Volume 73, Number 34 | December 24 - 30, 2003


Gigantic Art Space
59 Franklin Street
New York, NY 10013
Tues - Sat 11am - 7pm
‘D Troit’ Curated by Trevor Schoonmaker
December 11, 2003 – January 31, 2004

Tribeca art space with a big vision

Lea Rekow, artistic director of Gigantic Art Space on Franklin St. Rekow has traveled around the world photographing and filming people in developing countries. Downtown Express Photo by Elisabeth Robert

By Tanya Alina G. Warren

The brand-new Gigantic Art Space (GAS) is not all that gigantic. But what GAS lacks in square footage, it more than makes up for in concept. This multi-discipline art gallery encompasses film, video, music, and interactive multimedia. GAS founders will focus on the intersection between music, politics, pop and international cultures, according to the gallery’s mission statement

The international culture part was brought aboard by founding director Lea Rekow. A native of Australia, Rekow has spent the last decade living and traveling in over 50 developing countries, shooting film and still photography.

“I will always need to travel,” Rekow says, “but for now I am happy to bring the travel to the gallery.”

From the material she gathered on her many voyages, Rekow has produced a number of ethnographic projects which have been shown internationally. (Some of this fascinating work can be viewed on her website: learekow.com.) She is also the former director of Harmonic Ranch, a new media studio in Tribeca, and director of media programs at the Center for Peace and Human Security.

Brian Devine, the owner and founder of GAS, is as multi-media as his gallery. Devine has a background in film and TV production, and he is a singer-songwriter who has recorded two albums with his band, Spanish Speaking Psychics. A few floors above the art gallery on 59 Franklin Street, is a fully-equipped recording studio, which the gallery plans to use to break new ground at the intersection of art and music.

D Troit is the inaugural exhibit on display until the end of January. It is an examination of the fertile Detroit art scene and the particular blend of influences that have contributed to it. These include the decline of the automobile industry, the race riots of 1967, the “white flight” from the city to the suburbs, and the ensuing urban decay of what was once a model of the modern industrial city.

The show’s curator, Trevor Schoonmaker, first became acquainted with Detroit when he was getting his master’s in Art History from the University of Michigan.

“I spent four years there studying, and I had a lot of opportunity to get to know the city. But it was the friends I made who circulated in the different worlds there — music, art, etc., that really opened my eyes to the beauty of it.”

Schoonmaker says Detroit is the kind of city that you need an introduction to, in order to get a deeper understanding of what can flower out of urban decay.

“Detroit has a sort of hip cachet right now, but it is important to try to see what is really going on there — things like the Heidelberg Project [created by artist Tyree Guyton] that are such an important commentary on urban revival.” He is thrilled to introduce many of these Detroit artists to the New York art community. “When Lea approached me about curating a show, I thought of Detroit right away”

The work of the nine artists and one music journalist contributing to the D Troit exhibition has grown out of their personal experiences in post-industrial Detroit. The exhibit includes work from Tyree Guyton’s famous Heidelberg Project, race riot footage by Susan Cook, photographs of Detroit’s decaying architecture by Doug Coombe, comic illustrations by Mark Dancey, and film footage from Nigerian artist, Andrew Dosunmu (the only artist not from Detroit). Music journalist Mike Rubin provides an extensive historical overview of Detroit area music of the last forty years

The first stated goal on the Gigantic Art Space website is: “To extend the range of art experience.” With GAS’s first exhibit as an example, it would seem they are well on the way.


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