Artist Brett Amory is best known for his take on the urban environment in his work, featuring gritty architecture and the faceless individuals waiting for another day to pass. More recently he has been focusing on bringing the gentrification aspect of city life to the museum environment with installations and artist residences at both the deYoung Museum (San Francisco) and Ft. Wayne Museum Art.
San Francisco’s Mission Neighborhood, NYC’s Brooklyn, and LA’s downtown area are all examples of areas that have transitioned from places where check cashing houses and pawn and loans have given way to trendy restaurants with upscale retail shopping. But Amory highlights this process by “documenting the change that occurs to a neighborhood over the course of a few years, but in reverse. He starts by creating a city block that has already been gentrified, and will subsequently transforms the buildings, sidewalks, and streets step by step until the neighborhood achieves its previous character” at the deYoung in an installation/in-museum residence entitled “A NEW ORDER”.
A NEW ORDER at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco
Amory says “Tall buildings of glass and steel replace mom and pop bakeries and bodegas. We have been witnessing the displacement of families and artists from major metropolitan areas in record numbers over the past few decades. Artistic hubs and the soul of neighborhoods are being destroyed in the name of progress; in the name of gentrification. Rents for these locals have become so high, they are forced to move further away from the cities. Artists start to rebuild their community again in areas that they can afford, but the same cycle continues. We have seen artist collectives and communal living increase so artists can afford to continue to work, create and afford to live in a thriving artistic environment.”
Meanwhile Amory’s inspiration for the installation at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art delves into past, present, and future. The installation “serves as an observation of the nation as a whole. It will have layers of growth and failure with undertones of industry, family, and heritage. The installation speaks through the language of architecture”. Impressively, Amory created a 30-foot installation reminiscent of the buildings and sites common to the Ft. Wayne, as well as a new body of paintings based on the city. All represent the changing environment of a modern Ft. Wayne.
FORT WAYNE, AMERICAN MONOLOGUE at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art
“Amory challenges the notion of the American Dream, the idea of resiliency, and the concepts of civic failure and success. A train station serves as a reminder of the robust Industrial Revolution, but the fact that it is abandoned reminds us of the de-industrialization of the 1980s. Abandoned buildings and foreclosures illustrate the housing bubble of the mid- to late 2000s that forced people to let go of their homes. However, the number of churches in Fort Wayne shows a town steeped in faith. Through all of the booms and busts, Fort Wayne serves as an illustration of a city, like many in theUnited States, determined to overcome and thrive.”
Further “Amory’s monologue about Fort Wayne serves as a contemplation about ‘All-American’ cities that have undergone similar struggles and victories. His sculptural use of colorful flowers growing beside a “For Sale By Owner” sign shines light on the determination to rise above negative circumstances and surmount improbable circumstances.”
Brett Amory was born in Chesapeake, Virginia, and in 1994 moved to San Francisco, where he lived in the Tenderloin neighborhood for 15 years. This transition altered his societal outlook and ultimately affected his decision to become an artist. He has had solo exhibitions with Jonathan Levine Gallery (New York), Lazarides Gallery (London), and Hashimoto Contemporary (San Francisco), and has participated in numerous group exhibitions internationally.
– Michael Cuffe for Warholian
To find out more about Brett or either installation above, visit his site at: BrettAmory.com