Gallery 51 tries creating utopia through this month’s exhibit “Space was the Place,” exploring what makes society perfectthrough the eyes of multiple artists. The exhibit curator is Alex Young, an artist with ties in North Adams.
Gallery manager Ven Voisey explained “Space” as a result of artist-to-artist conversations.
“It’s all about failed utopias,” Voisey said. “Alex centered a lot his own work for this project around a man named King Gillette, who believed in utopian socialism.”
King Gillette, the creator of Gillette Razors, believed in a world that was ruled by corporation, where every continent would have one city seen as their metropolis. Gillette actually offered Theodore Roosevelt $1 million to run the U.S. metropolis. Roosevelt declined.
“Space” features nine artists and their visions of a perfect society. The exhibit, Young said, is meant to bring together a collection of works that addresses disdain for the present with attempts to attain perfection in the future.
“It’s meant to take you on a ride,” Voisey said. “Here is failed utopia, but these artists play historians, creative historians. These are utopian experiments.”
Attempts at perfection are dreams often deferred, and “Space” turns a focus on such attempts. Through simple sculptures that explain the physical layout of suburban cul-de-sacs to the complex idea of leaving Earth to live on the moon, the exhibit portrays the different perceptions of what people want the future to bring in terms of living.
“The exhibit shows the continual mutation of ideas that shapes our future,” Voisey said. “While the pieces were being put together, North Adams as a whole was discussed; it’s kind of hard not to.”
As any student will tell you, North Adams is always changing. The city continues to revamp itself after the loss of industry more than two decades ago. With MASS MoCA opening in 1999 and Main Street becoming a hub of modern art, North Adams has tried to reshape itself to create a better future. This concept plays almost directly into “Space.” It would be no surprise if someone associated the city as the immediate inspiration for the Gallery 51 exhibit.
While “Space” is coming to the end of its run on Sept. 25, Gallery 51’s DownStreet Art continues the season affiliated with the College. Visual arts professor Gregory Scheckler will showcase pieces he has been creating for the last 21 years. His drawings, photography, and new allegorical paintings will be on display. A cultured artist who has studied in Italy, the professor’s exhibit “Remixed Messages” will be showcasing in Gallery 51 from Sept. 29 to Oct. 23.
Much like Gillette, Frank Lloyd Wright ventured toward utopia through invention and culture defining. Along with creating what is now known as the ‘ranch’ house, Wright also believed perfect livability for America existed in round plots for every home to be set upon. However, suburban landscapes developed differently over time, leaving the Wright belief in the dust.