Callicoon Fine Arts and MGM Grand on the cover of the Times Herald-Record’s GO! Magazine: By Sandy Tomcho
Posted: June 26, 2009 - 2:00 AM
If life imitates art, then the title of this exhibit will have everyone smiling.
Callicoon Fine Arts is presenting “All Suffering Soon to End!," the gallery’s summerlong inaugural exhibition. To celebrate, gallery founder Photi Giovanis is hosting on Saturday a Brooklyn-based experimental dance collective, MGM Grand. The group will perform “Dajointe and Tonight," a two-part movement-based performance.
Giovanis grew up in the Bronx and has been coming to Sullivan County — where he has a home with his partner — for the past four years. He opened a gallery here because it’s something he always wanted to do, never having the opportunity in New York City.
"As we got to know people in Callicoon, we found that this space became available and we jumped on it," Giovanis said. “There’s a really happening art scene here. There are all kinds of artists, and it’s really wonderful. It’s almost like a microcosm of the world at large."
This exhibition, which celebrated its grand opening May 15, brings together emerging, local and national artists. He considers the dancers to be a part of the exhibition.
"The way I see the exhibition, it’s a new way of thinking about exhibitions where events and performances are a part of what you see in the gallery," Giovanis said. “It’s way of involving audiences and keeping things bound together under the rubric of the show."
The name of the show comes from a picture of a canvas that appropriates an image from a Jehovah’s Witnesses brochure. Giovanis said the painting is a door opener to the exhibit, and everything else that’s there stands on its own.
"What the artist did is take that image from the Jehovah’s Witnesses brochure and blow it up really big and printed it on a canvas," Giovanis said. “It looks like a painting and on it, it says, ‘All Suffering Soon to End!’ So, really, it’s kind of a message from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but if you look at it closely, there’s all kinds of interesting things going on, and that’s what the artist wants you to pay attention to. Connections between the pieces emerge with imagery and different uses of colors and materials. That’s what binds the show together."
Dancers Felicia Ballos, Biba Bell and Jmy Leary make up MGM Grand (Modern Garage Movement). The ideas for their dances gestated in a one-car garage in 2005, which inspired them to perform in nontraditional spaces.
"We’re just about being able to dance anywhere, all the time," Leary said. “We all wanted to do something that was more exciting, so we’ve been going on tour the last batch of summers, performing in music venues and galleries and homes, anywhere and on any surface."
For “Tonight," they’ll be dancing on a cardboard floor with a grid pattern in multicolored tape, and during “Dajointe," they’ll debut a new movement using J-Sette, a type of dance form that has its origins in African-American cheerleader troupes.
"They’re cheerleaders, but they would be in the stands rather than on the field, and there’s a lot of call-and-response, and there are these intricate patterns that they do," Leary said. “It’s much more about movement.
Giovanis wants this experience to be very welcoming for gallery patrons.
"I want people to come in, look at the work, ask questions, have a conversation, and I also encourage anyone to come in, regardless of what their experiences have been with art in the past," Giovanis said. “It’s really bright and clean and it’s not a distracting space. It really focuses on the art."