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June 2009

Lift Trucks Project inaugural exhibition

October 2010

The Unknowing Hand

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Lift Trucks Project, Kara Lenkeit, an independent curator, visited about two dozen artists’ studios and galleries throughout the Hudson River Valley and New York City.

The resulting exhibition fills the 2,500-square-foot converted factory space here with more than 60 works by a wide range of artists — including acrylics on canvas by Scott Daniel Ellison and Mark Nilsson, who live in Dutchess County, and architectural forms made from sections of picket fence by Daddy, a Brooklyn-based design collective.

Scott Goodman, who is a member of Daddy and also has two paintings on plywood in the show, described Ms. Lenkeit as a “process-based curator, much in the way many artists work

— she sees something, loves it, and throws it in the mix.”

While organizing “Cause and Affection,” which opened June 12, Ms. Lenkeit, 23, said she was repeatedly asked about its theme. “But I didn’t want to be finding work that fit into a theme,” she said. “I didn’t want to force myself or limit myself. I just wanted to show what I thought was amazing.”

Yet a theme seems to have evolved. For Ms. Lenkeit, the visceral passion she described as part of her search for artwork was matched by the anxiety she felt about assembling the show. “I started seeing these feelings — passion and anxiety — as the theme,” she said. “They’re what make us human. They’re what make artists artists.”

Several artists in “Cause and Affection” are grappling with similar dualisms, some more manifestly than others. Take Christopher Manning, creator of “Everything as Perfect as It Seems.” Ms. Lenkeit likes how his work — an eight-foot-long iceberglike stack of thick shards of Plexiglas suspended from the ceiling — “catches the colors from other pieces in the show.” Mr. Manning talks of its contrasts. “I like the mix of it being a transparent object that is both there and not there, with these very sharp, dangerous edges,” he said. “We all exist in a state of flux between opposing forces. My work contemplates that balance.”

Mr. Goodman also described contrasting elements in his paintings of houses hiding behind trees. “The natural and domestic worlds are unified on the flattened surface of the image,” he wrote in an e-mail, “however, the ambiguous, obscured figuration suggests a shattered world.”

Of the 13 artists showing in “Cause and Affection” all but two are in their 20s, yet most have an exhibition history, and some have work in concurrent shows. Mr. Manning has several pieces in a group show at Dorsky Curatorial Projects in Long Island City. Mr. Goodman is exhibiting alongside other Brooklyn artists at Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Larchmont; work by the Daddy collective can be seen in a show opening Aug. 18 at Dash Gallery in Tribeca. Mr. Manning, Mr. Nilsson and two other “Cause and Affection” artists, Gil Riley and Milton Stevenson, were part of this summer’s group show at the Beacon Artist Union’s gallery in Beacon, which was also curated by Ms. Lenkeit. And though this is the first exhibition for Frank Lupo, who at 60 is the group’s senior member, one of his drawings was selected by the artist Rackstraw Downes to be included in a second show that opened in Chelsea on Aug. 3.

Most of the work is for sale, with prices ranging from $50 to $2,500, but Lift Trucks is not a gallery in the usual sense. Tom Christopher, a painter and the director of Lift Trucks Project, described the building — the former home of the B. Hawley Smith Company, a forklift service and sales business — as “a project space. “We don’t represent artists, and we don’t have archives,” he said. “My hope is that these kids will take this show and find a real gallery.”

Mr. Christopher, who is in his 50s, appreciates their spirit. “I love talking to these guys,” he said. “They don’t talk about dealers and careers. All they talk about is art.”

“Cause and Affection” runs through Sept. 12 at Lift Trucks Project, 3 East Cross Street, Croton Falls. Open Monday and Tuesday, noon to 3 p.m.; Friday, 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment. For more information:



N selecting the work that                        appears in “Cause and       

Affection,” the current show at

A Curator Goes With Her Gut

“I found myself surrounded by all this room, and realized what a great project space it was,” Mr. Christopher said. “I thought, ‘I want to get some artists in here.’ And now we’ve launched our first show.”

“From a Factory Floor” chronicles important collaborations throughout the career of Gary Lichtenstein, a silk-screen artist and the owner of Gary Lichtenstein Fine Art in Ridgefield, Conn. The exhibition presents work by 14 artists — from painters like Alex Katz, Gary Panter and Karl Benjamin to Jack Micheline, a Beat generation poet, and Michael De Feo, a contemporary street artist — all printed by Mr. Lichtenstein.

Mr. Christopher described Mr. Lichtenstein as “one of the few great printers in the world.” “He’s a master colorist who is able to bring out things in your work that you might not see yourself,” Mr. Christopher said.

Mr. Lichtenstein, 55, began his career in San Francisco as an apprentice to Robert Fried, a rock ’n’ roll poster artist whose prints from the 1960s and 1970s appear in “From a Factory Floor.” “Right away, I got hooked on silk-screen,” said Mr. Lichtenstein, who served as curator of the exhibition, which includes one of his own pieces. He is also preparing a solo show, to open at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 2010.

Mr. Christopher’s print “Midway Float,” derived from a painting of the same name he did in 2006, is part of “From a Factory Floor.” Printing with Mr. Lichtenstein, Mr. Christopher said, goes far beyond simple reproduction.

“Decisions are made,” he said. “There is an evolution. It involves the art of discovery.”

In the show, each artist’s work is presented as a project; items that demonstrate the process of its creation are included. Multiple versions of the final image of some works are displayed, and photographs and objects like screens, squeegees and empty paint cans accompany the pieces.

“I love explaining how silk-screens are made,” Mr. Lichtenstein said. “Sometimes I used three pulls, sometimes I used 35. Some pieces took days to finish, others took months.”

Mr. Christopher plans to present up to four exhibitions a year. The next one is scheduled to open in the fall. Tentatively titled “Draw to Paint,” it will combine pop culture and outsider art, featuring works by artists including Saul Steinberg, Isadore Freleng, known as Friz, and Ed Roth, known as Big Daddy. Mr. Christopher said he was also thinking about exhibiting his private collection of tattoo art, and was considering a poet’s suggestion to hold literary readings in the space.

“Ideas spring forth from other ideas — that’s the whole point,” Mr. Christopher said, emphasizing that the space is not a traditional gallery.

“The focus of a gallery is to represent an artist’s long-term career,” he said. “We’re doing something different. We’re showing artists on a one-time basis. This is a place where they can explore different approaches to presenting their work.”

“From a Factory Floor: Screen Print Collaborations by Master Printmaker Gary Lichtenstein,” through July 12 at Lift Trucks Project, 3 East Cross Street, Croton Falls.

Printmaker Gary Lichtenstein,” the inaugural show at the new Lift Trucks Project, might be hard-pressed to imagine the place filled with 8,000-pound forklifts. Comprising three artists’ studios and a large exhibition space, the Lift Trucks Project occupies the site of the former B. Hawley Smith Company, a forklift service and sales business.

The 5,600-square-foot factory, built in the 1920s, caught the eye of Tom Christopher, an artist who lives in South Salem. Mr. Christopher, whose paintings of New York City have been exhibited internationally, bought the property in 2008, and after a year of renovations moved his studio into the second floor.

westchester home: click for enlarged version

           ISITORS to the exhibition

______“From a Factory Floor: Screen ______Print Collaborations by Master




Lift Trucks Project interview by a Westchester County Cable Station.

Click guy to view video.

Silk Screen Prints Reopen a Heavy-Equipment Factory

Cheryl Lawrence looks at her son's sketch book, Darren Murray, 26, is autistic and non-verbal, but he has an artistic ability that has translated into his work's being featured in two exhibits in New York. Photo by Jon C. Lakey, Salisbury Post.


Darren Murray has autism.So already you have him pigeon-holed.

You might even be right, to a point. Darren doesn’t speak. He likes to follow a routine and can be a bit excitable if something disrupts his daily patterns of activity.

He works at Rowan Vocational Opportunities, where he is a good counter and heat sealer. Darren and other developmentally disabled clients (also called consumers) perform jobs such as simple packaging, small parts assembly, inspecting and sorting.

The RVO talent show was canceled Friday because the nonprofit, United Way agency had landed a new contract. Its 225-member workforce was going to insert 100,000 telephone books into plastic bags and tie them shut.

So now you have a rough idea of 26-year-old Darren’s life and capabilities.

Did it have room for his being an artist, someone who has sold drawings for at least $2,000 each?

Did it assume he was featured in two New York art exhibits?

Did you think he was something of an art savant?

“He’s a quick learner,” says his mother, Cheryl Lawrence, who serves as a technician at RVO and drives to and from Concord daily with Darren.

Tonight, Darren and his family will be attending an exhibit of his drawings at the Lift Trucks Project in Croton Falls, N.Y., titled: “The Unknowing Hand, a Story of Autism and Artistry...”

Wineka column - Autistic Artist

Electric Ink At Ricco Maresca Gallery

by JAMIE MARTINEZ on 09/25/2014 ·

Our final stop for the evening was Body Electric curated by Margot Mifflin at Ricco Maresca Gallery. This show is all about vintage tattoo flash and original art by the most influential and innovative tattoo artists today (according to their website). The gallery was jam-packed and the crowd was edgy with intense energy. We liked this show so much that we stayed here the rest of the night and enjoyed the art on the walls. Bonus art were on people’s bodies as they showed off their tattoos. The work exhibited was mostly on paper and it was presented salon style to give it a tattoo shop display vibe but the only thing missing were the chairs and the ink gun. I must admit, after the show I was craving for new ink.

Body Electric at Ricco Maresca gallery

The show runs from Sept 18 – October 24, 2014 529 west 20th Street 3rd FL. 

Writing by Jamie Martinez 

Photography by Max Noy

Lift Trucks Collection Featured

Skin Trade: The ‘Body Electric’ Showcases Tattoo Art

So, what is the "Tattoo Window of Regret?"

By Christopher Murray | 10/07/14 5:45pm

Installation image for “Body Electric”. (Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery)

Getting your current squeeze’s name needled into your butt when you’ve had a few too margaritas has become a rite of passage for a whole new generation, but it’s also become a well-recognized, even revered, art form, as the variety and quality of the work currently on view at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in Chelsea shows.

Which makes curator and noted tattoo historian Margot Mifflin’s recent decision all the more shocking:  “I talked my 18-year-old daughter out of getting a tattoo this summer,” says Ms. Mifflin, guest curator of the cool and compelling “Body Electric” tattoo art show on West 20th Street in Chelsea through October 25th.

“Of course it’s her choice, but 18-21 is the biggest window for regret for women,” notes Ms Mifflin, “so I encouraged her to wait.”

The show, described as “the next best thing to showcasing

the living canvases that bear their designs,” features vintage

tattoo designs from the last hundred years as well as original

art from contemporary tattooists across the globe, Lucerne to

Los Angeles.“I’ve written about tattoos, among other things,

since the late 1990s, when my feminist history of tattoo art,

Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo,

was published,” says Ms. Mifflin.

Thanks in part to the don of contemporary tattooing, Don Ed Hardy,

and a gazillion knockoff hats, t-shirts, sneakers and purses featuring

his designs, “It’s not even a subculture anymore,” explains Ms.

Mifflin. “It stretches across class and demographic lines now.

 Image Courtesy of Lift Trucks Project        ------

“I tried to show a range of sensibilities through the artists in the show,” she says, “from Jef Palumbo, who does a kind of Photoshop collage style that’s often imitated, to Jacqueline Spoerle in Switzerland, who does intricate, delicate silhouettes of folk scenes, to Chuey Quintanar in L.A., who does Chicano-style fine line tattoos.” Most of these artists’ tattoo work is custom-designed, not a template, she notes.

Why now? In the exhibition’s essay, Ms. Mifflin argues compellingly that “the new auteurs have freed tattooing from the subcultural parameters that both sustained and restricted it for over a century.”

But does she herself have one?

“I’m not tattooed. I’ve always written about tattooing as a

critic/reporter, not an advocate or an insider. If I were to get

tattooed, which is a perennial possibility, I would go straight

to Roxx of Two Spirit Tattoo in San Francisco. I like black and

gray abstract, which is fairly timeless — and she’s a master. “


10/01/14 / Photography by Michael Korol / Author: Natasha Van Duser

How often do you pass someone on the street with tattoos and stop to think Wow, tattoos have come a long way in the last 100 years? Well, if you don’t, now is the time to start.

Margot Mifflin, author of Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo and curator of the first ever tattoo art exhibition at the Ricco Maresca Gallery, Body Electric, is quite aware of the long, enduring history of tattoos.  With this latest project, it was her goal to really showcase the true artistic nature and evolution of the tattoo world as we know it.  Body Electric is designed to display the progression of tattoos in today’s world starting with the late 19th century styles of copying flash to the 21st century custom works of art that clients receive from some of the top tattooists in the industry

Art by Amanda Wachob

Though the exhibition is not focused on displaying tattoos, it works instead to lay out the artistic skills routed in ink as a whole.  Whether it is the development of ‘90s tribal pieces or the tracing of the incredible influences people like Norman Keith Collins, aka the iconic Sailor Jerry, had on the industry, these trailblazing visuals take viewers through decades from flash to stencils, the intricate designs created for tattooists’ clients of today. Work from artists such as black and grey specialist Chuey Quintanar and out of the box color worker Amanda Wachob have given the tattoo industry the opportunity to see the true artistic nature that can be achieved in the art of ink within skin.

Art by Virginia Elwood

No longer is it common to see someone go into a tattoo shop and walk out with an inked image they picked off of a wall.  Today, people go in for unique, commissioned pieces created solely for the individual. Thus making tattoos look more museum worthy than ever and proving that tattoos as true works of art really have come a long way in the last century.

Make sure to stop by and check out Mifflin’s Body Electric at the Ricco Maresca Gallery in New York City before it’s close on October 25th and check out the gallery below for a preview of the exhibition.


        IGHT by the train station in  ______  Croton Falls is an old factory ______  that once serviced forklifts and trucks. Today it houses artists’ studios and an exhibition space — not so much a gallery as a place where artists and independent curators can put up temporary exhibits. It is called Lift Trucks Project.

Not surprisingly, the exhibitions here tend to be somewhat out of the ordinary. That is the way the artist Tom Christopher, who owns the space, wants it. His goal, he said, is not to sell artwork to promote the creators’ careers but to “encourage people to look at art from a fresh perspective.”

The latest project is “ ‘Ek-fre-ses,” a group show of quasi collaborations among some 35 artists and writers.

“Ekphrasis,” as it is written in English, is a verbal representation of a visual work of art that dates to ancient Greece. Each work in the show is paired with a text, sometimes old, sometimes commissioned especially for the exhibition and published in the catalog. Over all, the quality of the writing is extremely good.

Snippets of the text have also been excerpted from the catalog, blown up, printed out on giant sheets of paper and used to frame or wrap or in some way become part of each piece of art on the wall. It doesn’t really work, for the partial text becomes meaningless and more often than not distracts from the art.

Putting aside this quirk of display, the show is filled with interesting if disparate stuff. You will find everything here from an Auguste Rodin watercolor to a print by Robert Motherwell. There are even a pair of LeRoy Neiman sketches from the 1960s, borrowed from Mr. Christopher’s extended family.

But the show mostly contains work by Mr. Christopher’s friends and acquaintances, people he knew as a successful young painter in the East Village in the 1980s and, later, in Long Island City, Queens. Among them are a conceptual artist known only as FA-Q and Doug McQueen, a tattoo artist who also paints and draws.

Because the show has no real theme, it is best approached as a series of individual artist-writer collaborations. Some pairings are more successful than others: For instance, the playwright and art dealer James Balestrieri wrote a poignant prose poem to accompany a 1931 lithograph by Rockwell Kent.

Ben Cheever, the son of the novelist and short story writer John Cheever, and an author in his own right, wrote a short but jaunty text loosely inspired by a Saul Steinberg watercolor, borrowed from a local collector. It recalls his childhood memories of Steinberg’s magazine illustrations and what they meant to him.

Beyond famous names, and solid career painters like Mike Cockrill and A. R. Penck, the show includes some weird underground artists. Among the strangest is Dainty Dotty, a mid-20th-century American circus “fat lady” (she was 585 pounds) who also made gothic, surrealistic watercolors.

Other oddities include cowboy paintings from the 1940s by Fred Darge, an amateur artist, retablos from Mexico, and some lime green gnome sculptures by the German artist Ottmar Hörl. Mr. Hörl’s gnomes inspired the writer James P. Othmer to pen an imaginary conversation between the ghosts of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels about the artist and his work. It is one of the nuttiest things you will ever read.

“ ‘Ek-fre-ses,” Lift Trucks Project, 3 East Cross Street, Croton Falls, through March 27. Information:


Croton Falls

Quirky Marriage of Art and Text