Occasionally, the bottomless procrastination pit of Facebook serves a greater purpose than stalking exes. Sometimes the social network affords a community of strangers the chance to share in a common cause. And sometimes that translates into something tangible, like 111 artists from all across the country exhibiting together at CENTRAL BOOKING on the Lower East Side. Appropriately, curators Susan Carr and Suzan Shutan have titled the resulting show “GOING BIG.”
Shutan first came upon Carr’s work at an exhibit in New Haven, “friending” her soon after and so beginning a fruitful friendship. When the ironically named “OffLINE” space in CENTRAL BOOKING became available for a month earlier this summer, Shutan posted an ad on the “Artist Curator Opportunity Page” on Facebook seeking interest in putting together a show. Carr was the first to respond. They sent out invites to their online network of artists, managing to raise the money required to lease the space in just four short days.
“Many of us have never met, we’ve only known each other through the pictures of our work we posted on Facebook,” said Carr moments before their “salon style” show’s opening.
For many of these artists, it will be their first time exhibiting their works in New York City. For the more established, it’s a chance to share in the encouraging atmosphere created within this intergenerational, multicultural online community of “kindred creative spirits.”
Epitomizing this spirit is Bernard Klevickas, a sculptor whose piece — a sort of curved, half-moon steel scythe – was created in between working a day job. Like most of the artists on show, Klevickas connected with Susan after posting his work on Facebook.
Klevickas said he “sacrificed everything” to keep making his art, and he believes it’s this insatiable passion for creation that binds the community that surrounds “GOING BIG.”
“More so than art as a concept, it’s the process of making — the artist as the maker of a crafted object — that brings us together,” he said.
Joanne Mattera, another exhibiting artist, has a slightly less esoteric view of it all: “It’s just the Facebook’s algorithmic process, you like something of someone’s and I get to see it.”
More than merely Zuckerberg’s machinations or a shared philosophical undercurrent, Tamar Zinn sees it as the act of participation that has come to define the community, a group of earnest individuals driven by a desire to make and share. “Because we’re all posting and seeing so much work, the network grows tighter,” said Zinn, who also maintains a day job outside of the “40 hours a week” she spends in her studio. “It’s all just a way for conversations to get started, from discussing mundane technical aspects to issues of intention.”
Adding to that, Mattera conceded, “It’s encouraging to see other people’s work you like. It really is a large online community of people posting, liking and commenting.”
And of course, “occasionally de-friending” noted self-described “Lower East Side maniac”/artist, Judy Rifka. “Oh, but mostly we are all over each other. Facebook is like a dating site for us… there’s a lot of ‘mutuality,’” she said.
Carr and Shutan looked on proudly as the Central Booking Gallery filled to capacity, admiring the colorful array of characters finally assembled in one room. When asked how she would define the community, Shutan was quick to respond.
“They’re all wonderful artists that have been working most of their lives making art, because it’s just who they innately are.”
GOING BIG runs from July 30 though August 28 at OffLINE at CENTRAL BOOKING, 21 Ludlow Street, New York. Gallery hours are Thursday–Sunday, 12 to 6pm.