The ArtCat calendar is closed as of December 31, 2012. Please visit Filterizer for art recommendations.


Ben Grasso, Rust Belt


Thierry Goldberg Projects
5 Rivington Street, 212-967-2260
East Village / Lower East Side
October 19 - November 25, 2007
Reception: Friday, October 19, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

THIERRY GOLDBERG PROJECTS is pleased to present Rust Belt, a show of new paintings by Ben Grasso. For his second solo exhibition with the gallery, Grasso continues to explore the decades long decline of The American City and specifically that of his hometown, Cleveland Ohio.

During the first half of the 20th century, Cleveland was the 5th largest city in America, thriving with steel factories and manufacturing jobs. In the 1920’s, Cleveland’s economy was booming while middle class families began to leave the crowded city for the suburbs. The nationalization of Cleveland’s public transportation system in the 1950’s and the eventual development of Eisenhower’s freeway system accelerated the migration to the suburbs. The steel mills that were the backbone of Cleveland’s economy closed down or moved to cheaper labor markets and thousands of jobs were lost. The city of Cleveland, once a thriving economy, transformed into one of the poorest cities in America.

Grasso grew up in 1980’s Cleveland, his new series of paintings explore the notion of his hometown’s state of blight. Mixing traditional painting techniques with a modern palette, Grasso works with the careful hand of Winslow Homer peer pressured by the Clockwork Orange crew. In “Whatever is Left of It,” he peels away the pre-fab panels, windows, and doors of a suburban house. The parts of the house hover parallel to its skeleton, revealing a washroom in plain view, toilette and sink installed. Severed from its suburban facade, the frame of the house appears as prison bars, the house pictured no more than a bleak cell.

With each painting, Grasso reaches for dynamite in a boyish and intellectual boldness. Taking cues from Wile E. Coyote and John Chamberlain in their thirst for creative destruction, Grasso establishes sudden scenes of impossibility in which the question rises, “How could this happen here?” and in turn “How could this happen to us?” with scenes so identifiable to the American landscape and experience. Harking back to David Wojnarowicz’s iconic burning houses, Grasso disturbs the sense of security and targets comfort.

Ben Grasso lives and works in New York. He holds an MFA in painting from Hunter College, New York and a BFA in painting from The Cleveland Institute of Art. His work has been exhibited at Spaces Gallery, Cleveland Ohio; Agenzia 04, Bologna Italy; Momenta Art, Brooklyn NY; Bucket Rider Gallery, Chicago IL; The J. McCullough Center Gallery, Arcade Gallery, and Reinberger Gallery, all in Cleveland OH; and at the ECA Gallery in Edinburgh Scotland.
Have photos of this show? Tag them with artcal-5714 to see them here.