On June 19th, as commuters exited the J train at the Kosciusko Street stop deep in Bushwick, Brooklyn they were met by a pop-up exhibit of 14 emerging artists. Merging the aesthetics of a gallery space with the spontaneous nature of street art, Subway Show, presented by the art space Apostrophe NYC, sought to rethink the politics of art accessibility.
“The show is more accessible then a typical art show, because it is about bringing disparate things together in a singular and temporary experience,” says Apostrophe co-founder Sei Smith. This was the second unauthorized subway art show the gallery has staged. “Traditionally, Chelsea galleries are mostly inaccessible, closed off and normally attract insular communities. Apostrophe has always strived to open its doors up to as many people as possible and the Subway Show is a direct extension of that ideal,” says Ki Smith, co-founder of Apostrophe and Sei's brother.
Conceptual artist Matt Starr whose untitled green slime painting hung on the platform describes his participation in the show as anti-traditional art world. “Most of my work is about accessibility. I don't have to compromise with sticking it in a gallery and limiting my audience.” As small children were touching the green slim on Starr’s canvas he explained, “I love knowing that there's a possibility a homeless person or someone who doesn't necessarily have a strong relationship with art will have an equal opportunity to experience it without the stigma they may feel going into a gallery or museum.”
The renegade art show was eventually broken up by the NYPD. “You can’t have an art show on a train platform,” said one uniformed cop as he instructed the artists to pack up their work. “Let me take a selfie before they ruin it,” said one commuter who walked towards artist Dennis Yang’s On the Internet installation of grass, where a patch of grass opened up to reveal an infinity mirror. The exhibit also included performance artist Stephen Lurie’s “Penny for your thoughts/word of advice,” where he solicited commuters thoughts and gave them advice from his cardboard office fashioned as a therapist couch.
See the installtion in the video below: