On Tuesday morning Jeffrey Leder of the three-year-old Jeffrey Leder Gallery divulged how art works were whittled down from 300 submissions to 12 for the second International Painting NYC exhibition, the first show of the year.
“We narrow it to 50 and then we go out to lunch,” Leder said, “just to get away because it’s hard to make these decisions. Then we go on a walk and make the final cut.”
Artists from Japan, Holland, Colombia and Argentina, as well as a few from here in Queens and elsewhere in the city, display their modern pieces at the gallery.
Although there are more than 1,000 artists’ studios in Long Island City, where Leder is located, there are fewer than a dozen galleries and only a few art museums. Bringing international art to Queens widens the scope of what borough residents can view, he said.
“I wanted to present a venue in Queens where people can see international art,” Leder said.
As for which 12 artisits get picked, there are no hard and fast rules.
“My taste is diverse,” Leder said. “If I like it, I like it. I have a visceral reaction to it.”
Each work creates a different reaction for every person and pulls individuals in differently, he said. That’s what he likes about art.
Leder and his co judge for this show, LIC-based architect and photographer Orestes Gonzalez, don’t look at resumes, instead relying just on the images. The most important part is how strong the piece can stand on its own. ”It’s about 90 percent strength on its own and about 10 percent how they play with others,” he said.
In the back room of the gallery hang many of James Kennedy’s works and one each from Randy Aragon, Wayne Toepp and Adrian Hatfield. More of their works can be seen throughout.
The 10 percent of how these pieces all “play together” is that they all have a somewhat taupe coloration and mechanical feel. Aragon, who lives in Queens, paints thick, loose brush strokes of red, white, brown and purple on an extremely πhick canvas and then covers that free form with rigid lines to create abstract shapes that, depending on the eye of the beholder, look to be anything from tepees to aboriginal masks.
“There’s a sense of rawness,” Leder says of the painting entitled “Homeless.”
Many of the paintings have an urban feel and offer social commentary about poverty, but Leder says this was his subconscious working behind his back.
The other works in the room are Kennedy’s mixed media paintings that use subtle colors, straight lines and circular gear-like shapes — it’s like looking inside a music box that has been splashed with paint.
A large painting by Toepp hangs over the mantle of this very homey gallery — in fact Leder and his family live in an upstairs apartment, although viewers cannot tell that from the gallery space.
Toepp uses images from video surveillance cameras — channeling a film noir vibe — to create his paintings. He uses oil paint (and probably a ruler) to paint straight lines of varying shades, which creates the grainy image of a person, like footage from a grocery store or police tape.
Many guests at last Sunday’s reception asked if the works were photos, but Toepp assures that the extremely realistic paintings were all created by his hand.
Other works in the exhibition step out of the taupe box with lots of colors, such as Jeannette Cherry’s red painting with abstract swirls of almost every other color and Wendy Cross’ careful depictions of downtowns. Her “Great Divide” shows a policeman mediating between two men while other citizens make their way through a rough part of town and the sky erupts with emotion above them.
“Below is urban realism while the sky shows the emotional content — it’s on fire,” Leder said. “This represents, or can represent, the difficulties of living in an urban environment.”
When: Friday through Sunday, 12 to 6 p.m., or by appointment
Where: Jeffrey Leder Gallery, 21-37 45 Road, Long Island City
Tickets: Free, (917) 767-1734