The black walls under red sashes depict an eerie setting that is inconsistent with the art gallery’s Wall Street surroundings. Whale noises followed by a techno beat greet visitors when they walk into the first room of Audart, an art gallery in Manhattan’s financial district. Audart appeals to all the senses, using the smell of incense and drying varnish mixed with strange sounds and blinking lights to titillate its visitors.
The Partners in Audart are stretching the idea of an art gallery by developing a new kind of art space. The owners are trying to establish themselves by using performance art, technology, painting, sculpting and combining them in innovative ways. And they have found a large space, the gallery was formerly the Dresdner Bank, where they are able to represent and incorporate a multitude of artists. Audart has another facet known as Audcom. Both businesses share one purpose: to promote and use technology. Audcom is a high-tech company that provides the hardware and some of the financing for the art gallery that pools separate mediums of art. Audrey Regan described the purpose of the gallery as a place where they "hope to use technology as a bridge between commerce and art, to use it as a tool by which one can infuse art into the mainstream." Regan’s hopes may be realized if the gallery can attract enough people who share their belief that technology has opened as many possibilities for art as it has for business. Uptown purists may not find Audart appealing, but it is hard not to find the impractical and whimsical nature of the place alluring.
In one room, Ragnar Lagerblad, has a baby "cyclops" in formaldehyde in a glass jar. The container rests on top of an altar of parts of crustaceans. In the next room are several pieces by Marque Cornblatt. One work, "Amber Waves," is a gutted antique radio with a video screen placed inside. The screen shows a man’s face up close wearing headphones. Minutes of the video roll by without any movement on the screen. Also on display is a performance piece that includes a room size puzzle by John Toth. Toth has taken a fabric called tricot and punctured holes large enough for the artists and actors to climb through. The structure allows the movements of the participants to be set to music. The work is suggestive of the architectural idea of mutable walls and overhangs made from soft flexible materials.The danger of performance art is that one can not casually stop in and experience it. The players or artists have to be present for the piece to work. And, it is hard to imagine what you cannot experience. However, there is enough to experience in the gallery to make it worth going. There are many rooms filled with unconventional images and installations. The time to catch this gallery is during the performances and openings, when the space reaches its height of activity.
Audart holds small plays during Wall Street lunch hours. The latest show was a play called "Frenesi," by Melanie Rey. The works by many artists are available until December 13th, with special performances on December 4th and 11th. Audart is located at 60 Broad Street.