Geary Contemporary

There is a particular charm in the area around the 70 Charlton condos that makes Geary Contemporary seem like a neighborhood fixture as much as it is an art world heavy hitter. The beauty of the river and its nearby parks and the quaintness of the streets dotted with intimate cafés, brownstones, and open loft spaces create an atmosphere of aesthetic curiosity that primes you for the innovations of the gallery’s artists.

For five years, Jack Geary and Dolly Bross Geary have been bringing to the forefront of the New York art scene the kind of work that is both deeply engaged with formal innovation and unafraid to be challenging. A current exhibition, The Sentinels by Rachel Frank and Heidi Lau, which is running through July 14th, juxtaposes the two artists’ sculptures, moldings, and video art to reveal “the stark reality of an uncertain future informed by the materiality of the past.”

The theme of “sentinels” or “guardians” unites the exhibition, literally, physically, and perhaps ominously beginning with Lau’s “Primordial Molder,” a “gargantuan ceramic serpent” that stands guard at the front of the gallery. From there, Lau takes visitors on a journey that encompasses disembodied hands, peacock feathers (and eyes), and a “Mountain of Knives” installation that gives the nod to one of the levels of Taoist hell.

Meanwhile, in Frank’s accompanying “Pattern for a Yurt” series, gorgeous hand-beaded panels address the current and future need for guardians from the elements by evoking the protective quality of the traditional felt yurts that sheltered nomadic people throughout Central Eurasia. Her ceramic animal-shaped vessels (reminiscent of ancient clay ritual objects) are “installed in a herd,” where “they retain their sculptural quality, and appear again in the artist’s video, rhythmically being filled and drained against the ebb and flow of tides responding to rising sea levels.” Frank even resuscitates “an extinct woolly mammoth speaking in fragmented monologue.”

This is an important exhibition that is as serious and bold as its artists. Frank has an acute interest in “the intersection of wildlife, wildlife corridors, borders, and drought in the borderlands.” Lau, whose ceramic sculpture work was shown through Geary at NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance), was recently listed by ARTSPACE as one of “8 Artists You Can’t Miss from NADA,” and her piece The Butterfly Murders Hideout was acquired by the Bronx Museum as part of the NADA New York Acquisition Gift.

Geary represents a wide assortment of midcareer artists and up-and-comers like Lau, Frank, Ceyda Aykan, and William Corwin. Having a gallery of this caliber just around the corner from the SoHo condos at 70 Charlton is like having a direct line to the most exciting new artists, as close as your favorite morning coffee spot. After all, proximity makes it easy to form an ongoing relationship to the space and its artists. The art becomes a central part of your life in the neighborhood, and when the right piece strikes you the right way, it can transition to becoming a part of your collection at your 70 Charlton home.

Image Courtesy of © Geary Contemporary