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Socrates Sculpture Park opens a satellite exhibit

Alyson Shotz, "Wavelength 2," 2008-2013. Photo courtesy artist and Derek Eller Gallery, New York
TimesLedger Newspapers

Next week Socrates Sculpture Park moves to Manhattan.

Although the outdoor gallery has no plans to abandon its Long Island City home, it will open an off-site exhibition Tuesday at a Midtown office building.

“We’re going to bring a little bit of the outdoors indoors and vice versa,” John Hatfield, Socrates’ executive and artistic director, said.

“Fact of the Matter,” at the 1285 Ave. of the Americas Art Gallery, includes about two dozen pieces created by nine artists in the various mediums for which each person is known.

The show’s title plays on a double meaning: Fact of the matter relates to the specific properties of each material used by an artist, but also explains why they opt to use the stuff they do — sort of like, as a matter of fact.

Included in the show are works constructed of rubber and steel, scorched wood and polystyrene among other mediums.

By focusing on one or two mediums — as opposed to a collage — artists create works which tend to explore the scientific properties of the materials, Hatfield said. But in this case, he said, the artists also bring a poetic and emotional viewpoint to their works.

“All of the artists have an involvement with the materials and create a dialogue with the materials,” Hatfield said. “These artists’ works are about energy and vibrancy.”

Besides working in specific mediums, these nine artists also share the fact they have each exhibited work at Socrates.

For this latest exhibition, Hatfield selected a variety of artists, including ones with limited experience showing, others in a mid-career phase and some older individuals, who are internationally known.

Most of the pieces in the show are relatively new, with most being made within the last year or so. Two of the artists are creating site-specific works for the exhibition.

“The space couldn’t be more different than Socrates,” Hatfield said. “It’s a midtown corporate lobby space. Typically it shows small, discrete pieces. Here, we are pushing the envelope.”

The Manhattan gallery includes 20-foot by 10-foot bays, where the sculptures will be displayed. Visitors will also have a chance to view photographs of each of the artists’ work spaces. These pictures include studios crammed with planks of cedar wood, metal clamps, broken glass and even used tires.

“It becomes immediately apparent the relationship the artists have with the materials,” Hatfield said.

Another thing that is apparent to Hatfield is the exposure Socrates will receive during the show’s run.

“Thousands and thousands of people pass through that lobby,” Hatfield said. “This is going to bring people to Queens. Sometimes you have to go out to bring people in.”

If you go

“Fact of the Matter”

Where: 1285 Ave. of the Americas Art Gallery, Manhattan

When: Jan. 21 to May 16, Monday-Friday, 8 am-6 pm

Cost: Free

Contact: (718) 956-1819

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