Down 45th Road, in Long Island City, tucked between two brownstones is the home of Jeffrey Leder.
The interior is plain but warm: Wooden floors give off a golden glow from the track lighting and the cream-colored walls have an inviting feel.
Despite the cozy feel, there is no furniture; no trace of the inhabitant. Instead, the home is covered in art.
The Jeffrey Leder Gallery is hosting a juried exhibit entitled: “International Painting NYC III” and unlike many of today’s exhibits, the show features no video, audio or photographic art. Instead, the collection goes back to one of art’s deepest roots: painting.
“I dream of painting, then I paint my dream,” Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most famous painters in history, said.
“International Painting” is a wonderfully refreshing yet familiar experience that shows a wide variety of artists and styles.
Memorable pieces include Christine Karapetian’s “Night Sounds,” which is filled with bright shapes and dark shadows and was constructed on the back of a desk drawer.
She has another piece, “Water from Stones,” that was made using the same method.
But what makes each piece even more interesting has nothing to do with the media with which they were created but the context they have been placed in.
The Jeffrey Leder Gallery doubles as a home for the venue’s namesake, who in no way tries to hide that fact, as proven by the soft “click-clacks” that echo from room to room as Leder’s corgi greets visitors with a sassy bark.
The homey vibe mimics what one might feel sitting in an art collector’s salon rather than the constricting and cold warehouses many galleries choose to hang their pieces in.
Adding to the comfort, many of the artists featured in the show come by to discuss their work with viewers and engage in off-topic conversation. At a private viewing last Tuesday, artists Donna Mehalko and Becky Yazdan were mingling with attendees.
Yazdan’s work explores memory and its fragility. Inspired by her family, the two pieces displayed at the gallery, “Salina” and “Burn,” are both abstract oil paintings that draw the eye.
Mehalko’s work is much more literal. Both of her pieces feature the orange and white smokestacks that are placed atop manholes around the city.
“They are kind of day to day but at the same time there is something unusual and interesting about them,” she said.
Like many painters, she photographs her subjects as opposed to bringing an easel into the middle of a busy Manhattan street to capture the ever-changing cars, pedestrians and goings-on.
Her pieces are quintessential New York and bring a texture and moodiness to brownstones and bicycle riders that are commonplace for many residents.
Art is not something to “get” or “understand”; there is no right or wrong answer for what a painting means. It’s all subjective.
The meaning is found in the emotion a viewer feels when looking at a piece.
Therefore, having the painters available to explain their work isn’t a necessity but does provide a rare look into the creative process and establishes a familiarity that larger art shows cannot logistically achieve.
It is one of the advantages the Jeffrey Leder Gallery has on the trendy venues that surround it, such as the Noguchi Museum, the Sculpture Center and MoMA PS 1.
Up next, the gallery will showcase artists who were a part of the group at 5Pointz
The exhibit will act as a “voice” for the street artists who lost their favored canvas — an old warehouse building where they were free to paint and create — when the owners were granted clearance to create a luxury housing and commercial building.