'America' Comes to Williamsburg - NBC New York

'America' Comes to Williamsburg

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    'America' Comes to Williamsburg
    Joseph Szabo
    "Tom on his car, 1977" by Joseph Szabo is part of the photography exhibition "America."

    If you were on a wild, drug-fueled quest to find the American Dream in 2009 you'd likely skip Vegas and head straight for Williamsburg in your red convertible. So it makes sense that that's where "America" landed. "America," in this case, is the title of a wide-ranging photography exhibition and auction. With three galleries of photographs on display and up for auction, the goal is to celebrate American photographers and raise money to support the work of the same, through the group Americans for the Arts. The show features the work of more than 40 artists, including Jock Sturges, Les Krims, Ben Watts, Cass Bird, Jason Nocito, and Vincent Laforet.

    Not all Americas are the same, and the collective effect of walking the exhibition with a can of Budweiser in hand and Neil Young blaring from the speakers at Fast Ashley's Studios in Williamsburg is more Allen Ginsberg's poem "America" or Iggy Pop's (who, incidentally, is the subject of one of the photgraphs) "Wild America" than it is John Mellencamp's "Our Country." This America lunges through time and space—lurching from a shot of Willie Nelson's guitar to sexually charged pool photographs to an aerial of Coney Island to someone being hauled away by cops in the NY Subway 1979.

    Many of the images are content to chronicle party scenes, beaches, nature or small town life, but William Lamson's "Polson, Montana"—a roadside billboard depicting a sweeping landscape blocking out the actual vista behind it—probes at the heart of the meaning of America and the selling of the American dream getting in the way of the real thing.

    All photographs, signed and framed, are available via online auction (where the entire lot can be viewed) though the end of the month. Fast Ashley's Studios, IC LAB, and the artists involved are donating their time and 100 percent of the net proceeds from the auction.