“Surviving Sandy” VIP Opening Brings New York’s Art World to Sunset Park Warehouse

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It’s been nearly one year since Hurricane Superstorm Sandy hit New York City, laying waste to countless art spaces and artists’ studios in low-lying and waterfront areas, to say nothing of the homes and lives destroyed throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. But the sense of community and mutual support left in the storm’s wake has been incredibly inspiring, a mood captured and amplified by “Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year 1,” a sprawling exhibition curated by Brooklyn Rail founder Phong Bui at Industry City in Sunset Park, for which a VIP opening was held last night.

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Visitors arriving at the enormous warehouse on 36th Street were greeted by some gargantuan works right upon entry to the galleries, including Dustin Yellin‘s 12-ton triptych collage-on-glass sculpture “After the Flood” (above) — for which engineers had to be brought in to test the industrial building’s floor to make sure it wouldn’t collapse — and an installation of inflatable “union rat” sculptures and a musical pizza metropolis by the irreverent Bruce High Quality Foundation collective (below).

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In the courtyard, visitors milled about amid more massive sculptures by Joel Shapiro, Mark di Suvero, and Mel Kendrick, as well as some more human-scaled pieces by Lee Tribe, under crisscrossing strings of lights.

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While upstairs on the building’s third and sixth floors, the bulk of the show’s works filled a series of long and vast galleries. Though the ground-floor areas became packed with people over the course of the evening, the upstairs aisles remained roomy, a testament to the utter enormity of the building. The art, likewise, never comes across as cluttered, with pieces hung pleasantly and a few large-scale installations given requisite room to breathe.

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Among the notable artists and figures on hand for Thursday’s VIP opening were Chuck Close, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Wendy White, Josiah McElheny, Rico Gatson, Loren Munk — though he was in James Kalm mode, camera in hand — Art in America’s Lindsay Pollock, dealer Kristen Dodge, and countless more. No doubt the crowds will be even larger for Sunday’s general opening.

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Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year 1” opens to the public on October 20 and continues through December 15 at Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photos by the author.)