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Buttons as contemporary art, reimagined in NYC exhibition

AP , Saturday 23 Jan 2016
A Harlem Hangover by Beau McCall
“A Harlem Hangover,” by Beau McCall (photo:AP)
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A new exhibition at a Manhattan gallery proves that buttons, the important clothing item, can rise to the level of art. In the hands of 11 artists, the everyday, mundane objects are used to create sculptures, portraits and amazing wearable art — some political, personal or whimsical.

Each artist is "pushing buttons" beyond their normal use and reimagines and repurposes them as an artistic medium in contemporary art, said Peter "Souleo" Wright, curator of "The Button Show" at Rush Arts Gallery in Chelsea.

"What I tried to do with this show was look at artists who were elevating that level of craft and making polished, well-executed works that can stand next to a painting ... because of the amount of detail and precision in the work," added the curator.

In "A Harlem Hangover," Beau McCall simulates a spilled wine bottle. It lies on its side on a high pedestal and a long ribbon of buttons cascades into a pool of ruby red buttons on the floor.

The Harlem artist's technique involves lining his object with an identical button and then adding a second layer of buttons of varying shapes, sizes and texture for a three-dimensional effect. The stitching that holds them together becomes an integral part of his design.

In another piece, a school desk becomes a statement on his childhood Catholic school experience, where punishment was physical and doled out with a ruler.

The exhibition runs through March 12. It's presented by the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, founded in 1995 by hip-hop producer Russell Simmons and his brothers Danny and Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons.

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