“It’s gonna take a lotta love” is a group exhibition that explores ideas about inclusivity, authenticity, and commonality in an age of anxiety, isolated individualism, and virtually lived experience. The show is on view from March 7 – May 24, 2015, and is curated by Liza Statton and Terri C Smith.

The exhibiting artists avoid the detachment and slick seduction of the screen-based technologies that characterize our attention economy. Yet, rather than critiquing the sensationalist strategies embedded in the ever-expanding social media and advertising industries, they pursue modes of art-making that focus on the aesthetic and conceptual potential of society’s offcuts.

These artists also share a type of tragic-comic vision of contemporary culture. Humor, joy, and melancholy, among others, mix easily in their work. Yet, such emotional credibility creates a kind of slippage between empathy and alienation.

Wayne White, “See Do,” 2013, paint on offset lithograph, courtesy of Western Projects

Some artists create this slippage by making and re-making objects using seemingly inconsequential materials. Wayne White paints witty and sometimes biting phrases on found thrift store lithographs of scenes such as pastoral landscapes or rustic barns. Andy Coolquitt resituates familiar materials such as vinyl records, lightbulbs, synthetic shag fabric, and books-on-tape into installations that are inspired by functions and spaces outside of the gallery. His works articulate a tension between the familiarity of our real lives and the exclusive domain of the white cube gallery. Whiting Tennis creates drawings, paintings and sculptures that pit Modernist art’s fascination with pure form against an intentionally personal mode of a hobbiest aesthetic that wrestles with ideas of concealment and containment.

A.L. Steiner + Robbinschilds, C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience), Part 1, 2007, Courtesy of Video Data Bank

Other artists such as Jon Campbell, Stephen Vitiello, and Jeremy Deller create subtle interventions using everyday language and music. Deller’s poster “Attention all DJs” takes on the form of a handwritten sign with tongue-in-cheek instructions for DJs. Jon Campbell’s “four letter word flags” brightly declare words like “Yeah,” “Home,” and “Want.” By inserting his word flags between country, state, or corporate flags in a city, Campbell prompts passerby’s to ask if the words we all use are worthy of a public format usually saved for pagentry or branding.  Stephen Vitiello’s sound works in “It’s gonna take a lotta love” appropriate commercial music from well known singers. With “Dolly Ascending” Vitiello slows down Dolly Parton singing “Stairway to Heaven” to the point where it sounds like choral music. In A.L. Steiner + Robbinschild’s “C.L.U.E. Part I” video two women perform dance infused movements in backdrops of natural and built environments, connecting color, action, attitude, and environment in a straightforward way that includes the audience in their choreographed antics.

Two of the exhibiting artists, Andy Coolquitt and Jon Campbell, have been commissioned to make new works for “It’s gonna take a lotta love.” In the gallery, Coolquitt, whose assemblages reconsider the materials we unconsciously engage with, will be creating a new mixed media installation entitled oo oo. Australian artist Jon Campbell has been commissioned to make new works for the exhibition. His gallery contributions include a “four letter word” mural and a set list painting, which is based on a Melbourne band’s 1984 performance. Campbell extends his painting practice into the public sphere with an ambitious installation in Downtown Stamford, his first in the United States. Campbell, who is interested in representing “the overlooked and undervalued,” will design and exhibit flags and banners with the words: Hold, Home, Look, Play, Want, and Yeah. The works will be mounted on existing flagpoles in public parks, at office buildings, and on construction fences throughout Downtown.

Yeah Flag, 2009, Sydney/Courtesy of the artist and Darren Knight, Sydne

Artists include: Jon Campbell (Melbourne), Andy Coolquitt (Austin/NYC), Jeremy Deller (London), Stephen Vitiello (Richmond, VA), Jessica Mein (NYC), A.L. Steiner + Robbinschilds (NYC), Whiting Tennis (Seattle), and Wayne White (LA).

This exhibition is sponsored in part by:
Jon Campbell’s participation has been assisted by:

Acting on Dreams: The state of immigrant rights, conditions, and advocacy in the U.S.

“Acting on Dreams: The state of immigrant rights, conditions, and advocacy in the U.S.” is an original group exhibition curated by Yaelle S. Amir for Franklin Street Works. It will be on view from June 13 – August 23, 2015. Opening reception is Saturday, June 13 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. With a VIP members preview from 5:00 – 6:00 pm.

Immigrants now comprise approximately 13 percent of the total U.S. population (41 million), of which over a fourth are undocumented (11.5 million) and close to a fifth live in poverty. Many in the U.S. have called for an overhaul of our immigration system, seeing it as a necessary and crucial step in the development of a more humane and just American society. Yet some of the main roadblocks to immigration reform are manifest not in the upper echelons of our political structure but rather in the everyday person who is unable or unwilling to recognize the great contributions immigrants bring to our culture.  Many fail to acknowledge immigrant hardships or to empathize with their conditions, prompting forward thinking individuals, such as community activists and artists like those in “Acting on Dreams,” to rise to the task of filling the enormous gaps in immigration services and knowledge.

With a recent surge in border crossings on the one hand, and stalled legislation in Congress and increased deportations on the other—the work of community and grassroots groups to raise awareness and ease immigrant living conditions has become more essential. The works included in this exhibition chronicle the efforts of advocacy groups and draw connections between various communities and concerns within this complex issue. The artists apply their creative skills to further compassionate and respectful policies, and strive to communicate the immigrant experience in the U.S.—the frequent sense of isolation, obscurity and uncertainty, but also courageousness and anticipation. Rather than wait for politicians to end the  practices of mass detention and deportation, these initiatives prompt each of us to envision a new system that acknowledges and serves migrants and communities.

Exhibiting artists: Andrea Bowers, Chitra Ganesh and Mariam Ghani, Ghana Think Tank, Marisa Jahn (Studio -REV), Jenny Polak, QUEEROCRACY in collaboration with Carlos Motta, and Favianna Rodriguez/CultureStrike.

Review of our last exhibition “About Like So: The Influence of Painting”

Click HERE to read review at

So It Goes: A Survey of Painting’s Influence on Other Media

About Like So: The Influence of Painting at Franklin Street Works

November 22, 2014 to February 22, 2015
41 Franklin Street (between Broad and North streets)
Stamford, CT, 203 253 0404

Installation view, "About Like So," 2014-15, at Franklin Street Works, Stamford, CT. Photograph by Chad Kleitsch, courtesy of Franklin Street Works.

“About Like So: The Influence of Painting,” recently on view at Franklin Street Works in Stamford, Connecticut, was a cogent group show on the effect of painting — its “histories, forms, materials, and other qualities” as the curator, Terri C. Smith, concisely puts it — on contemporary art and its conceptual grounds. An expansive exhibition, it succeeded in showing a wide spectrum of ways in which painting has goaded contemporary practice, extremely effectively. All of the ways painting can rear its head in contemporary art making, in media other than what we traditionally know as painting, were on view, which was quite a feat in the three-room space.

Franklin Street Works opened in the center of Stamford in September 2011 in one building of a row of brick townhouses constructed in the late 1800s. The community has evidently embraced the on- and off-site arts programming, experimental music nights, site-specific performance art projects and community gatherings offered by the space, which includes an adjoining cafe. Smith, creative director since its inception, wrote an informative gallery handout to accompany the gathering of works. This noted that the catalyzing question for the exhibition was, “In an era where painting no longer has the art historical primacy it once did, what can it contribute to the dominant art practices of today — art that is often not medium specific and is rooted in the theory driven practices of conceptual art?” The exhibition revealed that painting still has plenty to add to current art-world conversations, in ways apparent and less so.

Sonderborg, Wolfgang Hannen, Günter Christmann and Paul Lovens, In actu - Music & Painting, 1993. Video, TRT: 32:55, Dimensions variable. A production of the Institute for Music and Acoustics of the Center for Art and Media, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany. Courtesy of the artists.

Sonderborg, Wolfgang Hannen, Günter Christmann and Paul Lovens, In actu – Music & Painting, 1993. Video, TRT: 32:55, Dimensions variable. A production of the Institute for Music and Acoustics of the Center for Art and Media, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany. Courtesy of the artists.

Some of the connections came easily. A collaborative 1993 performance by K.R.H. Sonderborg, Wolfgang Hannen, Günter, Christmann and Paul Lovens, presented as a video, was the earliest example shown of painting seeping into other media. It’s a good backdrop from which to consider the show at large. Action painting is performed along side experimental music as the two dip in and out of sync. In moments it appears as though each medium has nothing to do with the other, before painting either falls into a type of symmetry with the sound or appears to lead it.

Leslie Wayne’s series, Paint/Rag (2012 and 2014), where the surface of a glossy, seemingly still-wet painting has been peeled from its flat surface and draped over a hook like a damp towel, was sensorially enticing. It was almost like the artist had taken a novel approach to hanging them up to dry; I so badly wanted to touch what I knew was a sturdy sculptural piece that was imploring me to explore its folds.

Ragnheiour Gestsdottir, As If We Existed, 2010. Video with sound, TRT: 30 minutes,  dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artists.

Ragnheiour Gestsdottir, As If We Existed, 2010. Video with sound, TRT: 30 minutes, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artists.

Ragnheiður Gestsdóttir’s As If We Existed (2010) mused on the theme of the pained, but enigmatic artist stereotype. Featuring performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson as the troubled, wordless painter, repeating tasks from day to day against the setting of Venice’s glinting canals, it was food for thought on the “baggage” of painting — what histories and assumptions follow the medium and those who use it.

Taylor Davis’s 2012 sculpture, TBOX No. 1, made new the tradition of trompe l’oeil. The artist’s birch plywood box construction is plastered with blue painters’ tape arrows, that, on very close inspection only just betray themselves as a illusion. They are, of course, not tape but a painted replication of it.

Taylor Davis, TBOX No. 1, 2012. Oil paint, birch plywood, 14 x 16.5 x 16.5 inches. Photograph by Chad Kleitsch. Courtesy of a private collection.

Taylor Davis, TBOX No. 1, 2012. Oil paint, birch plywood, 14 x 16.5 x 16.5 inches. Photograph by Chad Kleitsch. Courtesy of a private collection.

In a show where conceptual links were being made in so many different ways, the handout was important for understanding some of the conversations between painting and ideas in individual works, and served as a type of wall-text document to facilitate the making of intellectual connections. Occasionally more information was needed. The challenge was that in many of the pieces, painting, as a concept, was not necessarily the primary theme at play.

The multiple conversations in Tameka Norris’s video projection, Purple Painting (2011), which snatched the viewer’s first glance on entering the space, were hard to access with so much happening around it, and the work could have benefitted from greater explication. Similarly, some works that appeared to have a simple relationship to painting, like Paul Branca’s Untitled, for Rodchenko(2013), where monochrome paintings in bright red, yellow, and blue are made on canvas tote bags, could have been helped by more explanation on how this fits into Branca’s practice (the tote bags are a recurring theme), and what concepts outside of painting he deals with in this work and in his practice at large. In both cases, the connection to painting was clear but the works perhaps suffered by not being able to tell any other stories.

The amount of work that came together in three rooms, with 20 artists and 34 works, was impressive. “About Like So” showed the pervasiveness of painting in a whole horde of ways. The beauty in the show was its freedom. You didn’t have to love every work there, and indeed it would be rare with such a diverse grouping. But in each the argument for the conceptual link between the piece and this storied medium was undeniable, and overall the show made some important connections between the art-historical canon and current conventions and functions of art that any contemporary art viewer will benefit from having in mind.

Opportunities: Internships

If you are interested in an internship at Franklin Street Works, please email Terri C Smith at Curatorial, marketing,and development internships are available on an ongoing ongoing basis.

We are also looking for a part-time archiving intern to process an international collection of mail art we gathered as part of our last exhibition “It Narratives: The Movement of Objects as Information” for more on that internship, go HERE.

While we wish our budget allowed for paid internships,Franklin Street Works Internships, currently, are only unpaid or for credit.

Franklin Street Works interviewed on WPKN and a feature in the Stamford Advocate!

Franklin Street Works’ Creative Director Terri C Smith talks with Jennifer Bangser from the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County on WPKN. Click HERE to listen!

Also, check out Scott Gargan’s article on The Sunken Living Room HERE.