A group of 22 USF students hopped off the subway and onto Canal Street on Friday morning, making their way through the various boroughs of New York City to the Lower East Side for a weekend of art and inspiration.
Before noon Friday, USF undergraduate and graduate students were reunited with their classmates and art professor Elisabeth Condon to experience the city’s annual outburst of open, free art exhibitions between the months of September and October.
Students of Condon’s three classes, advanced drawing, painting and a selected topics class, made the trip along with others interested in going.
Before leaving Tampa, Condon emailed her students the weekend’s itinerary of more than 50 art shows open from Friday to Sunday. The list also revealed that students would have a chance to visit the working studios of three major artists – David Humphrey, Wendy White and Rosanna Bruno.
She said the out-of-state field trip was voluntary, but highly recommended.
“From the trip, I hope students feel affirmed and get inspired from the visual works,” she said. “They’re seeing a level of art not available in Tampa.”
Students were exposed to all mediums of art across New York City, stretching from the Lower and Upper East sides, over to Chelsea and following a 30-minute subway ride to Brooklyn.
Students visited the Cueto Project gallery, featuring Marko Velk’s exhibition, “Transitation,” a vast industrial space filled with dark, sketched pieces. At Ry Rocklen’s show, “Believe You Me,” visitors were encouraged to walk barefoot on textured tiles.
Condon and another USF art professor, Neil Bender, offered this opportunity through their contacts in the New York City art scene. Though she teaches at USF, Condon works at her art studio in Brooklyn year-round.
Students were responsible for booking their own flights and accommodations, and several students stayed in the city longer than the weekend. Condon loosely structured the trip to let students develop a unique, personal experience with the city and its art.
Caroline Collette, a senior majoring in art with a focus in painting, reserved a week to explore the city. Collette arrived Friday and said she will stay at a friend’s place in the city until Saturday.
“I’ll just be hanging out with friends, looking at galleries, and Saturday, I’m going to the Murs concert,” she said.
Rick Dailey, a graduate student studying fine arts, started his trip early and arrived in the city Wednesday evening.
“I’ve been able to experience the different types of potential galleries for my own work,” he said. “It’s been a real chance for artistic growth because I’ve been able to see how I stack up against professional work, and I’ve been able to see how they live and work.”
Though the city is notorious for being expensive, students didn’t need to budget for art shows. Every show on the extensive itinerary was free. In addition, every Friday night Target sponsors free entry into the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which houses the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Robert Rauschenberg and Barnett Newman.
Though MoMA’s line Friday night snaked around two city blocks, students didn’t want to miss out on its special exhibition, “de Kooning: A Retrospective.”
“I loved looking at de Kooning’s paintings because there was so much movement through the pieces,” said Brittany Boucher, a senior majoring in art.
Boucher and a few other students took a particular interest in artist Jenny Saville’s exhibition titled, “Continuum.” Housed in the same building as Andy Warhol’s photography collection, “Liz,” and Bob Dylan’s “The Asia Series” acrylic paintings, Saville’s works were somewhat overlooked.
Students congregated in the two rooms dedicated to Saville’s massive sketches and pastel works dominated by ominous themes. In these rooms, Boucher applied the advice offered by Condon, trying to relate to them as a fellow artist.
“Saville was my favorite. I could see hints of her style in my work,” Boucher said. “She creates motion from sketching something out, perfecting that image around it.”
This was Condon’s eighth time hosting a student trip such as this, and expects student studios to change after returning to Tampa. Her favorite part of the trip is the aftermath, when it becomes obvious the depth and quality of her students’ work intensifies after better understanding the practice of looking at art.
“After we return, the studio is going to be cranking, and students will be interacting more together,” she said.