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A Portrait of the Artist as a Large Mouse

Ward Shelley at Pierogi

Jan 2 - Feb 2, 2004
177 N. 9th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Reviewed by Flash Light

When I entered Pierogi for the opening, the first thing I noticed was that the gallery looked somewhat smaller than I had remembered it. Mounted around a center column I saw a few monitors displaying images of some sort of construction work. That made sense, since Shelley's work typically involved some sort of construction. But there appeared to be no construction in the gallery, and little in the way of art on the walls. There was also no sign of Ward Shelley.

"Where is Ward?" I inquired. "In the walls," came the reply. Indeed, I realized the gallery walls had been built out to allow enough room for a man to live inside. The video monitors interspersed footage of past construction work with live feeds from cameras showing Shelley moving about inside the gallery walls.

I learned the concept was that Shelley would live inside the walls for the length of the show. He would be producing art, which would then be displayed in the gallery. There were, in fact, cabinet doors mounted in the walls. Opening one, I found an assortment of artist drawn tee shirts. Behind another was a small sculpture. One opening revealed a drawing on a paper scroll; periodically the scroll would spin forward to reveal a different drawing.

The title of the show is "We Have Mice." Well, not quite. The gallery has an artist living as a mouse in its walls, which strikes me as a fascinating metaphor for Shelley's view of the role of the artist in the art world. The drawings aren't bad either.

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