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The 5th of July
The 5th of July
February 4, 2016 – May 1, 2016
- Supporter Hours ?
- February 4, 2016 at 6:00 pm
This show is about the day after – the day after the neighborhood block parties; the day after when the smoke and smell of sulfur linger and when the remaining food on the picnic table bakes in the morning sun – the buildup and the break down.
This group exhibition includes a diverse range of materials and medias, such as: painting, photo, video, ceramics, and a new large-scale sculpture by New York-based, Smyrna, Georgia-born Charles Harlan. Exhibiting artists:
Alex Da Corte
Each work is unified in its exploration of failed promise of the day after.
My parents saw the writing on the wall. Our neighborhood, the neighborhood they both grew up in, was changing rapidly before our eyes. More and more we were seeing Northside houses with broken windows – resulting from frequent domestic disputes – being covered up with cardboard or stapled in drug rugs or Iron Maiden flags with their lobotomized mummy mascot Eddie wreaking doom from beyond the grave. These quick fixes were no match for fidgety of a lakefront superstorm. More kids were wearing the same outfits to school each day, parents making the leap from booze to drugs, it was time to split and not look back. Many of our friends and neighbors reconvened and were close again in suburbs like North Syracuse, Baldwinsville, Liverpool, but there was one hold out from the old days that refused to abandon ship. John Curatola.
John was pathological. No one was sad to see him stay. Just across the street from Danforth Middle School, rated the worst middle school in NY State, his large, brown mid-19th century house had a combination of Greek revival and Italianate elements with gorgeous woodworking throughout the inside. The wrap-around porch served as his nighttime post, a one-man Guardian Angel; a vigilante who enjoyed a scrap. He’d put his wife and sons to bed, then perch himself on the porch and wait. The second someone would stumble out of the crack house next door, he’d be on them, his old 9 iron swinging like a banshee. Most often the cops would not be called because of the drugs being openly sold next to a school, but because the one stable family man, a restaurateur, had ambushed a crackhead hoping to stumble anonymously back into the cavernous void of night. It was the police that convinced him to move when he was handcuffed in the back of a cruiser.
He wound up three houses down from my parents again. Most that moved beyond the city line, the three bedroom Colonial and Tudor homes were little more than residential mausoleums, an American dream they’d never aspired towards. However, John was always different. To him the suburbs are the bucolic countryside; his postage stamp plot of grass seemed like acre after acre. This space gave him permission that he gladly seized. Three quarters of his quarter acre yard was dedicated to the fire pit, the bonfires frequently nearing the height of our power lines. The Curatola’s would rejoice in turning night to day, a perfume of smoky air would be carried into our windows via a dry wind. The glow reflecting from behind their house would draw me in for an underage beer and a tale of John beating up a teenager he thought was a punk in the food court of the Great Norther Mall.
Each 4th of July the Curatola’s threw a bash to declare their independence from sobriety. Preparation would begin a month beforehand, with the proceeding weekends seeing John’s yellow and white Cadillac tearing down the throughway towards Ohio, a state sovereign enough to allow its adults the pleasure of explosive pyrotechnic devices for entertainment purposes. The arsenal in his trunk would include: Intimidators, mini Magnums, full-sized Magnums, nuclear warheads, sucker punches, a silver chrysanthemum We Salute You, and rapid firing of 750 shots of screaming, whistling, Saturn Missiles. He and his brother Dominic would hit Big Woodie’s Fireworks and be back, unloading the car before Little Johnny had to get to Little League.
Like a little kid on Christmas Eve, John would begin stoking the fire just as the sun broke. Dominic would park his yellow and white Cadillac at the edge of the driveway and open the trunk to allow the sun to beat down inside, the final step in his homemade recipe for trunk wine: a fragrant red, fermenting in plastic 1-gallon milk jugs in the back of his car. The consumption was like a dream – the beer, the soda, the hot dogs and hamburgers, the German potato salad, the trunk wine, no one ever wanted for anything at a party thrown by John. No pool or volleyball, just food on food on food, all while anchored next to an “out of control” volcano of a fire. We were giddy, drunk, and boisterous awaiting freedom to be rung in via blasting roman candles to the moon. The problem with this amount of sheer firepower in a residential neighborhood was that the homes are relatively close together. I distinctly remember just as the fireworks began, Stanly Bosko who’s backyard meet John’s at a barley dribbling creek, opening his backdoor and yelling over that the explosives were coming too close to his home. John told him to get off his back porch, jump the creek, and say something. Just take one step over the property line. Stanly back peddled; John pounced: “Sunday before mass, motherfucker. I’ll find you in the parking lot and kill you right there at church.” We didn’t see Stanly for the rest of the night.
As the smoke dissipated into the blackness of night, only a handful of us remained. John and Dom, Andy Ewanyk, Harold Reynolds, me and New Hampshire Andy – he had moved to town 4 years back, but no one seemed to know his last name – set a goal of finishing the wine. Then we stopped talking. In a glimmer in the receding light coming from the fire, John had been silent, until he proclaimed we should all get tattoos to commemorate the night, to commemorate America. He had been staring at a quarter and said he wanted a majestic bald eagle forever on his arm. Too drunk to drive, there was a suggestion of branding, and Dominic grabbed a spatula off the grill and John set his quarter on a log in the pit. A few shots of whisky later, the quarter was pulled out and placed on John’s forearm, Dom searing it into his skin with the spatula. John passed out from the pain.
On the 5th of July nothing simmers or shines, there are no dancing sparklers illuminating the dusty day. Things break, homes crumble, grills go uncleaned; we adjust, we figure out a quick fix, Stanly goes to a different mass time. America’s birthday has past and another year begins.
The 5th of July Daniel FullerView
Interview with Charles Harlan
Katherine Bernhardt (b. St Louis, MO) lives and works in New York. She earned her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, NY. Selected recent exhibitions include: Venus Over Manhattan, New York, Cidra, Puerto Rico, China Art Objects Galleries, Los Angeles, and CANADA, New York
Lucas Blalock (b. 1978, Asheville, North Carolina, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He earned an MFA from UCLA, attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2011), and has recently had exhibitions at deCordava Sculpture Park and Museum, White Cube, Museum of Modern Art, NY, and Ramiken Crucible.
Robin Cameron (b.1981, British Columbia, Canada) lives and works in New Yor, NY. She graduated with an MFA from Columbia University in 2012 and her books are available at Printed Matter and held in the collection of the MoMA library.
Alex Da Corte (b. 1980, Camden, NJ) lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. He received his BFA from the University of the Arts (2004) and his MFA from Yale University in 2010.
Charles Harlan (b. 1984, Smyrna, GA) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from New York University in 2006 with a concentration in Studio Art.
Tom Holmes (b. Ozona, Texas) lives and works in Liberty, TN. He earned his MFA from the University of California Los Angeles and has recently had exhibitions at Bureau, New York, and Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Chris Wiley (b. 1981, New York, NY) lives and works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He earned his BA from Sarah Lawrence College and graduated with distinction (MFA) in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths College.