Eighteen months after opening its doors, photographer Theo Coulombe’s Standard Space Gallery celebrates its 13th show, Brooklyn mixed-media artist Naomi Reis’ Mirror Room. The show, appropriately, arrives just as the gallery begins to cement its identity – as a conduit coupling the undercurrent of creative energy “upstate” with the youth, relevance and dynamism of Brooklyn.
A departure from Reis’ previous work, Mirror Room is a collection of mixed-media paintings and colored-pencil drawings born from Reis’ capture of spontaneous moments, which are then reconfigured to create a very deliberate and subjective sense of location and identity. “There’s always a search for ‘place’ in my work,” Reis says.
The exhibition takes its inspiration from a Noh musical theater ritual, in which the actor sits before a full-length mirror in a dark, empty space behind the curtain, reflecting for a moment to select the mask of the character they’ll inhabit for the audience. The shape they take on within this space in between real life and stage helps lend form to their performance.
Coulombe’s gallery, as a public space, draws it purpose from a similar idea. As its name might suggest, Standard Space serves as its own kind of understated negative space, allowing the artwork and creative community brought into it to take shape.
This receptive approach has put Standard Space in position to help shape a movement amongst the peaceful hills of Northwest Connecticut and the Eastern Hudson Valley. Alongside, and in conjunction with, efforts like The Wassaic Project and the recent cultural rebirth of Troutbeck, both of which sit just miles from Standard Space, a new creative energy is beginning to coalesce. Less than a mile away from the gallery’s doors is Jasper John’s bucolic estate, which is slated to eventually become an artist residency program. Emerging and established artists alike have long been drawn to the area — as a way to leave the confines and anxieties of the city for a place where they can ruminate and reflect, but still feel the buzz of creativity and community.
The relative lack of competition for – and anxiety over – space presents a rare opportunity for artists living, creating and showing in bustling cities. Also stripped away is much of the artifice and stratification that can splinter creative life in New York City and other art capitals.
The diverse group of artists the gallery has brought to the hills of Northwest Connecticut can feel at home in a place that needs them, welcomes them, and provides the quiet void, the “mirror room,” where they can meditate for a brief moment before presenting their innermost selves to the world. The show will run until April 7, during gallery hours, from Friday to Sunday, 12 to 6 p.m., or by appointment.
Opening: Saturday, March 9, 5:30 – 8 pm
147 Main Street