The Last Brucennial

The Bruce High Quality foundation put on it’s supposedly last ‘Brucennial’ this past Thursday at on the ground floor of the raw space in the new slope-sided building going up on Washington Street in the Meat Packing District. The rawness of the space fit the raw, jam-packed presentation of a week’s worth of viewable art placed on every available space, including the floor and the ceiling.

I think everyone who has gone to one of these Bruces will be seriously bummed out if this really was the end. These events are actually fun, as well as funny, serious, and irreverent. There is some really great art displayed along with some very silly, ridiculous stuff.

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Also on display was a diverse, eclectic crowd of people that I rarely see at gallery openings. Seemingly, the whole spectrum of New York City people managed to find out about it, and get in to the ‘Brucennial’—no mean feat. When we left at 9pm, there was a line that looked to be at least an hour long, people shivering to get in and have a cold PBR, and enjoy the art.  The music was rock—for a change—which was refreshing, and the DJs were throwing free T-shirts to the crowd of out-stretched arms that resembled a hawk putting food in the open mouths of her chicks.

There was a real bent over naked man installment, later substituted by a real bent over naked woman. They must have been very cold. A lot of people nervously suggested a blanket, but nobody would dare interfere with the art. There were stunning paintings, great photos, multiple videos, a lot of pubic hair, and a huge pile of debris on the floor. There was no master list of all of the art. The artist’s names were signed on the wall or on the floor next to the work. That was the only identification, and it was uniquely democratic.

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Everyone was actually looking at the art for a change, as well as the usual each other, and, of course, their phones—and they were having a great time, well oiled by the plentiful beer, and grateful to not be freezing outside on the line. The ‘Brucennial’—a great name—is a take off on the Whitney Biennial, which is being held simultaneously. The event shows how much more fun, and how much better it can be done. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that the new Whitney Museum building is going up down the block. If it is indeed the last one, it’s because it became a victim of its own success. Like the band or the athlete coming back after vowing to quit, however, I think we have not seen the end of this very cool event.

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