I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard about the King of the Cockroaches exhibit at Hercules Art Studio – I am a New Yorker and have my own ideas about these insects. According to the organizers, this show takes its “title from an ancient Arabic preservation myth: the king is invoked as an appeal to insects and worms not to nibble on and destroy important books and scrolls.” Through painting, sculpture, drawing and video, Bill Santen, Becky Brown, Jess Willa Wheaton and Daniel Lichtman address how we deal with the glut of material that surrounds us.
Safe Keeping by Becky Brown is a wry commentary on how we continue to hold on to things that we no longer use and may even be obsolete – where’s the line between preservation and hoarding?
Becky also has several paintings and drawings in the show, including Black and White, a pencil and collage that caught my eye.
Bill Santeen’s three videos are mostly shot in the area by City Island in the Bronx, focusing on subjects as diverse as an immigrant fisherman, boat scrappers, and the preservation of waterfront objects.
Jess Willa Wheaton’s work ranges from small oil paintings such as Sun and Moon Study …
to large (approx. 3ft x 4ft) collages like Post Grocery 4, assembled from unrelated found images, that combine to create something completely new and intriguing.
There are other works by these artists as well as an installation by Daniel Lichtman.
Hercules Art Studios is a 5,700-square-foot space containing seven low-cost artists studios, a common area, an industrial kitchen, bathrooms with showers, and a gallery, and space for public programming. Their artist-run Exhibition Program is currently accepting proposals from independent curators and artists for curated exhibitions and public programming for September 2017 – May 2018. The studios are at 25 Park Place, 3rd Floor, in Lower Manhattan.
King of the Cockroaches is on view until August 16th. The Studios are open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00pm to 6:00pm, or by appointment.