Is Art Since the Summer of ’69 an alternative space, a series of itinerant exhibition projects, or a commercial gallery? Its organizers, curator Hanne Mugaas, artist Paul-Aymar Mourgue d’Algue, and Salon 94 director Fabienne Stephan, don't let classification guide their program. Art Since the Summer of ‘69 is first and foremost a curatorial project by the three organizers, dedicating to showcasing emerging art, newly located in a six-by-sixteen-foot sliver of a room in a Lower East Side office building. Often guarded by Mourgue d’Algue’s and Stephan's tiny daschund, Ludwig von Truffle, the space bears an inextricable link to dogs: not only is their next show titled “The Bichon Frisé in Art,” (a small curly lap dog) but after two exhibitions the gallery has mounted, they’ve had two mentions in the New York Times, both of which were paired with images of canines.
Jack Pierson, One for My Baby, 2009. Courtesy the artist and Salon94. Features Ludwig Von Truffle.
Beforemoving into their current location, Art Since the Summer of '69 mounted shows at the Swiss Insitute's 2008 Dark Fair and the Los Angeles boutique Ooga Booga, not to mention an abandoned make-up room on Broadway in TriBeCa, New York City. Each presentation contained work by multiple artists, oftentimes responding to overarching subject matter as the "secondary market." The title of their December 2008 show at Ooga Booga, Secondary Market, exhibited art found exclusively on eBay, for sale at the boutique until each work was purchased. The solo efforts of the trio's members—who maintain professional relationships to the commercial art world—account for many more ventures in redefining the spatial and temporal boundaries of exhibition-making, including one by Mourgue d'Algue, who launched a show on a farm in his home town of Geneva, Switzerland.
Stephan, Mourgue d'Algue, and Mugaas' next joint initiative is a show consisting solely of art historical depictions of the Bichon Frisé—the aforementioned curly, white lap dog. The exhibition, to open September 20th, is curated by Edward J. Shephard Jr., Head of Collection Development & Management at Binghampton University's library. While he doesn't work professionally in the art world, Shephard loves Bichons, and has spent hours culling images of small white dogs from art history texts. In 1996, Shephard began an ongoing online exhibition of scanned images spanning the course of 2,000 years focused specifically on the breed. Stumbling upon Shephard's net-based show, Mugaas shared it with and eventually approached Shephard with possibility of translating his Bichon Frisé project into a real-space exhibition. Though the presentation will largely consist of Shephard's found images, Art Since the Summer of '69 also invited seven artists to make Bichon-themed work. Among those invited is Marcel Dionne, an "international man of mystery," and the gallery's only in-house artist.
A project about dogs might seem frivolous, or at least a frivolous attempt at kitsch. But the theme of both the show holds to the space itself—allowing the purviews of both "high" and "low" art to mutually influence each other, particularly through the non-specialized appreciation of art. Viewers can learn from the countless hours Shepard dedicated to his dog search as a form of unusual sincerity—a non-careerist mode of working with art, and collecting. Stephan says of looking back at art history through Shepard's lens, "It shows you more. There's so much art that's extremely cynical, and we want to be completely void of that if possible." It's a line of curatorial thinking that comes from the Latin "cura," such that to "curate" means "to care for."
The Bichon Frisé in Art opens Sunday, September 20. Art Since the Summer of '69 is located at 195 Chrystie St #303. Dogs are "more than welcome."