When museums showcase art, the curators try and specialize the rooms to fit the pieces displayed; No Longer Empty does things the other way. Their recent exhibition at the Andrew Freedman Home, This Side Of Paradise, goes a step or two further and had art commissioned specifically for the space itself.
The large rooms filled with carefully constructed artwork managed to both tell a story of the past and reflect modern times. The Andrew Freedman Home was once a home for the once-rich elderly, until it was closed down and abandoned. The artwork does a beautiful job combining elements of the home’s glory days with elements of today’s life in the Bronx.
My favorite piece had three parts, each part being a wall panel. The first panel had nice windows on the sides, the central panel decorated with old yet elegant wallpaper with faded pictures of European passports and rich elderly men and women imprinted onto the wallpaper itself. The panels gave off an air of the elegance that the home had once had, and all the materials and photos had been found in the building by the artists. The next set of panels had cracked windows, the central panel showing burning or demolished buildings that existed in the Bronx in the 70’s and 80’s. Finally, the third set of panels had repaired windows, and photos of new buildings being built in the Bronx. This piece managed to show the different times that the Andrew Freedman Home had existed in- as a dignified home for elderly, as a building in a wild Bronx, and as a museum in an area being slowly reconstructed.
Many of the pieces reflected the same ideas that the wall panel had; the elegance of the past, as well as the reconstruction and turmoil of the present-day Bronx. This exhibit fascinated me because of its ability to carefully mix two very different cultures and feelings into several different pieces of art.
This Side of Paradise was a unique exhibit, and one that I most certainly wouldn’t mind visiting again.