Con Artist crew, a new Art Collective based in Grand Rapids, showcased their new space in the Godfrey Building last Saturday 31st of March with “We own the night.”
Upon our arrival we were greeted by a tall woman, earnestly ethereal and stern, who took our tickets and counted us accordingly and very very seriously. We were then permitted, morosely, to enter the fray. A fray akin to that of a saturated and trendy bar- except very brightly lit. The music was the main feature here, essentially I felt like I had walked into a party to celebrate a sweet gigantic hang out spot, thinly veiled as some sort of gallery event. The work appeared to have been hung with haste and arrogance; its intent baffling and annoying. Nothing save for Reuben Garcia’s trademark skull graphic managed to impose itself effectively in the vast white space.
I have to admit that I was only in attendance for around twenty minutes, and this is not enough time to thoroughly evaluate what was on display. It was not the content of the work that was disappointing to me, but the apparent disregard for the viewer. The wonky hanging was awkward, the fluorescent highlighter pen signatures scrawled underneath only some of the works seemed to suggest the owners or curators of these images had little to no respect for the work or audience- and this made it very difficult for me to care. In fact, no one seemed to care about the work, the room was filled with introverted clusters of revelers- the beats and the socializing claiming absolute prevalence.
I realized upon waking up the following morning that “We own the night” was basically a fetus, still evolving and growing. The space had clearly taken a lot of effort to pull together and probably took up the majority of the gestation period- it definitely wasn’t ready to be born. Those guys needed another week to hang the work.
The buzz created around the event was admirable, the tickets were an unusual- if not slightly too exclusive- touch. It’s always great to see something marketed as an art-related event being well attended in Grand Rapids, even if every single attendee seemed to be a part of a chain of friends and best friends, limiting much objective conversation or engagement.
I have every hope for the “Con Artist Crew,” with their location, marketing skills, fan base and reliable output they could make something admirable out of their huge gallery space. They obviously have the energy and intent required to create a new cultural destination in the city.
Currently, a very thin line is being trodden- between a nauseatingly predictable trend fest and a sincere artistic intent.