An ‘Art of the 5’ shout-out!

At the center of the “Art of the 5: A Shout Out to the Bronx” exhibit at the galleries of the Interchurch Center is a life cast by Jeanine Alfieri. It’s just one of her five pieces that are alternately composed of wool, oil paint, denim, leather, steel and cotton.
Alfieri’s pieces are scattered throughout the impressive exhibit. One greets you as you enter the gallery, with another near the back entrance of the Interchurch Center in a curvaceous repose, guiding visitors along a wall of art that on one side ends with Xavier Figueroa’s “Inundation.”
Viewers are drawn to Figueroa’s work, a mask crying out amid a crush of paper, wire, mesh and vinyl. Encased behind glass and illuminated by fluorescent lighting, paper portions of the installment seep out or creep, depending on one’s perspective.
Matching Alfieri’s number of pieces are paintings by Daniel Hauben, and some of his depictions of locations in the boroughs will be familiar. His “Urban Undulations” are accurately named since they vibrate with an active intensity, inviting you to walk down the streets, to step into the shops.
Amir Bey is one of the country’s most versatile artists, and his several works on sheet aluminum, copper foil, brass, acrylic and ink on plywood are as visually attractive as they are intricate, challenging onlookers to figure out how the embossed words are created on the aluminum. Three of them are from his “New Times Holler” series, which is also the name of his informative website. It should also be noted that his essay in response to the late Dr. Manning Marable’s biography of Malcolm X can be found in “By Any Means Necessary” (Third World Press, 2012).
As the curator, Debra Vanderburg Spencer, observes, the exhibit is a diverse collection of styles, techniques and ideas. It isn’t a thematic show and that is intentional, she says, since “it encompasses each artist’s individual practice rather than looking for links between them.”
Even so, it’s hard not to see at least a modicum of connection among the painters who seek meaning and expression in urban scenes, particularly William Behnken, Elena Bouza and Hatuey Ramos-Fermin. Likewise, John Ahearn’s mounted plaster pieces do, to some extent, signal Alfieri’s conceptions. Many visitors will not surprised by Betty Blayton’s acrylic and mixed media on canvas because her creations here invoke what she has done for years at the Children’s Carnival in Harlem. And if Kuniyasu Hashimoto’s contributions take on a classical mode, then Hrvoje Slovenc’s “Partners in Crime” will perhaps remind you of Frida Kahlo’s art. Prices of the pieces range from $350 to $35,000, including Calderon’s “formal and detached” embroideries, one of which you can take home for $1,800. But it’s hard to put a price on a beautiful work of art. The real value is derived from viewing them and taking home the often-riveting impressions, the lovely renderings that often defy monetary evaluation.
Come see for yourself in the remaining days of the exhibit, located at the Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive at 120th Street, on Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All the artists, said Paula Mayo, Interchurch Center president and executive director, will be on hand for the closing of the show on June 19, 6:30 to 8 p.m. If you can’t make it, the exhibit will be mounted again next year in Queens, so be vigilant.  For additional information, call (212) 870-2940 or email d.spencer@post.harvard.edu.