By Terri Ciccone
Certainly NOT a traditional gallery setting. When entering The Mighty Tanaka in DUMBO, you’ll encounter a pair of Skewville sneakers in the lounge area with a pot leaf on them strewn above your head. Penises, breasts and vaginas are everywhere! And I mean everywhere. This is actually very appropriate however, because in the same exposed manner, Alex Emmart, the director of the space, left nothing of his thoughts of the art world to the imagination. And I mean nothing.
The striking not-so-private parts are part of the current show at the Gallery called Inside Out, and are created by artist Don Pablo Pedro. Also featured in the show is the artist Cake, who also follows suite in bearing the bones of her artwork. Even though the pieces are striking and provide an electric and exciting energy in the space, plopping down on the soft leather couch in the middle of the gallery is actually encouraged. Alex emanates this exuberant combination of cool and joy that obviously translates into the work shown in the space. He believes that an art space should be fist and foremost an inviting place to connect with art and each other. “My art, I feel is the art of interpretation,” he said. “It’s the ability to display artwork in a way that engages the trifecta. The pieces communicate, the person viewing the art communicates with the work, and the people in the space communicate with each other.”
This appeared to work wonderfully as we sat comfortably and discussed the mission of his gallery and the trends in his collections. Even though the gallery is in DUMBO, Alex is Bushwick resident who is totally inspired by his neighborhood. “Bushwick is the largest pool of artists you can find of completely random cool stuff, so a large percent of artists I work with live in Bushwick, have studios in Bushwick or ties to Bushwick in one way or another. So that’s really been one of my biggest influences with finding artists.”
The Mighty Tanaka Gallery, named after a badass little league baseball player, will have a booth this weekend at The Fountain Art Fair. Be sure to stop by to check out the work that is made by “us” for “us.” Alex spoke about the fact that many galleries are showing outrageous and expensive pieces to sell to high end collectors; something he feels sometimes hinders the experience of the viewer. “What’s most important is that it’s the voice of our generation, and that we are displaying ourselves as individuals who are working with a wide spectrum of art,” Alex said. “I want to switch it up and be fresh I want to ride the crest of what’s happening of the now.”
We went on to discuss the very relatable and approachable pieces he had in his gallery. “I really try hard to kind of remove that glass wall that separates the average person for the gallery experience. There’s been this elitism that goes along with fine art. We’re young people and we’re into cool shit, and just because it doesn’t look like I’m going to be buying art doesn’t mean I don’t want to have this experience.”
There is no doubt that when he sets up his booth at The Fountain Art Fair this weekend, there will be a lot of “completely random cool stuff” that is relatable, fresh and exciting to see. I half expect to see a couch in there as well.