Amsterdam News, Thursday, May 28 - June 3, 2009

Arts & Entertainment: Triple Candie returns to Harlem

By Damaso Reyes

For nearly a year, the art scene in Harlem has been a little less sweet, a little less interesting. When the nonprofit art gallery Triple Candie closed its doors in search of a better home, one fo the most interesting spaces in Northern Manhattan left a void.

Art lovers can now rejoice, as Triple Candie has returned to Harlem a bit wiser, a bit further uptown, but still as irreverent and interesting as ever. Now located at 500 West 148th Street, just west of Amsterdam Avenue, the new space is more compact, but the vision is as expansive as ever.

"I think our shows will be more focused because our space is more focused," Peter Nesbett, who along with Shelly Bancroft, runs the space, told the Amsterdam News during a recent visit. "People can still stumble across us and have an unexpectd experience."

The gallery still has a slightly unfinished feeling with exposed brick walls serving as a mirror to the pristine white walls that are newly finished. At 1,500 square feet, the space is much smaller than the previous home of Triple Candie, but it still feels expansive without seeming over-whelming.

The new gallery is also further uptown, which the directors believe will also influence their choices in the art they display. "We will probably focus more on Latin American culture and art because of the demographic of the neighborhood," Nesbett said. "Almost Baroque," the first show in the new space, was dedicated, in Triple Candie style, to exploring the art of El Mundo, a discount department store that sells, among other things, framed lithographic prints styled after old master still lives. These are literally copies of copies of copies and, in many cases, are pastiches of several different paintings.

These $10 and $25 prints were hung in the gallery and treated as seriously as the paintings they are meant to imitate. This conflation and exploration of originality and the nature and definition of art is far more interesting than the vast majority of shows you will see at commercial galleries downtown. Triple Candie never takes itself too seriously, but what it does do -- and very well I might add -- is attempt to deconstruct the high walls of so called "serious" art and help the viewer to understand what they are seeing and th meaning behind it.

All too often, the guardians of the art world try to protect their turf. At Triple Candie, the goal is to give everyone a stake in the art world, viewer and artist alike. For too many months, Harlem's art world has not been sweet enough. Thank goodness Triple Candie has returned!


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