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Puddle, Pothole, Portal at SculptureCenter

An engaging group exhibition ushering in the Long Island City institution's newly expanded and redesigned building

by David Graver
on 03 October 2014

Originally founded in 1928 as The Clay Club by sculptor Dorothea Denslow, SculptureCenter has had many locations and iterations and made an undeniable impact on the NYC arts community—both established and emerging. Back in 2001, the organization purchased a former trolley repair shop in Long Island City, Queens, which they transformed into a 6,000 square foot interior exhibition space, and a 3,000 square foot garden. Altogether, a nice new home. Now, for the first time since their shift to this space, they are debuting a major overhaul—and with it, a debut exhibition dubbed "Puddle, pothole, portal."


Appropriately, the major theme of the joint showcase happens to be space itself, whether that's real or just an illusion. Delving deeper, the exhibition questions the impact of space on artistic ideation and production, and our own personal perceptions of spatial usage. There, 23 artists unite, with works on display ranging from sculpture to cartoons. And, as their centerpiece, the chaotic yet thoughtful illustrations of Saul Steinberg truly embody the idea of shared space and its societal impact.

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In addition to Steinberg's complex and colorful realities, many artists on show have produced new works just for the exhibition—and many offer a hint of interaction. Camille Blatrix's singing mailbox requires a hunt for a key upon the delivery of mail. Marlie Mul makes use of band-aids. Suspended objects by Chadwick Rantanen add an additional dimension to the space. Even Allison Katz's site-specific painting plays upon the architecture of its current home within SculptureCenter.

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This isn't work to just be observed; it's art worth enjoying. There's a playful essence to many individual pieces, and the exhibition as a whole. But perhaps most importantly, as the first show in a revitalized space, it emphasizes the dynamic grandeur of SculptureCenter's location. Co-curators Ruba Katrib and artist Camille Henrot, along with the organization, have mapped out a diverse, yet thematically taut must-see in Queens.


"Puddle, pothole, portal" is on view now until 5 January 2015, with an opening reception and community day open to the public this Sunday, 5 October 2014, from 2–5PM. More exhibition-related special events programming will unfold in the following months.

Install images courtesy of Jason Mandella, other images courtesy of their respective artists

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