NURTUREart, the East Williamsburg not-for-profit art gallery, has a busy line-up of summer programming with a variety of shows rotating through the main gallery every week. New director Marco Antonini planned the summer program, entitled WE ARE: as an examination of the space’s identity, as well as that of the community within which it operates.

The line-up combines artists and curators with whom Antonini has an ongoing dialogue (Miguel Amado, Ryan Kitson) and with representatives of the rapidly expanding Bushwick gallery scene (Famous Accountants, Fortress to Solitude, and Regina Rex).

I visited the gallery during sculptor Ian Pedigo’s week-long exhibition.  The artist draped a number of large pieces of fabric in various shades of grey, plus one red piece, on horizontal lengths of metal tubing hanging from the ceiling. There was no title or information about the piece available at the gallery because, Assistant Director Rachel Steinberg explained, the artist had free reign of the gallery to make whatever he saw fit, and this was what he came up with just days before.  The piece reminded me of a childhood fort, updated and validated with a modern, minimalist aesthetic and color scheme.  It didn’t seem to amount to much visually or conceptually.

This is a risk NURTUREart is taking with WE ARE:. It gives artists and curators the freedom to experiment and react intuitively to the space for a week-long show. This could result in some innovative projects that could only happen outside the established commercial gallery sphere. Famous Accountants’ upcoming week of psychological “encounter group sessions,” scheduled for August 17–22, based on Joy: Expanding Human Awareness by William C. Schutz (1967), seems promising. Or, we could end up with something like Pedigo’s installation, which might have seemed like a great idea, but once realized, fell flat.

WE ARE:, organized by Marco Antonini. On view: Ian Pedigo, Image Above the Floor, 2011. Metal conduit, recycled fabrics and wire.

Also on view outside the main gallery is VIDEOROVER: Season II, a series of 8 videos which rotates daily, curated by Rachel Steinberg.  The day I visited, a video by Cecilia Bonilla was playing, featuring still images of windblown fashion model faces bouncing up and down in the frame to the rhythm of trotting horse’s hooves.  The video ironically celebrates two girlish fantasies: ponies, and having model looks. Bonilla casts the ubiquitous image of female beauty as presented in magazine advertisements in an absurd and amusing light.

The curatorial strategy in WE ARE: is emblematic of the new approach Antonini brings to the gallery since taking over from Benjamin Evans as director.  NURTUREart will begin presenting a few one-person shows along with its usual guest-curated exhibitions. This is perhaps due to the fact that NURTUREart’s reputable online registry of emerging artists has recently been taken offline for server maintenance, and therefore, the not-for-profit’s strict requirement that 50% of artists in each show be a part of the registry have been lifted.  Even the group shows will no longer need to include mostly registry artists as they did in the past, and can have a minimum of four artists instead of six.  These changes make for a more flexible curatorial strategy that reacts immediately and intuitively to the emerging artists that the gallery serves.

NURTUREart will open a new exhibition every Friday throughout the summer for WE ARE:, organized by Marco Antonini.

Next Friday, July 22, 2011, is the opening reception for WE ARE: Miguel Amado, from 6 to 8 PM.