The paintings belong to the wall, and the sculptures belong to the pedestals, don’t they? Maybe not, according to Adam Milner, whose current exhibition Public sculptures is based on spontaneous encounters with art – not in a museum or gallery, but in the spaces we least expect: those we frequent in our daily lives.
Organized by Cortney Lane Stell for Black Cube, the self-proclaimed Denver-based ‘nomadic museum’, the multi-site exhibit features 13 Milner sculptures on display in unconventional venues across New York City. The artist’s brightly colored and varied textures are staged in places that are both unusual and mundane, from a tree stump in Green-Wood Cemetery to the shelves of a Brooklyn bodega.
Visitors can find nearby sites and plot their own exhibition route using an interactive online map. Some pieces are easily accessible to passers-by, such as “Untitled” (2019), a glittering cast bronze and conch sculpture on display in the window of the New Express Tailor Shop in Lower Manhattan. Others require a little more advanced planning: “Pink Cookie Museum Display” (2021), for example, is attached to the collar of a dog named Oh Papa, who lives in Gramercy Park. (To view the artwork, text the owner of the artistic dog, Starlee, at 323-380-1456.)
While the choice of venues may seem at odds with traditional exhibition spaces, Milner dismisses the idea that they could be wacky or unlikely places to view art.
“These are all normal places for art to happen. It doesn’t seem so strange to me to put a sculpture on a car or on a dog. Most of these places already contain art – a bodega can have something behind the counter or hanging on the wall that’s there for artistic purposes, ”the artist told Hyperallergic.
“For me, it’s also a reminder that I don’t see the gallery or a museum as the end point of my work. I think it’s more fluid, than moving around the world in a weird way that’s hard to pin down, ”Milner added.
Milner, a former Hyperallergic contributor, has often considered the effects that place and context can have on the impact of a work of art. In an installation at the Andy Warhol Museum, Milner scattered a selection of personal items among the artist’s intimate possessions held in his archives – a pair of pink briefs, a dental mold – to uncover hidden connections. Public sculptures was born from Milner want to revive the works produced during the pandemic by taking them elsewhere.
“Part, for me, is letting the sculptures have a different frame for a while […] let them sit next to things different from what they would normally be sitting next to in a gallery or museum and let them absorb that, ”the artist said. “The green velvet sculpture in a bodega next to illuminated cans of Pringles becomes an interesting context.”
“Then it hit me – it’s really the people who have agreed to collaborate with me who see the works the most, the tailor in the store who sees this little sculpture every day,” Milner added. “The works can be really calm and unpretentious, and they cross all these different audiences. I liked this idea of dispersing them and doing a solo show that didn’t seem too grandiose. “
Public sculptures is on view at select locations across Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan through August 15.