As part of Armory Arts Week, the sixth annual SPRING/BREAK Art Show takes over the 22nd and 23rd floors of 4 Times Square –– formerly home to publishing giant Condé Nast –– from now until March 6. Unlike the other art fairs around town this week, the producers of SPRING/BREAK offer independent curators free space to showcase up-and-comers alongside renowned artists in non-traditional spaces. Don’t let the corporate structure and the chaos of Times Square deter you from seeing this incredible show where over 400 artists –– including one of our favorite tattooers, Tamara Santibañez –– explore the theme “Black Mirror.”
Though remnants of corporate office culture linger over the entire exhibition, it lends itself surprisingly well to an art fair. The walls of the offices make it easier to separate each curator’s vision, and the floor-to-ceiling glass windows let the bright neon lights promoting everything from Pepsi to Walgreens intrude on deeply personal — and political — contemporary works of art. The sheer amount of work on display over these two floors can be overwhelming, but here are a few artists whose work simply took our breath away.
We’ve always loved Tamara Santibañez’s fine lined black and grey tattoos, but her first solo exhibition at SPRING/BREAK, curated by Justin deDemko of the Castor Gallery, invites viewers into her adolescent memories which included cassette tapes, punk records, and classic rock posters, drawn with both care and nostalgia in ballpoint pen. With the exception of Santibañez’s meticulous black renderings, everything else in the exhibition is white — reflecting the monochromatic nature of our memories.
On the flip side, Tiffany Smith’s vivid portraits of women of color were utterly striking. Smith photographs her subjects against vibrant backgrounds with empowering, if unusual, accessories meant to enhance their individual cultural backgrounds.
Other works at SPRING/BREAK were unapologetically political. Kosmo Vinyl, best known for his work with Ian Dury & the Blockheads and The Clash, protests the current President in a series called “Cisco Kid vs Donald Trump,” where he unabashedly appropriates images from Argentine artist Jose Luis Salinas’ 1950s comic strip “Cisco Kid.” Vinyl’s humor and anger are present in each work, and he continues to illustrate and publish his frustrations on Instagram.
Curator Katharine Mulherin’s exhibition was entirely political and anti-Trump, but few were more simple and powerful that David Kramer’s “Old Glory,” where he painted the word “FUCKED” in caps across the American flag.
Our favorite works were a bit dark and quite hilarious. Guy Richards Smit’s paintings of anonymous skulls were also labeled with judgmental titles: “Sweetheart,” “Into Fucked Up Shit,” “Squirter,” “Easily Satisfied,” and more.
By far the most memorable and bizarre display at the exhibition was Ben Sisto’s “Museum of Who Let the Dogs Out Out?” Sisto spent over seven years investigating the origins of the Baha Men’s one-hit wonder from 2000. The story is just bonkers, and his collection of over 200 pieces of memorabilia related to this song is intense. We’ll have an in-depth interview with Sisto on Tattoodo soon, so keep an eye out for that.
SPRING/BREAK Art Show runs from March 1-6 from 11am-6pm daily. Tickets are available here.
Article by Katie Vidan and Rebecca An