Just down the block from Artlog’s Shake Shack-fueled, Misshapes-dj’ed, pre-Miami party at the Chelsea Art Museum, a brand new gallery was celebrating its inaugural group exhibition. Indica on 11th, owned by Alex Mallick Williams (art lover, daughter-in-law of Robin Williams), opened on Thursday night in a long, narrow space facing the highway. For some, the name, Indica, might refer to the ’60s London art gallery where, famously, John Lennon met Yoko Ono, while for others, the word may bring to mind that popular strain of marijuana (a shorter-bodied plant that tends to produce a heavier, body high commonly referred to as “couchlock”). As Mallick explains, her gallery “aims to maintain a spirit of fun and take cues from counter culture, showing a mix of both established, emerging and street artists.”
Perhaps in a nod to its London predecessor (the galleries are connected only in name, not ownership), Indica on 11th’s first show featured almost all British artists in an exhibition curated by Wendy Asher, a longtime art collector based in Los Angeles and family friend of Mallick. Asher named Indica’s first show, “Dirty Little Secret,” not for a closeted pot-smoking habit, but for the art collection that she was forced to keep hidden from her husband, music producer, Peter Asher, for many years. Among the secretly purchased pieces were early works by Warhol, Ruscha, and Kruger, now part of an impressive personal collection.
For her curatorial debut, Asher selected five artists, filling the entire front room with large paintings by Tobias Keene, an LA-based, British-born artist. Keene’s paintings, like his large “Winged Victory,” often incorporate antique elements to conjure the spirit of another time, a loss of innocence. His large-scale image of Nike is rendered in black and white, with strokes of red and gold over-painting, turning the piece into massive relic. Not only is the roughly painted gold seemingly chipping off, but Keene has also rubbed sand onto the spot where the sculpture’s foot would have been, adding a subtle textural impression of that long-lost, phantom foot and giving his flattened Nike a hint of 3-D life.
One room back, Laura Keeble’s playful little sculpture, “Money Makes the Merry-Go-Round,” is based on a piece she illegally installed outside of the Bank of England in London last year. A commentary on the ups and downs of the world economy, Keeble’s horses are made from international bank notes as well as tears from The Financial Times. The moving miniature version displayed at Indica on 11th, circles around and around. “This is one ride,” says the hot pink haired artist, “that you just aren’t able to get off of.”
It’s clear from their real estate in the show, that Asher (also sporting some hot pink streaks in her hair) responds to Keeble and Keene, but she hasn’t forgotten about the younger sect. Nicholas Bowers, an artist who works with Shepard Fairey in California, has a full wall of pieces in his first-ever gallery show. Asher, who points to Bowers as a new talent to watch, has fostered the careers of several emerging artists, including early collecting of Fairey, Banksy and others. Mallick, who’s first exhibition is on view until December 22nd, won’t reveal much about her upcoming program, but mentions a possible future project with an unnamed graffiti artist, perhaps following in Asher’s footsteps as a patron of street art.
“Dirty Little Secret” at Indica on 11th, 150 11th Avenue, New York, NY. Through December 22.
All images by Annie Powers