This week’s format of hosting guest speakers was a bit different than our previous interviews. Rather than having the industry professionals and students remain at home, Katie Bell went into NYC to meet the directors of the Brownstone Gallery and Bureau Gallery and offer us a digital tour of their respective galleries.

Our first stop was the Brownstone Gallery where we met with director Jae Cho. While we interviewed Cho and learned about his emerging career, I was particularly interested in the Brownstone Gallery’s current exhibition Have a seat and let me tell you by Ariel Orozco. 

What immediately drew my attention to Orozco’s work was his ability to take mundane, everyday objects and recontextualize them with different materials. In doing so, his exhibition forced me to take a closer look at what I would typically bypass and take a more active approach to things that are every day. 

I saw this physically translated through Orozco’s use of ready-made objects, such as a street lamp and tail light.  However, I tend to associate these ready-made objects with mobility and transportation. Cho explains that Orozco’s exhibition and this conceptual dichotomy were a direct response to quarantine and COVID-19. 

On our way to meet Weston Lowe, the associate director of the Bureau Gallery, Katie Bell was explaining the different types of buildings galleries can reside in. Whether it be an industrial or more apartment-style building, many of the galleries we passed (including the Bureau Gallery) almost looked closed, as there was an obscured and private facade on each structure. As a result, these spaces felt very exclusive and, despite being open to the general public, only accessible to an elite few (which I am not a part of). 

After looking at these exteriors, my likeness for Have a seat and let me tell you only grew. While the galleries we passed felt unwelcoming and disconnected from the audiences they were trying to reach, I felt that Orozco’s exhibit truly resonated with me and created a space that I could actively engage and connect with. 

Having been in quarantine for the past six months, Orozco’s exhibit transported me back to a time where highway driving was a daily occurrence and, like the two street lights, my conversations and interactions with others primarily took place in a physical space. However, the ready-made mediums that Orozco employed brought me back to reality and were a reminder that the truck lights were only artificial replicas. Regardless, I felt drawn by Orozco’s static, yet dynamic, work that transformed my mundane perception of trucks and highways into something new. 

Overall, I felt that Have a seat and let me tell you by Ariel Orozco fostered a newfound appreciation for conceptual art. I think what added to my positive experience was my interaction with Jae Cho. As press releases and postcards can only provide so much information, Cho’s insight on the exhibit further contextualized my gallery experience and shed new light on the way I perceive and understand conceptual art in the wake of the pandemic.