Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs

Edification value 3/5
Entertainment value 3/5
Should you go? 3/5
Time spent 27 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned
Matthew Cusik at Dorsky Gallery
Matthew Cusik, Three Horses, #4/20, 2011, print

Matthew Cusik creates images that initially look drawn or painted, but close up reveal that they’re collaged from meticulously cut up pictures, in the case of “Three Horses,” atlases.  It was like seeing all the oceans of the world in a single wave.

Matthew Cusik, “Three Horses,” close-up view

Just a couple of blocks beyond the Museum of Modern Art’s Queens outpost of PS1 lies Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs, another entrant in Long Island City’s burgeoning contemporary arts scene.

Despite the “gallery” in its name, Dorsky doesn’t sell art. Rather it is “dedicated to promoting contemporary visual arts to a broad public audience.” It holds three to four thematic exhibitions a year, for edification not commerce.  The gallery doesn’t have a permanent curator; rather it invites “curators, writers, and art historians” to submit proposals for shows to fill the gallery.  It also serves as an art exhibition space for several local colleges not blessed with their own on-campus art museums.

Dorsky Gallery Curatorial ProgramsDorsky’s building is modern, nondescript, and nearly windowless. It could house a small self-storage space, techie startup coworking space, or a secret government lab as easily as it could a setting for art. The interior is sleek and contemporary, which in New York gallery terms means high ceilings, column-less interiors, and concrete rather than wood floors. Actually, there are 2 art spaces at Dorsky and they split the difference, floor-wise.

Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs


The show I saw at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs has one of the cleverest, simplest titles of all the art installations I’ve seen for this project. “Wake” is about water. Paraphrasing the guy minding the gallery when I visited, it’s about where water used to be and is no longer, and where it wasn’t before but increasingly is now, and will be into the future.

And yet it wasn’t all a climate change doom-and-gloom-fest. Though there was quite a bit of that.  A fair amount of the exhibit just celebrated water and the life it contains, with a combination of abstract and representational work, and paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, and even some art books.

Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs

Naoe Suzuki at Dorsky Gallery
Naoe Suzuki, “Water is Taught by Thirst (Blue), Central Adirondacks,” 2015, Mineral pigment, watercolor, tea on paper

Naoe Suzuki, for example, examines inland waterways, depicting just the water, no labels, no forests, no towns or roads, in large format with blue watercolor on tea-stained paper.  They could be abstractions, pictures of anything, but at the same time, they couldn’t be pictures of anything else.  I liked them, along with most of the rest of the work on display.

Should You Visit Dorsky Gallery?

Dorsky Gallery Curatorial ProgramsDorsky is pretty small, and may not always justify even the quick-and-easy trip from Manhattan to Long Island City.  I was the only visitor when I went on on a dreary weekend day; the guy minding the place cheerfully turned on the lights for me.  He seemed happy to have a visitor, and to discuss the art and artists, and the place with me.

Dorsky’s curatorial approach is really interesting, and if “Wake” typifies what it puts on, I’m glad that it’s now on my cultural radar.  If you’re at all interested in contemporary art, I recommend a visit.  And if you’re going to PS1 anyway, it’s a simple matter to add a half hour before or after to check out this small, interesting venue.

Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs

For Reference:

Address 11-03 45th Avenue, Long Island City, Queens
Cost  General Admission:  Free
Other Relevant Links


Living Museum

Edification value  3/5
Entertainment value  4/5
Should you go?  
Time spent 62 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned John Tursi’s prolific, colorful, abstractions, en masse, amazed me.

The Living Museum, Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital, Queens
John Tursi, Abstract Paintings

A friend accompanied me to the Living Museum, and when Tursi asked her opinion of them, she replied unthinkingly, “This is crazy.”

I don’t believe in psychic powers. If they existed, we would have proved it by now.  And yet, I can’t deny that some places have an inexplicable aura about them — a feeling indelibly embedded in the stones and bricks.   Ellis Island, full of hopes and dreams from long ago.  The library at Columbia, resonant with over a century of stress and study.  

I mention this to set up my initial reaction to visiting the campus of Creedmoor Psychiatric Center.  Even just driving by Creedmoor’s forbidding deco-institutional buildings along the Grand Central Parkway, it commands attention.  You may not know what it is or what goes on there, but it has a hulking presence.  For lack of a better word, it’s creepy.  It comes as no surprise that it is a mental hospital.

The Living Museum, Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital, QueensCreedmoor dates back to 1912, when an abandoned National Guard barracks was used to house a few dozen patients.  At its peak in 1959, the sprawling facility housed an inconceivable 7,000 patients.  Since then, the inpatient population has fallen, leading it to sell the farm (literally), and also to abandon some buildings, adding to the creepiness of the campus today.  And at Creedmoor’s heart, in the ginormous former inmate cafeteria, lies the Living Museum.

Continue reading “Living Museum”