The burgeoning spirit of magic and mysticism responsible for designer tarot decks and the rise of energy field photography emerges at the heart of a group show titled, Season of the Witch. The gallery at the The Seligmann Center where it's on view isn't full of candlelit altars and voodoo dolls, though. Instead, visitors will find abstracted masks by Lucien Shapiro, hand-woven photo portraits by Lala Abaddon, and the intricately bedazzled denim canvases of Evie Falci, among other works by Heather Gabel, Astral Eyes, Hilary White, Hunter Stabler, and Robert Ryan.
As is often the case with magic, part of what makes this show witchy is concealed. Curator Sarah Potter explains that the process behind the works is integral to Season of the Witch's curatorial concept. "All of the artists in the show are creating art with intention, creating in a meditative state and creating intuitively," she says. Shapiro works repetitively, painstakingly crafting his "protection pieces," stud and crystal encrusted baseball bats and daggers, from found and collected objects in what amounts to an obsessive ritual. Abaddon takes a meditative approach to creating her complex designs.
The show draws subtle parallels between the creative power of artists and the archetype of the witch or shaman, but it's not quite as esoteric as that sounds. The psychedelic collages of Astral Eyes, for example, reflect his belief that there is an intimate connection between art and magic and they are laden with symbolism that is personally meaningful for him, however, the bold imagery is powerful enough to make an impact on the uninitiated.
Indeed, many of the works on display are a colorful feast for the eyes, and this is part of Potter's own intention in mounting the exhibit. For her, color has a magic all its own—"color can be healing," the curator says—and the show was assembled in part with an eye for how the pieces related to each other when hung in the same room. "I want to create exhibitions where you take from it what you need to, whether it's just the aesthetic of the visuals or if it's how it makes you feel," She explains. "I hope you feel something."
This incarnation of Season of the Witch is an expanded version of a smaller show that Potter curated at the SPRING/BREAK Art Fair in New York City earlier in the year. It's fitting that it is seeing a larger manifestation at The Seligmann Center: the center is located on the former estate of surrealist painter Kurt Seligmann, who wrote extensively on the subject of magic and ritual. Potter herself takes a strong interest in the metaphysical side of life. She's earned the nickname "the good witch of the art world," but says she used to downplay her "woo-woo" side.
As the culture has become slightly more open to all things woo-woo of late, she's stepped out of the broom closest, combining her sense of the mystical with her curatorial and art advising practice with the aim of helping others to see the magic in art, color and all forms of beauty. She'll happily tell you that, when it comes to magic, "when you open your mind to it, you see it everywhere."
Season of the Witch runs through September 4. To find out more about Sarah Potter's curatorial work, visit her website.