Near the end of May, we took a (very) belabored subway trip to the Fisher Landau Center for Art in Queens to see the 2009 M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition for Columbia University. According to the literature available as you enter into the former parachute harness factory (past the sheep), the museum is “devoted to the exhibition and study of the contemporary art collection of Emily Fisher Landau,” a collection that is in fact not kidding around, featuring “key works” by such artists as Matthew Barney, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. She would also like you to be aware that she’s no joke as you enter, where on the far wall from the front desk hangs “Portrait of Emily Fisher Landau,” a 1984 acrylic and silkscreen work on canvas by Mr. Warhol.
Notwithstanding a tiny bit of pomp, the space is very large and does house a varied and interesting collection of more contemporary and recent art. And of course, for most of May it was also home to the Columbia 2009 M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition, which spanned the first three floors of the Center:
To start off with a disclaimer: as we arrived they had run out of the “map” indicating which artist had made what, so forgive the lack of specificity from the outset please.
The show, curated by Regine Basha and featuring works from 26 M.F.A. students, surprised me most in the students’ heavy focus on mixed-media installations and huge video works, such as these:
There were also some more bizarre, conceptual works such as the layers upon layers of images on photopaper that had been meticulously carved so that the varied appearance of the underlying layers in the cut-out areas combined in such a way as to evoke geographical relief maps of mountains or something similar. Or this:
But of course a number of the artists presented works in traditional media such as oil on canvas, or worked within those boundaries of frame and canvas in new ways, such as incorporating a sort of air-brush aesthetic/graffiti feel:
Finally, I have to give a big shoutout to my girl Zoe Nelson (whose work I did NOT need the “map” to find), who contributed three large canvases of vibrant color and compositional elegance:
Hopefully we’ll be seeing big things from Zoe and all the others in the future. And here’s some further information on the center in case you ever find yourself in Long Island City (is that possible?) looking for a contemporary art fix:
Fisher Landau Center for Art
38-27 30th Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
Open Thursday-Monday from 12-5 PM