David B. Smith Gallery is proud to present Ben Gocker’s A Bright Big Picture in Some Future Machine, the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
The show is comprised of a suite of new works made of wood, paper, wire, and objects that belonged to or were created by a woman named Helen Macro; these include paintings, a book, and pieces of pegboard. The work explores the intertwined histories of Gocker and Macro (the former owner of his home), the concept of artistic legacy extending beyond the grave, accident, fateful juxtapositions, and air conditioning.
Shortly after he and his family moved from Coney Island into the small fixer-upper in Northern New York, Gocker began learning about the former owner of the home who died in 2016 at the age of 94. In addition to running a dress shop out of her basement, what is now Gocker’s studio, Macro was also a dedicated painter, leaving over 100 paintings in her will to the public library in town, the library where Gocker also works part-time. Gocker moved all of the paintings to the library, where they were, and still are, being sold to raise money for an air-conditioning system.
With subject matter ranging from Siberian Huskies to bouquets of pink lilacs, to a fisherman headed down to the lake, Macro’s paintings depict life in the town where she lived and which Gocker now calls home. To complete the nod to place and the fact that Macro’s paintings are being sold to raise money for an air-conditioning system, many of Gocker’s works are all scaled to match the HVAC unit hanging from the ceiling of the David B. Smith Gallery main exhibition area, and feature the lattice-work pattern of the unit’s filtering component.
An amalgam of brightly colored carved wood, found materials, home remnants, and repurposed paintings, Ben Gocker uses air conditioning to explore the odd exigencies of kismet; once things are brought together in a certain time and place they cannot be undone, cannot help but condition our affairs, alter our environment, their effects extending even beyond the grave, that coolest air conditioner of all. With A Bright Big Picture in Some Future Machine, Gocker bends these parallels to braid a lattice of meaning where none had existed before.
Ben Gocker (1979, Rochester, New York) lives and works in Tupper Lake, New York. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Gocker is represented by PPOW gallery in New York and has exhibited his works, curated shows, and performed at numerous galleries and institutions, including the New Museum, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Rachel Uffner, James Fuentes, Interstate Projects, and Wallspace, among others. He has had two solo shows with PPOW in 2012, and 2014. His work has been reviewed or received mention in Artforum, The New Yorker, the New York Times, and Art in America. He is also the author of the book, The Pisces, published in 2012 by Content.