From a distance, “Everything Must Go,” an exhibit of new work by David Shapiro, appears as though someone’s wares laid on the street were moved inside a gallery. Is this a yard sale? A document of tough times presented as an exhibit? An artist throwing in the towel? Placed on a large drop cloth on the floor, the objects reveal themselves upon closer inspection—cast, drawn, painted, carved—to be handmade.
A miniature “Homeless Museum,” pistachio shells and potatoes cast in bronze, a ship with obituaries sewn on the sails, miniature garbage bags, redrawn books and takeout menus, models for preposterous public sculptures—dissolving boundaries, misapplying process, materials, context and scale—with humor and technique, Shapiro reaffirms the vitality of art, and the pleasure and worth of making it. A sly comment and critique of art market mechanisms, an exploration of relative worth, “Everything Must Go” speaks to the cultural moment of anxiety, and the revaluation and realignment of priorities.
“Falling prices, galleries folding, funds drying up—like everything else, the art world is in trouble. The slick slides away. The fog has lifted. For the artist, the fantasy is over. All that remains is the work. When the business is bad, the art gets good.” (Shapiro, 2009) .