Thursday, February 24, 2011

Announcing! Duke Riley/ Two Riparian Tales of Undoing/ Opening Reception Friday, February 25th, 6-10pm

Dear Friends,
This show, put simply, constitutes the fruits of a solid year and half of my labor. For those of you who have wondered what exactly that labor entails, now is your chance to understand. Sometimes by rail, sometimes by helicopter, sometimes by beat up pick up truck, and sometimes, just in front of a laptop, I work with Duke Riley to execute projects. Come celebrate the opening on Friday night, or swing by before it closes on April 9th. Duke's announcement below.

Two Riparian Tales of Undoing
Magnan Metz Gallery
521 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001
On View: Saturday, February 26 -- April 9, 2011
Opening Reception: Friday, February 25th, 6--9pm
7:30pm: Performance by Lara Allen

Please join me at the opening of my next show, Two Riparian Tales of Undoing, at Magnan Metz on Friday, February 25th from 6-10pm. For this show, I divided the gallery space into two projects that I completed in the past year outside of New York City. Both projects deal with stories of riverfront communities that were destroyed, and address how these events relate to the current global political and economic climate. I've included a broader description of each project below.

Reclaiming the Lost Kingdom of Laird

Petty’s Island is a tiny island situated in the middle of the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Camden. In 1850, Ralston Laird immigrated from Donegal to Philadelphia. Shortly after his arrival, he set off for Petty’s Island, where he married, had ten children, and declared himself King. The generous king helped several struggling immigrant families to also establish themselves on the island. Over fifty years later, the island was eyed for industrial development. The elderly King was the last to remain when a mysterious fire finally drove him from Petty’s Island.

Today, the island is a fuel storage facility owned by the Venezuelan oil company
In April of 2009, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez offered to donate the island to the state of New Jersey for wildlife conservation. Details regarding the toxic waste cleanup are still being resolved between the two governments and the island remains off-limits to the public.

Using the historical society and the Internet, I tracked down and contacted all of the surviving descendants of the king, reestablished their royal status and minted a set of commemorative plates bearing their royal images. Artifacts from the site of the king’s former palace were also uncovered over the course of several unauthorized visits I made to the island.

Coincidentally, a group who identify themselves as the LKLA also permeated the island and painted a large-scale monument to Ralston Laird—the rightful King of Petty’s Island—atop one of CITGO’s remaining gas storage drums. It can only be viewed from satellite or aircraft, and from that vantage point, interestingly, bears a striking similarity to the Laird Family Royal commemorative plates.

I decided it only fair that Chavez be alerted that this once mighty kingdom is re-staking a claim on his land…

An Invitation to Lubberland

Buried beneath the city of Cleveland is a prehistoric river known as Kingsbury Run. Before it was rerouted underground, itinerant workers made their home along its banks. During the depression of the 1890s, a “tramp census” conducted by John McCook indicated 6% of the population of the United States were itinerant. At that time Cleveland was regarded as a “hobo’s paradise” because of the gracious handouts itinerants would receive, and lenient treatment by the city’s police.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s the itinerant population swelled to 30%, and the Kingsbury Run grew into a sprawling shantytown. However, a series of gruesome murders occurred along the Run, targeting the hobos. As a band-aid solution to stop the serial killings, the police department arrested and displaced the population, burning the neighborhood to the ground.

Today, itinerant cultures both nationally and globally are being marginalized to the brink of extinction. The hobo census, a once a respected barometer for the American economy, is now obsolete.

Motivated by our current economic climate, I traveled the country by freight train, attempting to re-conduct McCook’s census, ultimately returning to Cleveland. By infiltrating the sewer system, I regained access to the forgotten Kingsbury Run. In search of the lost “hobo’s paradise” I followed the Run, beneath the streets of Cleveland, to its headwater.

For more information please contact the gallery at 212-244-2344 or
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11am-6pm.

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