Vision Quest: Neo-Shamanic Art in Brooklyn, NY, Jan 17th


Show image: Jason Leinwand “Accepting Fear Rather Than Trying to Understand It”

VISION QUEST – A Group Show of Neo-Shamanic Art
Opening:  Saturday, January 16th, 2010    7–10pm

On View:  January 17th–February 21st, 2010
Hours:  Thursdays & Fridays 3–6pm; Saturdays & Sundays 12–6pm

Brooklyn, NY –  OBSERVATORY and Phantasmaphile’s Pam Grossman are proud to kick off 2010 with VISION QUEST, a group show of neo-shamanic art, on view from January 16th through February 21st.

A healer, a medicine (wo)man, a guide:  the shaman is a figure who interfaces with nature magic and the invisible world at large, for the betterment of the tribe.  Fluent in the language of symbols, and a perennial student of plant wisdom, the shaman is also a translator – bringing back messages from a place veiled thick with leaves, bones, smoke, ghosts.

This journey to the other side – to the innerside – is not just a flowery promenade of song and trance; of friendly animal spirits and ancestral reunions.  For while this land is rife with vibrant, variegated beauty, it can also be a danger zone.  Images of decapitation and dismemberment abound – though ultimately act as portents for personal transformation and rebirth.  This shadowy terrain is trod only by those brave enough to encounter whatever may be found along the way, as each sojourn is mysterious, thoroughly unpredictable, and entirely individual.  However, the results of the trip often prove invaluable, as the traveler returns armed with knowledge that will in turn illuminate and repair the community, and fortify his or her own soul.

While the role of the shaman has traditionally been fulfilled by experienced elders in indigenous groups spanning culture and time, VISION QUEST posits that our artists fit the bill as well.  Today, with more of us living in an urban jungle rather than a real one, it has become all the more important to figure out ways to internalize the lessons of nature: its growth, its brilliant bloom, its death.  And in an age of digitization and distraction, of wire vines and humming screens, it’s no wonder we long for deeper, more sensory experiences of self – with all of its darkness and divinity.

As such, each piece in VISION QUEST explores the archetype of the shamanic voyage, using the tools of paint, pencil, or paper in lieu of fire, flower, feather.  Taken together this work represents a full spectrum of what it means to go underground and out of body; to go there and come back again, perhaps just a little bit wiser or, at the very least, more wide awake.

Jesse Bransford • William Crump • Scott Gursky • Juliet Jacobsen • Ashley Lande • Adela Leibowitz • Jason Leinwand • Christopher Mir • Joe Newton • Herbert Pfostl • Christopher Reiger • Christine Shields • Erika Somogyi • Jessie Rose Vala

Pam Grossman is the creator and editor of Phantasmaphile, the premiere online destination for art aficionados with a passion for the surreal and the fantastical.  An internationally beloved art and culture web log, it features daily spotlights on artists and events, as well as interviews with such visual luminaries as Thomas Woodruff, Nils Karsten, and Richard A. Kirk.  Phantasmaphile was written up two years in a row on the Manhattan User’s Guide Top 400 New York Sites list, and Grossman’s previous show, “Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists,” was featured by myriad taste-making outlets including Juxtapoz, Arthur, Upper Playground, and Neil Gaiman’s Twitter page.  “VISION QUEST” is her latest curatorial effort, and she is proud to have it hanging at OBSERVATORY, the art and events space she co-founded.

OBSERVATORY is an art and events space in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.  Founded in February 2009 and run by a group of seven artists and bloggers, the space seeks to present programming inspired by the 18th century notion of “rational amusement” and is especially interested in topics residing at the interstices of art and science, history and curiosity, magic and nature.  The space hosts screenings, lectures, classes, and exhibitions, and is part of the Proteus Gowanus art complex.  It is located at 543 Union Street (at Nevins), and is accessed through Proteus Gowanus Gallery’s entrance.  OBSERVATORY’s gallery hours are 3-6pm on Thursdays and Fridays; and 12-6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

For press and media inquiries, please contact Pam Grossman:  phantasmaphile [at]

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in Tucson, Arizona with Stephanie Smith.

One thought on “Vision Quest: Neo-Shamanic Art in Brooklyn, NY, Jan 17th

  1. Pingback: Vision Quest: Neo-Shamanic Art | URB.COM

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