Rooms, presented by Gitler & ______, was quite unlike any other art exhibition I have been to in the city. For one, the show wasn’t happening at a swanky art gallery or some other location that had some sort of artistic aesthetic. Instead, it was being held at the rather industrial-looking fourth floor of an office building at 11 Beach Street in Tribeca.
As the show’s name suggests, the artworks were displayed in eight different rooms on the floor. However, there didn’t seem to be any common thread running through the various pieces of art shown in the exhibit—here, fantastic, striking scenes from the Ramayana enjoyed equal billing with more familiar, everyday scenes from the New York City subway.
My guide at Rooms was the show’s curator himself—Avi Gitler. One of the first things 33-year-old Gitler told me is that he has no formal art education. But after talking with him for a few minutes, I was convinced that Gitler, with his eye for beautiful, daring and powerful pieces of work, was as much of an art connoisseur as any other MFA-wielding critic.
Gitler has spent a good part of his life traveling around the world, most of which he did by living on a very frugal budget and doing several odd jobs to support himself. Yet, it was during these trips that he began to collect various pieces of art—he would pay the artists with money that he had saved on forgoing some other kind of luxury.
“I’d sleep in parks,” Gitler recalled. “And the day after I slept in a park, I’d be in an artist studio buying something with the money I had saved.” After nearly ten years of such expeditions around the world, Gitler decided to use the relationships he had made with artists over the years to start his own, innovatively-named art business: Gitler & ______.
Rooms is Gitler’s fourth exhibition in the city. “I like the idea of people navigating the spaces by themselves,” he said, referring to the manner in which visitors browse through the space and enter the various rooms on the floor. Each door leads to a very distinct realm of art, and the confinement of the rooms allows visitors to have a very intimate, personal art experience.
For instance, stepping into Australian artist Kristian Glynn’s room will put you in contact with bold, stark images that speak of pain, turmoil and anguish. Step out and then walk into Boy Kong’s world—this recent high school graduate’s vibrant, outlandish works will have you gaping at them for a good few minutes.
Take a minute to marvel over Tanmoy Majumder’s mythological woodcuts. Remember to do a pirouette to take in Tirtzah Bassel’s impressive New York subway scenes, made entirely out of duct tape. Erin Hall’s paintings are both evocative and haunting, while Theresa Marchetta’s level of detail in her acryclic paintings is simply supreme.
From exquisite landscapes to outlandish portraits, Rooms has a wide variety of artworks to impress you with. If you see a work that you especially like, do not hesitate in asking for its price—Gitler hasn’t forgotten his own low budgets while buying art, and Rooms has works of art that are selling at very affordable rates—there are some works that cost less than $200.
But besides the splendid pieces of art and their low prices, what makes Rooms an especially interesting exhibition to visit is, well, Gitler himself. This charming, enterprising curator will take you around the exhibit, embellishing each of the works you see with stories about the artists, how he met them, and, of course, the artwork itself.
Gitler will effortlessly engage you into a conversation, and while the talk may veer off into several tangents, rest assured that you will come off it enriched and enchanted. After all, art is better after discussing it with someone, and at Rooms, Gitler seems to be ever ready for an engaging art chat—your satisfaction is almost certainly guaranteed.
Rooms will be showcased at 11 Beach Sreet in Tribeca, Monday-Thursday, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., up till March 14, 2013. A closing reception for Rooms will be held at the venue on March 14th, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Get in touch with the author @thisisaby.