Lisa Levy, You Are Loved, 2020, mirror and lettering, 10 inch diameter. Image courtesy of the artist.

Love. Do you believe in love? Or are you like me and just trying to piece together a “loving” relationship via platonic snuggling, discounted dinners for helping your friends with errands, and other activities aimed at mutually boosting each other’s self-esteem while a fairytale love story continues to not exist in your life? As yet another contrived holiday approaches, forcing us to deal with the many holes in our frail existence, at least there is the solace of art that reifies our belief that Valentine’s Day is a capitalist trap hoping to ensnare the loved and the loveless with equally dubious methods.

One such example of that solace would be the group show at Friday Studio Gallery curated by Sharilyn Neihardt, who in addition to being a curator is an artist and also a founder of TRANS-CEN-DER, a monthly series of artist talks at Brooklyn Fire Proof. The show brings together a group of artists that reference love in ways that range from nostalgic to bitter. Whether love is the chaotic passion of Dionysus or the rational choice of Apollo to engage in a mutually beneficial relationship, Lost Valentine seems to address all these characterizations of challenging to nail down emotion known as love.

Lisa Levy, Proof of Their Love: Gifts from Men 1987-1996, trinkets on shelves, 5.5 x 7.5 x 2 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Lisa Levy’s Proof of Their Love 1987 -1996 comprises a collection of gifts from men that really shakes the foundations of romantic love.  One must wonder if the yellow toy taxi Skip J gave to Lisa in 1991 was a sincere display of love and nostalgia for a relationship-building cab ride or a cryptic message evoking the chaos and danger inherently involved with New York City taxis. On the more romantic end of things is the wall of drawings by Tim Gowan that he created over a period of months for his wife, depicting snails, dogs, and other creatures real and imaginary that are very much in love with each other.

Artist Tim Gowan in front of his installation, “For Her”, at the opening reception for Lost Valentine at Friday Studio Gallery. Image courtesy of the gallery.
Meer Musa, Paris nights, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Meer Musa’s oil painting Paris nights, part of his series of paintings related to Paris, uses the Eiffel Tower at night to create imagery of a romantic date setting that he and his lover may never make it to. The painted image of an actual human heart at the center of his painting Listening device is in stark contrast to the beauty of the flowers he creates around it. Lila Freeman shows a group of paintings that pair nostalgic romanticism with items that one would find around the house. The artist glorifies these seemingly mundane objects via detailed portraiture with the type of wistfulness that is exemplary of love.

Meer Musa, Listening device, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

While Neihardt does acknowledge the darkness of St. Valentine’s day, she does have an optimistic view of the concept of love: “When a person loves someone, they keep them in mind. They always think the best thing about the person they love, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Love is the glue of our civilization. It keeps us together, gives us common causes, forces us to broaden our interests, inspires fellow feelings.“

Installation view of paintings by Lila Freeman, various sizes, oil on paper. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Friday Studio Gallery is a commission free gallery that is only open on Fridays. It was founded by John A. Holt, who has been a gallerist for many years in many different locations around the city. It is located at 56 Bogart Street across from the Morgan L stop.

Adam Aslan is someone who sees an overabundance of meaning and value in art. As such, he creates art, exhibits art, and delights in writing about things with exceptional artistic significance. Art: @nycpony Curation: @cosmicveggie Gallery: @zxygallery