Slowly climbing the stairs at 551 West 21st Street to the Viewing Room on Thursday, I realized I was going to see some impressive art. It wasn’t because I was familiar with the work I was there to see—by artists Wyatt Neumann and Bonnie Rychlak as curated by James Kennedy—but because the stairs I was on were packed. People milled about on each of the floors, taking in everything from a painting of a cross-eyed girl on a cheetah to a performance piece featuring someone “preparing for a dinner party” (Regarding the latter, I may have simply walked through someone’s apartment. They may have actually been having a dinner party).
Finally, I heard the din of a gathered crowd, and knew I had arrived at the first exhibition. It was Neumann’s “Moments Like This Never Last”, and it included a string of photos—only about four inches square—bisecting one wall of the room. The photos were in a perfect line, with no discernable theme apart from muted tones and fuzzy Polaroid-like warmth. Pictures of people in costume with funny faces, toilets, roadside motels, kids at play, motorcycle odometers. Landmarks and laughter, absurdity and beauty: this was seemingly a parade of Americana snaking across the fourth floor of a Chelsea art studio. Nothing seemed linear but their placement on the wall. And of course, the only way to see them was to join the slow-moving, single-file line of admirers. It didn’t allow for a stolen moment with your favorite picture. Traffic would back up.