Saturday, March 6, 2010


I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that our manifest destiny on this continent has long since been fulfilled; the railroads have been built, and the shores of the Pacific Ocean from Malibu to La Jolla have been peppered with the condominiums and bronzed progeny of the Western pioneers. You’ve seen the sublime American landscape of Fredric Edwin Church and Thomas Moran, from Niagara Falls to the Chasm of the Colorado, and you’re pretty sure the terrain has been stomped conclusively into submission under the incessantly pounding feet of Dancing with the Stars. As the natural synecdoche of the rest of the nation, this also applies to New York. You know this because your once-charming pied-à-terre in Bushwick is now a J.Crew, and you’ve heard that there will soon be subway service to alphabet city.

And though perhaps you have never been, you assume things are pretty much the same in New Jersey. Empire has run its course, so to speak, so you might as well just stay east of the Hudson and suffer the congested homogeneity of a Thursday evening in Chelsea.

The exhibition ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK offers both a literal and theoretical alternative to the threat of absolute homeostasis in the artistic biology of the five boroughs. It proposes that the answer lies in moving Westward, into the historic landmarks and wide open spaces of Paterson, New Jersey, and other cities like it. It presents the work of more than 30 contemporary artists in the sprawling space of what was once a silk factory. It seeks to transform the Western fringes of New York City from a locus of exile to a haven of exodus, and to expose the artificiality of the Hudson river border.

Follow this link for previews of the participating artists, curatorial musings, and the show’s vital stats:

-Sarah Humphrey

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