"The Best Art In The World"
By DANA NOTINE, February 2022
P.A.D (Project Art Distribution) is a gallery known for its day-long exhibitions on the streets of New York City. Often identified by their signature moving blanket/shipping pad displays, the 5 year legacy of P.A.D is being celebrated at Walter’s, the Contemporary Wing of the Walter Elwood Museum in Amsterdam, New York with In With The Old: a retrospective and rummage sale, an exhibition that traces the history of the artist-run space.
Primarily displayed on the moving blankets that P.A.D has become synonymous with, the show features art by over 200 artists, amounting to over 400 individual works. The exhibition opened in November of 2021 at the newly inaugurated Walter's, a section of the Walter Elwood Museum; a local history museum that houses 25,000 artifacts related to the Mohawk Valley.
Like Walter’s, P.A.D praises accessibility. Its name succinctly declares a mission to bring art to the people, through accessible prices, in locations beyond gallery walls. A typical P.A.D art show features artwork that can be contained within a moving blanket. Within the 72”x80” arena, artworks must meet a criteria of accessible pricing (under $75.00) and a degree of weather-resistance. During each exhibit, a representative from P.A.D (often the director and founder, Patrick Mohundro) personally facilitates the sales, wraps the artwork, and sends the viewer home with a piece of the experience. P.A.D’s rebellious style of guerilla display transforms the simple setup of a blanket placed onto a sidewalk into a legitimate gallery space. Through its unapologetic presentation, P.A.D inspires its patrons and artists to think beyond the white cube. P.A.D does not wait to be legitimized by an art world powered by exclusion.
To organize a retrospective for something that's existed for only five years is bold, but in the case of P.A.D’s prolific output, deeply warranted. Additionally, the use of "rummage sale" in the show's title playfully points to the grassroots aesthetic of the project's brand. P.A.D’s curated bazaar reflects and affirms the style of display within the history museum itself. The show is spread throughout four rooms, in which a balance of works are displayed on the floor, the wall, or a moving blanket-upholstered set of shelves or tables. The pieces cluster and converse in a tight-knit display, fraternizing with one another like the artists who made them likely would during the exhibitions they premiered in. A lavishly colored zine room, replete with artist produced texts- a treasure trove of smaller exhibitions- is encased by marbled wallpaper designed by Lauren Clay, a permanent installation at Walter’s.
Often, P.A.D pops up at any given location in SoHo—you find it while not expecting to interact with art. This playfulness and willingness to experiment encapsulates the spirit of P.A.D, which challenges the qualities that restrict the gallery experience- such as exclusionary walls, exorbitant prices, and commonplace artworld smugness. Instead, P.A.D creates their own gallery model, one motivated by respect for artists, community, and the wonder of inheriting something made by another human being. P.A.D’s ingenuity is matched by the exciting venue of Walter's through its curation and displays. In both P.A.D and Walter's, we see artists carve out space for their projects and make things happen, without waiting for the formalized art world to grant it permission to exist.
In With The Old is curated by Sophia Ma with Eliana Blechman. It is open through March 4, 2022 at Walter’s at the Walter Elwood Museum in Amsterdam, New York. WM
Dana Notine is an art historian and curator based in Brooklyn, NY.view all articles from this author