99 works for 99 cents and up

[Nate visits a brand-new gallery aiming to connect audiences with artwork through practical pieces and low price points. — the Artblog editors]

In modern-day Brooklyn, the rapid influx of young, creative individuals into un-gentrified neighborhoods has led to a rise in small-scale art galleries and studio spaces. While some of these places interact little with the communities in which they reside, other galleries effectively fuse participation with exhibition; enter 99¢ Plus Gallery, a gallery and studio space based in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

The gallery’s inaugural show, entitled 99¢ Plus Art Shop, features 99 works priced between $0.99 and $9.99. The product of nine Bushwick-based curators who each selected 11 artists to donate a work of art, the show’s themes of community engagement and inclusivity become apparent upon setting foot in the tiny gallery space.


A dollar store of artistic discovery

Gil Gentile, “Yeeshee,” publication on USB. Curated by Simran Johnston. $2.99.

A host of individually plastic-wrapped artworks of various media juts out from pale walls and, at first glance, overwhelms the small room. But the crowded feeling soon subsides with an examination of individual works: a process that renders the show’s themes all the more apparent. That art should be affordable and thus available to all who are interested is made obvious by the price range of the works on display at 99¢ Plus. What makes some of the artworks in the show rise above others are the ways in which particular artists engage with the idea of accessibility, leaving space for the public to interact with art however they choose.

Emilie Gossiaux, “Bowl and Fork (Reminant [sic] of Performance),” ceramic and wood. Curated by Tommy Coleman. $9.99.
Take Emilie Gossiaux’s ceramic bowl and wooden spoon entitled “Bowl and Fork (Reminant [sic] of Performance)” or Gil Gentile’s “Yeeshee,” a simple flash drive in the shape of popular Looney Tunes character Marvin the Martian. If this art at first appears frivolous, the notion dissipates when aesthetic scrutiny is flung by the wayside and a viewer grasps the function of these works, focusing on intention rather than appearance.

A novelty flash drive, priced at a mere $2.99, not only carries data the artist intends for the owner of the work to encounter, but offers a fully functional, courteously priced work of art that can be put on display as much as it can be put to practical use. “Bowl and Fork (Reminant of Performance)” takes this further by calling attention to common human activities. In this way, the role of viewers is paramount to aesthetic interpretation.


Pieces of artists’ personalities

Charlotte Patterson, “99 Pieces of Copper (A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned),” copper, evaporated salt water. Curated by Riley Strom. $0.99.

Not all of the works on display at 99¢ Plus are practical; it is difficult to imagine Izabelle New’s “Lachrymatory_(23/23),” which consists of “twenty-three songs for crying” and a “vial of artist’s tears,” as useful outside of the inherently personal context in which it was created. If works like this and Charlotte Patterson’s “99 Pieces of Copper (A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned)” are viewed as relics of the creative process rather than catalysts for participation, the attention-seeking nature of such pieces becomes another point of relatability between artist and spectator.

Izabelle New, “Lachrymatory_(23/23),” twenty-three songs for crying, vial of artist’s tears. Curated by Riley Strom. $9.99.

Overall, 99¢ Plus Art Shop is a modest yet impressive effort on behalf of gallery founders Simran Johnston, Zoe Alexander Fisher, and Riley Strom. The substantial number of locally produced and affordably priced artworks aside, the friendly atmosphere of 99¢ Plus Gallery and overarching desire on behalf of its founders to unify the art world with communities not yet gentrified makes this Bushwick spot well worth the trip.

99¢ Plus Art Shop is on view until May 30 at 99¢ Plus Gallery, 238 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237. Hours: Friday – Sunday, 1 pm – 6 pm.