For those truly interested in the creative process and desire an inside look at the mind of the artist, FIRST/shift/THIRD is a show not to be missed. The Milk Crate Gallery in Frenchtown, New Jersey opened the show on January 3rd to a packed house. Crowds and conversations spilled out onto Race street. Visitors mingled shoulder-to-shoulder discussing the diverse group of artists and artwork assembled by curator Graham Preston. Preston brought together established and experienced artists, convinced them to exhibit their outliers and give public access to their misfit works. Artists rarely expose the artworks that are outside of their known catalogue to public scrutiny despite the importance these pieces contribute to the creative process. Preston refers to these pieces as the shift. In his terminology, the shift represents “works in which something happened, an [artist] got thrown for a loop, a curve ball, yet they still connected, and whose outcome, whether foul or fair, caused the artist to shift gears and change course into unseen and more fertile lands of poetic revery.”
In FIRST/SHIFT/THIRD each piece shown is accompanied by a written explanation from the artist giving context to the impact of the exhibited piece on the artist’s studio practice and larger body of work. Kelley Hegemes’ writing describes both the anguish and relief produced by artworks which create this movement in an artists’ practice. Her sentiments are echoed by sentiments shared during the FIRST/SHIFT/THIRD artist talk. Surprising departures include Astrid Bowlby’s plaster, wax, and wire sculpture, so different from her dense drawings and room installations; and Annelies von Dommelen who’s mixed media work only vaguely references themes of nature which dominate her better known work.
FIRST/SHIFT/THIRD is open through the end of January. Gallery hours are Thursday-Sunday. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment.
Milk Crate Gallery: 13 Race Street, Frenchtown NJ, 08825