KATY DIAMOND HAMER, MAR. 2015
"Please have a seat on the couch. Tell me about yourself and what brought you here today." Such begins the long, all too familiar initial conversation between therapist and patient. Where week after week one returns to the same office, to confront not only an individual (therapist) but him or herself. This gentle interaction is what has inspired curator Renée Riccardo to create a series of art exhibitions she refers to as "Wrap Arounds". Riccardo sought out therapy years ago after a cancer diagnosis. Fortunately, now healed, she, like many of us, realized the comfort that comes in a good therapy session and decided to continue onward. This happened after Riccardo met Lee Shapiro Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Woodhull Hospital through the Artist Access Program. The programs offers artists and those in the art field the opportunity to have free or low-cost health insurance as a barter for artworks or art-related service. Riccardo's own work is photographs she takes of newborns - parents are then presented with their first official baby portrait.
After deciding to expand into a private practice, Dr. Shapiro invited Riccardo to curate shows in his office in exchange for therapy sessions. This agreement is a win-win situation for artist and therapist. Anyone who ventures regularly to a therapist’s office will know that the same paintings or photographs can become monotonous. On this arrangement Riccardo states, "My approach to doing the shows at Lee's office are an extension of my gallery ARENA which has been in various locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn." ARENA now functions as a nomadic venue that moves and breathes and currently has found a home in Shapiro's office. This curatorial methodology is not foreign to Riccardo who is used to inhabiting spaces, and focuses on artists that can still be considered underrepresented. She showed Marilyn Minter in 1991 and also gave the enigmatic Rachel Harrison her first show in Cobble Hill in 1996.
Titled Wrap Around 6, this current incarnation is showing the works of Amanda Browder, Emily Noelle Lambert and Jaena Kwon, a triad of young women artists. Their work engages, engulfs and literally wraps around the viewer. All three artists work within the context of painting and sculpture. The artworks are all irregularly shaped and comfortably function in a non-narrative, sculptural format. Each piece is installed on the wall presenting a space for visual meditation or rest. Lambert and Browder conjure nostalgia via colorful compositions while Kwon’s work brings a contemporary silence to the mix. On working with Riccardo Dr. Shapiro says, "Fair value comes into question. I often check in with Renée to make sure she is comfortable with the arrangement." Artwork is for sale, but he doesn't want a percentage. Then continuing said, "Multiple relationships, [can occur] around things that happen outside the patient relationship. This requires thoughtfulness and it has gone smoothly so far. I've also kept it [the exhibitions] separate from my friends and my personal life." The space feels alive and engaging, exciting but not over stimulating. Dr. Shapiro's one request is to exclude figurative or explicit images that maybe elicit or trigger patients. Otherwise, he gives the space over to Renee to select the artwork and he isn't concerned with whether he likes or doesn't like the result.
They have a public opening and then the space is accessible by appointment only, obviously for patients who are visiting the office for Dr. Shapiro's services or art lovers alike.
Wrap Around 6, is on view at ARENA@Suite806 at 89 Fifth Avenue (near 16th Street), Suite 806, until May 31st, 2015 and is currently open by appointment only. For additional information please contact Renée Riccardo at arenagalbyreneericcardo@gmail
Katy Diamond Hamer is an art writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently contributing to Flash Art International, Sleek, NY Magazine, Whitehot Magazine and others. For more of her writing visit: http://www.eyes-towards-the-dove.com
Photograph by Takis Spyropoulos, 2012
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