Man vs. Nature April 29-May 28, 2011

Man vs. Nature   April 29-May 28, 2011
Man vs. Nature
April 29 - May 28, 2011
Opening reception: Friday, April 29th, 2011

“Man vs (Mother) Nature,” a mixed media group exhibition curated by Karen Hudson, sponsored by Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, Loft Gallery, Delaware Arts Center.

Alliance Gallery
37 Main Street
2nd floor
Narrowsburg, NY

Gallery hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Press for "Translations From the Ubiquitous Largesse" in The New York Times - June 22, 2010

Press for "Translations From the Ubiquitous Largesse"       in The New York Times -  June 22, 2010
photo: Robert Wright for The New York Times

article by By PENELOPE GREEN
Published: June 22, 2010

Shari Mendelson, an artist in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, makes iridescent vessels that recall Roman and other ancient glass objects. They are bubbly and precious-looking, and Ms. Mendelson fashions them out of plastic bottles that she harvests from the trash, slices with metalworking shears and hot-glues back together.

Friends and family hoard their recycling items for her. Dasani water bottles are particularly prized for their color and shape, but she’ll take an Evian or Volvic bottle in a pinch. Recently, she was hankering after Poland Spring bottles, the bottoms of which she needed to finish a few pieces that are on view at the Sideshow Gallery on Bedford Avenue.

Recycling plastic bottles into art is both thrifty and political. How did you get started making objects this way?

I had been making larger installations out of sheets of plastic that I would buy, and then I had all these plastic scraps left over that I would throw away. It didn’t make any sense. I’m an avid composter. I have worms!

The garbage struggle! Did you ever make furniture?

Not out of bottles. My husband and I bought a little farmhouse in the Catskills. We were taking out closets, baseboards and weird shelving, cutting it up and bringing it into the city to throw away because the dump up there wasn’t open when we were working. But that didn’t make any sense, either. And we had a house with no furniture. So I used the wood to make a coffee table, and then a bench you could sit on to take your shoes off. So we were killing two birds with one stone.

Are there neighborhoods that are particularly fruitful for plastic bottles?

Having just wandered the streets of Williamsburg this morning at 7 a.m., it seems that the abandoned streets are better. As the streets get fancier here, people sweep their sidewalks. People say that city dogs can grab and swallow a chicken bone before being found out; I can do that with a perfect Dasani bottle. I try and get it in my bag without breaking stride. The recycling bin at work is a good source, and my family and friends.

What can you deduce about folks from the kind of stuff they throw out?

The amount of Vitaminwater people drink is astonishing. I don’t understand it. And the fact that there are all these water bottles in the trash, and so much of the time they are only half empty. I don’t know why we drink so much.

I guess we’re a thirsty culture.

What I also end up thinking about is desire. I’ll be walking behind someone in Midtown and they’ll be drinking a bottle of water, and I’ll just want it.

“Translations From the Ubiquitous Largesse,” a show of Ms. Mendelson’s vessels and work by Paul Baumann, who also makes pieces out of trash, continues through July 18 at the Sideshow Gallery, 319 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn. Information: (718) 486-8180 or

Sideshow Gallery June 5 - July 18, 2010

Sideshow Gallery    June 5 - July 18, 2010
For Immediate release:

Shari Mendelson and Paul Baumann
June 5 – July 18, 2010
Reception: June 5, 6-9 pm

Sideshow Gallery

319 Bedford Avenue
Williamsburg,Brooklyn, NY 11211

Thursday – Sunday
12:00 – 6:00pm, and by appointment

Tel: (718) 486-8180
Fax: (718) 486-8180
Directions: L train to Bedford Ave stop.
Located on Bedford Ave between S2nd St and S 3rd St.

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. (Walt Whitman Song of Myself)

The work in this exhibition revels in a "largesse", drawing upon and transforming the abundance of abandoned trash for both it's raw material and point of departure. What is ubiquitous and freely available becomes a symbol for inventiveness and wonder - an opportunity for creative response, such as shells on the beach are to a child. Both artists take particular delight in noticing the overlooked and discovering new ways to utilize and re-imagine this STUFF THAT IS JUST AROUND ALL OVER THE PLACE. They re-mold it; transform it; recontextualize it – these new works "transcend" the original meaning and use, delivering a "translation" while not obliterating the past history and present character of the found material.

Mendelson (see also will be showing sculptures that are inspired by historical ceramic, glass and metal vessels and constructed from found plastic bottles. Some of these pieces are copies of specific glass bottles from the Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum. In other pieces the shapes of the found material influence the outcome. The larger vessels will be shown on sculptural bases built from altered cardboard boxes. Mendelson playfully addresses issues of mass production, waste, the value of objects, history and culture. In a recent review Annie Buckley wrote, "What seemed at first glance to be glass vessels were made from used water bottles. Both the forms - an orbed vase, an elegant if eccentric goblet, a blue candy dish - and their transparency gave the impression of glass vessels, but the intricate surface pattern and layered texture belied this presumption. Made from bits of repurposed plastic pieced together into vessels, Mendelson's works move past the dualistic premise of remaking glass objects in plastic and into new territory."

Baumann will be showing large installations and excerpts from a series of Polaroid prints. The installations have grown out of his interest in taxonomies. The Polaroid series (see also has a similar rootedness in the feeling of responsiveness and improvisation; of movement through successive experiences, experiences that are presented here also in various "frames of reference". "Real" and illustrated light are juxtaposed. Found objects, transformed found objects, and found images are re-deployed in his prints, as chance encounters with "real" objects also see these transformed & re-presented, for example, as various characters, such as a wilting daisy as Pierrot.

In speaking of his search for yellow materials for one of his large color/taxonomy based installations Baumann states, "Yesterday I saw something bright yellow on a sidewalk near a fence in the distance, which turned out to be sunlight finding its way through a chink in the bottom of the fence in the evening and laying over a small triangle of concrete."