I happily went to the Lower East Side to visit with Priska Juschka and see her new collaboration / business, Lichtundfire. The opening exhibition is entitled Visceral Velocity or the Emotional Speed of Things and runs from November 4th through December 20th, 2015.
Lichtundfire has all the earmarks of a new business settling in, but not Priska herself. A seasoned art dealer and curator within the primary and secondary market for over twenty years, Juschka has, with a new team, envisioned something different. The exhibition currently on view is a mix of known artists and new works she found compelling and wanted to present. At the preview, there was a steady stream of people and groups coming in and out wishing her well and saying hello ,which adds to the happy impression of a new environment.
I was particularly interested in a new artist she was working with, Jonathan Peyser, who is combining leather strapping with brushed metal, giving the viewer an almost romantic lyrical gesture out of these two very rough materials -- see Soundscape 1 & 2 (above). These two works face a brilliant bullet work by Margaret Evangeline this is one of a few dialogues between different works in this show.
Also, Lichtundfire has on view some breathtaking works by Adja Yunkers. Yunkers is one of these artists who had one foot in modernism and one in the up-and-coming field painters coming around the corner in the Sixties and Seventies -- this was a time period where I feel we were on the verge of stepping into the full-out installations and environments; Yunkers held on to what I believe was an expressionist sensibility throughout his work. John Canada wrote in The New York Times, ''He has been a steady presence confirming the wisdom of taking your time, thinking things out and allowing sensitivities to mature rather than depending on the gush of something passing for inspiration.''
Most artists are presented with more than one example of work showing small combinations of series, leading the exhibition itself into her new projects. "I'm not going to have a stable," said Juschka. Taken aback a bit by this statement, I wanted to hear what she had in mind. I have always been very fond of her programing; therefore, I wanted to hear how she planned to go forward. She sees Lichtundfire as more of an online cultural platform, a business helping artists from all mediums including music and performance as well as visual arts.
For example, Lichtundfire may involve itself with an artist's series helping to promote a limited edition, writing project, a series of performances, or a not-for-profit project within a community or museum, but not represent the artist outright. The organization will be available to help elevate a particular project or venture, moving more within the scope of being a producer and publicist, not a bricks-and-mortar gallery, leaving the old business standard for the way of private offices and the internet -- brave new world.
Still, Lichtundfire has found itself operating within a gallery space at 175 Rivington, a good spot. She finds herself very lucky to have "fallen into the space." A friend offered it to her as a sublease and she saw it as a good opportunity for a pop-up, promoting her new projects; as things stand she does not have to leave, so for the moment Juschka is going to see how it goes.
"I will not be having another gallery in New York, in Kazakhstan, or on the moon for that matter -- my ex-partner was very involved with promoting an artist from that country and has since moved back to Europe, but for some reason people have come to the conclusion, and worse, written that I opened a gallery there -- strange thing is, I never left New York."
A lot has been written about Priska, involving the economic problems connected to the closing of her previous gallery as well as personal opinions from writers who don’t really seem to care what is true or untrue. I find a great deal of it uninformed and cruel. Along with the bricks and mortar, the once interesting and elevated world of art criticism, and mainstream journalism on the whole, seems to have found itself caught in the gossip turbine perpetuated by a content-hungry internet. For some writers, the checks and balance system has flown away, but that is for a different article. In the meantime, I find myself wishing Priska well, and hopeful for her future. - Elizabeth Stevens
Ms. Stevens has been in Art and Antiques for 30 years, from representing her family's auction house in Cincinnati to Import Director at Hedley's New York in the early '90s to Salander O' Reilly Galleries, organizing art fairs and traveling exhibitions for more than 12 years. She is the former director of Yellow Bird Gallery in Newburgh, NY as well as the former Exhibitions Curator for the Thomas Cole House. She is now the owner of Elizabeth Stevens & Co. with offices in New York, New Jersey, and soon Florida.