Together with Susan Joyce of Los Angeles, Williamsburg’s Mery Lynn McCorkle, a sometime gardener in more fertile environs, conceived of Cross Pollination after a discussion of flora indigenous to each coast. Both artists as well as writers, they faced off about east versus west coast art. Here at Williamsburg’s Holland Tunnel, the now famous tiny garden shed gallery of Paulien Lethen’s, we see the fruits of months of labor in development of the concept of juxtaposing the two visions. In a horticultural display of 100 sculptures, each artist’s bud-like contribution is a spectacular specimen as well as a mini and site-specific element of this collaboration.
Typical of early spring Holland Tunnel openings, the afternoon was damp and chilly. The spirit of St. Patrick brought hordes to the South Williamsburg location we can no longer call an outpost. The gallery itself began as a cross-pollination of Dutch and Brooklyn art. Lethen, a European immigrant with an artist’s pioneer spirit, undertook this entrepreneurial endeavor on or near the soil of Brooklyn’s original Dutch settlers. The concurrence of Lethen’s three year breeding of Dutch-American culture, the rainy gray Amsterdam day a few days prior to spring’s official emergence, and the opening of Joyce and McCorkle’s Cross Pollination exhibit made even the discomfort of milling in the slow moving line for a view, seem auspicious.
In this spectacular experiment we are asked to compare the lush California art, typified by Lynn Aldrich’s garden hose sprout, with the likes of Norma Markley’s decorated takeout box constructed with the highest product design technique which McCorkle deems “so New York.” The flowers/sculptures sit on greenhouse benches around the insides of the shed/gallery. There is surprisingly ample space thanks to McCorkle’s installation acumen and enforcement of crowd control. The lighting as well falls equally and amply on each piece in this comfortable departure from normal eye level viewing. The experience convinces on several levels—not least of which is its evocation of spring and its display of the power in large numbers.
The Holland Tunnel, March 17 – April 15