Art Review

Beguiled by Fresh Talent

By BENJAMIN GENOCCHIO

Having talent is not enough for young artists to get ahead today. To be successful they have to cultivate connections by networking with art world professionals.

 

Helping them to do that, Aljira Emerge is an annual career management program at Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art in Newark that prepares young artists for life in the marketplace. A group show is the culmination of the program.

 

This year’s exhibition features the work of 22 artists living and working in New Jersey and New York. It ranges from painting and sculpture to video and installation, though the emphasis is on painting. There is little video and almost no photography, which is surprising given the reigning popularity of these media.

 

Over all, the show, assembled by a guest curator, Christopher Y. Lew, manager of curatorial affairs at New York’s P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, is more conservative than in previous years, with little that will shock or provoke visitors. A lot of the work is even, well, pretty.

Sungmi Lee also makes sculpture using common materials, but focuses on beautiful abstract objects. “Yawning Dream” (2008), made of hundreds of white plastic zip ties, and hanging in the back room, is a highlight of the show. It looks like an exotic sea anemone, or a chandelier made of cotton wool. Either way, it is beautiful.

Yawning Dream_1.jpg

Sungmi Lee’s “Yawning Dream” (2008).

—GENOCCHIO, BENJAMIN . “Beguiled by Fresh Talent.” The New York Times, 22 August 2008.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/24/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/24artsnj.html?ref=nyregionspecial2)