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DKNY's New Art City Show Was Pretty Good

Some of new New York's downtown artists assembled for a group show with the underwritten guidance of DKNY, who as of late seem to be moving back into their rightful place amongst the city's beloved fashion staples, whether you remember their once...

Jesse Miller-Gordon

The flyer came like medieval horns signaling a siege on a castle, warning the goofily dressed youths who still bother to move to New York, that the bi­annual glamor shaming of fashion week is indeed around the corner. The ‘downtown’ line up of artists, long since moved from downtown, assembled under the underwritten guidance of DKNY, who as of late seem to be moving back into their rightful place amongst the stalwarts, whether you remember their once ubiquitous SoHo billboard or not.

The show, as it turns out, came to be in nearly the most downtown way possible. Carlos Santolalla, the show’s curator, a young, excited, and generally nice person, reads as overworked, but more or less elated with the end result of his labor. He approached a DKNY creative after walking in their runway show last winter, more or less blurting out that they should finance an art show. And that was that.

“They asked for some things when they handed over a check, I said no, and they were OK with that.”

As the show begun, a small crowd gathered outside a gallery space you haven’t heard of on West Broadway—long since the bottom street cradling the stripmall of SoHo past. By 8 PM the line to get in stretched down the block.

The list of artists would get a familiar nod from natives and transplants alike. New downtown staples like photographer and selfie master Nick Sethi had work displayed. Next to it, a urethane challah backpack that paid homage to the ‘it’ bags of the early aughts by Canadian upstart Chloe Wise. Springing from a series of pieces relating bread puns, it’s the kind of funny you move to the city in search of. Across the wall and over a few feet from there, hung a painting by Winston Chmielinski, which was pretty great. Other talented familiars included photographers Miyako Bellizzi and Danielle Ruether. From there the list of artists only got younger.

“I’ve been on Adderall for like 15 years” began artist Matt Starr, describing his piece focused on ‘Diet’ which took up half the space. The show was meant to evoke downtown, and with a distilled look reminiscent of Dis Magazine and yoga mom in Lululemon, his seemed to be approaching a reality. “I thought it would be interesting to create this lifestyle brand about dieting, [which is] a more accurate description of this ‘downtown’ aesthetic.”

Though billed as a one-night affair, the show may be up for a few days, depending on which way the wind blows. In a city too now known as ‘too expensive to make art in’ (according to David Byrne) the ‘kids’ packed it in, showed, and by the look of it, sold work. Op­eds by aging creatives and the looming expectations of an older generation to uphold a gritty Bowery feel all the way from an apartment in Brooklyn notwithstanding, there is a downtown somewhere here. We should just stop calling it that.

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