…”Once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”
―John Steinbeck, Nobel Prize winner in literature
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 13th from 5 pm to 8 pm
320 West 23rd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue
Masks are Required
Alpha 137 Gallery in collaboration with the non-profit Chashama presents a group exhibition of paintings, editions, posters and sculptures celebrating NYC by artists including Andy Warhol, Wayne Thiebaud, Red Grooms, Jack Youngerman, Bob Gruen, Massimo Vignelli, Thelma Appel, Yvonne Jacquette and Nancy Graves.
NEW YORK CITY. It’s been more than a year since the coronavirus began ravaging New York City; tens of thousands of lives have been lost, businesses shuttered, and residents have fled en masse to the suburbs, to other parts of the country - and to any place but here.
But not everyone. Nadine Witkin, who runs Alpha 137 Gallery out of a home/office in Harlem, stayed in the city with her family throughout the pandemic: “There was a time when all the residents in our building had left except us. Our neighbor on the top floor moved to rural Pennsylvania; the couple below us escaped to Florida, and the family directly above us bolted to Martha’s Vineyard; the folks above them rented a lakeside cottage in Connecticut, vacationed in Florida and then went hiking in North Carolina. Not us: the closest we came to hiking was climbing a hill in Morningside Park to feed the stray cats, some of whom were abandoned by Columbia University students who left when the school shut down", said Witkin.
This Spring, when Chashama offered Alpha 137 Gallery the opportunity to exhibit at 320 West 23rd Street as part of their Storefront Startup Program, Nadine did not hesitate to accept. She said the theme her team chose for their first show: art that celebrates NYC, was a no-brainer, because “New York remains one of the most exciting places on earth, and people who bet against this city’s revitalization do so at their own peril.”
Highlights of the exhibition include:
Melting Pot Flag, by Massimo Vignelli , 1976/1989
A silkscreen masterpiece by legendary Italian-born designer Massimo Vignelli – a quintessential New Yorker, who was perhaps best known for designing the iconic New York City subway map used for decades by millions of straphangers from all five boroughs. Melting Pot Flag incorporates typesets and torn pages from vintage foreign newspapers sold in the 1980s by Hudson News in New York City - including El Diario, The New York Post, The New York Times, Il Progresso (Italian), Novoe Russkoe Slovo (Russian) the National Herland (Greek American newspaper), the Yiddish newspaper and others. Its message is clear: New York, and by extension, America, is a melting pot of different people, languages and cultures.
Debbie Harry – New York City - 1977, by Bob Gruen, 2014
A magnificent silkscreen on 2-ply Lenox museum board by the famous Rock & Roll photographer, in collaboration with master printmaker Gary Lichtenstein, based upon Gruen’s iconic 1977 photograph of Deborah Harry (Blondie) – a true avant-garde New Yorker.
New York State Governors Arts Award, by Nancy Graves, 1988
In 1988, sculptor Nancy Graves was commissioned to create this unique patinated bronze piece to be given to the winner of the prestigious New York State Governor's Arts Award. The recipient of the award was legendary soprano Beverly Sills for the New York City Opera. Beverly Sills (nee Bubbles Silverman) - one of the most celebrated and beloved New Yorkers - would go on to become the general manager of the New York City Opera. In 1994, she became the chairwoman of Lincoln Center and then, in 2002, chairwoman of the Metropolitan Opera. Sculptor Nancy Graves was an avant-garde filmmaker and world traveler who incorporated elements of classical antiquity, as well as Ancient Egyptian, African, Japanese, Korean, and Indian art into her work. In 1969, only five years after getting her MFA from the Yale School of Art & Architecture. she became the first woman to be awarded a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The plaque is welded to the base of the sculpture. An exceptional piece symbolizing the vibrancy of the arts in New York City.
Lincoln Center Ticket by Andy Warhol, 1967 (Feldman & Schellmann, II.19). This iconic limited edition silkscreen is Andy Warhol’s homage to an enduring cultural center of New York City. This work simultaneously reflects Warhol's central preoccupations with commercial culture (the ticket is, par excellence, an object that is bought and sold), as well as his fascination with the movies - as the Ticket, quite literally, represents an entree into the world of film. Lincoln Center Ticket is also Warhol's homage to fellow Pop provocateur, Claes Oldenburg, famous for appropriating everyday objects and re-imagining them on the grand scale - as Warhol was acutely aware of the works of his contemporaries. Warhol's appropriation of the flower in this work, an otherwise sentimental and decorative motif, by transforming it into a symbol of the Pop Art movement, is a hallmark of his early style and innovations.
Meeting Plaza, by Thelma Appel, 2018
An exquisite 25-color limited edition silkscreen printed by Gary Lichtenstein Editions. The work is evocative of New York's Rockefeller Center and the United Nations, but the flags are abstracted, to emphasize international unity, rather than single out any individual country. The artist explained: "I wanted to convey a city that welcomed all nationalities and all people… The flags for me are a counterpoint to the city’s geometric architecture, and their suggested movement and irregular shapes echo the organic morphology of the people below. I painted an evening sky. It is dusk. Nobody is rushing. People are conversing with each other, walking slowly or gathering in small groups enjoying a calm evening in the New York City…I, too, am one of the people converging at the 'Meeting Plaza' ...”
New York City Newsstand, Extra! Extra! Read All About It!, 2003, by Red Grooms
In this Mixed Media 3-D Construction in custom fitted lucite box, Pop Art star Red Grooms revisits the rich subject matter of his New York City neighborhood. This newsstand portrays one of the most common New York street corner sights. Grooms’ extraordinary eye for detail and his depiction of a few of the city’s eccentrics makes for a colorful and entertaining scene.
For twenty-six years, Chashama has transformed unused space for 30,000 artists, hosted 4,000 public art events, provided 1,500 free art classes in underserved communities, and reached audiences of nearly a million.
About Alpha 137 Gallery
Alpha 137 Gallery is a popular contemporary art boutique, with a decade and a half of experience selling fine art online. The gallery boasts an impressive, loyal roster of thousands of domestic and international clients - both very seasoned and aspiring collectors. In the Summer of 2020, Nadine launched Pets of the Pandemic, a pet portrait competition for professional artists juried by art historian David Cohen, publisher and editor of Artcritical.com, which was profiled by NY1/Spectrum News. Alpha 137 Gallery’s founder, Nadine Witkin, the daughter of renowned modernist sculptor Isaac Witkin (1936-2006), is an award-winning television producer who has worked at CNN, NBC News & Entertainment (“The Jane Pauley Show”), CBS News (“This Morning”), CBS News Productions, Al Jazeera America, Fox Business and A & E Networks, as well as independent film production companies. She is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the International Sculpture Center (2017-2020), and a passionate contemporary art collector and advisor.
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Alpha 137 Gallery