“I started thinking about artists who had bold, almost caustic palettes,” Nelson says.
He wanted honest work by people for whom creativity is a must-do, who produce what their singular vision guides them to, not what can be readily sold. He wanted diverse materials and approaches, as well as a dystopian feel (a society characterized by human misery).
We’re living, he holds, in a dystopian reality beset by pollution, waste, poverty, violence, and crumbling architecture. “And these are what we as artists are reflecting back to the public, not so much an imagined dystopia, but the actual dystopia that surrounds us.”
A Facebook page was the forum for him and others to discuss the show. “From there it was text, phone calls, and social media with everybody, trying to build thematic continuity.”
Crowdfunding raised $1,600 to pay for postcards, a catalog (both nicely designed by volunteers), and travel to New York City to obtain pieces for the show. The Arts Commission lent its two-sided exhibit walls which created 3,000 square feet of display space.
The venue itself is dystopian, given the huge role automobiles once played in Toledo’s economy. Dean & Sons Automotive is owned by Jim Kookoothe, who works with Nelson at the Toledo Museum of Art: Nelson’s an art handler, Kookoothe’s in maintenance. Once a showroom for shiny steel vehicles, the space was big, dirty, and packed with old cars and tools.
Stuff by the ton was moved, floors cleaned, walls painted. Two small viewing rooms for videos were built.
Nelson described the art as beautiful and disturbing, and includes sculpture, installation, painting, photography, drawing, and performance.
“I always want to see what I can do. I started asking questions: Can we do this?”
Participants included Natalie Lanese, Yusuf Lateef, Anna Friemoth, Timothy Gaewsky, Mary Gaynier, Jerry Gray, and more.
New American color was open by appointment by appointment only, and closed with a reception on November 21 from 9 p.m. to midnight at 1611 Jefferson Ave.
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