A Garden Grows in the Meatpacking District

photo story
A group of objects made out of wood

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Specimens.- 2018. 287 pieces of wood with powdered graphite, 42” x 35” x 6” approx

Sculptor Loren Eiferman has brought a veritable garden of strange to Ivy Brown Gallery this summer. Her meticulously fabricated wood sculptures create a fantastical garden of forms that are both biomorphic and often anthropomorphic at the same time.

According to Eiferman, the body of work is loosely based on a cryptic 15th century manuscript of illustrations (real and imaginary) housed at The Beniecke Library at Yale University. The Voynich Manuscript is a wild compendium of botany, astronomy, astrology pharmacology and who knows what else. It’s original language and code was finally cracked in 2020 after decades of attempts.

A metal object with flowers on a stick

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46r/New Growth- 2022, 217 pieces of wood, acrylic paint, linseed oil, 43”x26” x 3.5”.

One can see the influence of this clearly in the show, entitled Welcome to My Garden. The sculptures inhabit their own perfectly imagined Universe and the language of form and color is totally original. Fabricated out of found wood Eiferman has seamlessly constructed forms that look like that they just popped out of the ground or beamed down from a spaceship. It is as if they too are visually written in a secret code. Hard to crack but arresting to look at. The palette is soft and muted, though not shy. The wood has been deeply saturated with rich color often highlighted by hits of metallic pigment. Constructed of many, perhaps hundreds of small pieces of wood, Eiferman has contrived to make these sculptures look effortless.

A metal flower on a wall

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Abutilon- 2022. 118 pieces of wood with silver metal coating. 33 x 32 x 7
A sculpture of a plant

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8v- 2022, 154 pieces of wood, pastel, graphite, paper pulp and linseed oil, 60”x12”x4”. (detail)

Most are large wall pieces with some charming small ones displayed on shelves throughout the gallery. There is one larger floor piece that incorporates a found plastic object. I didn’t quite understand this one, but perhaps it’s the beginning of the next step and direction for the artist. Often artists end one body of work with w hint of what is coming next.

Two sculptures on a shelf

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Left- 5r- 2020, wood, earth, graphite, pastel and matte medium, 24” x 15” x 6”.
Right -28r- 2021, 47 pieces of wood, acrylic paint, oil stick and linseed oil, 27”x8”x9”. 
A piece of art on a wall

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29/17v- 2021, 76 pieces of wood, earth, matte mediums, pastel, linseed oil and silver leaf, 17” x 5”x 3.5

The sculptures are accompanied by two large spiral bound books of drawings that the artist has made, one a day, based on photos from the New York Times. They are quite accomplished and really deserve to be shown on the wall. A very separate but no less interesting body of work.

A drawing of two men

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Polarity- 2022, silver metal coating with Caran D’ache crayon, graphite and acrylic paint on newspaper, 11” x 14

The show closes on August 2, so I urge you to get over to the Meatpacking District where the gallery occupies a top floor space in a Flatiron type angular building. Nice views of the tourists and fascinating art inside.

Welcome to My Garden -through August 2. Ivy Brown Gallery 675 Hudson St, NYC .

About the writer: Melissa Stern lives in NYC and The Hudson Valley. She studied Anthropology and Art History at Wesleyan Univ. Her mixed material sculpture and drawings are in a number of corporate and museum collections including The International Center For Collage, News Corp. Inc. JP Morgan Chase, The Arkansas Art Center, The Racine Art Museum, The Museum of Art and Design and The Wiseman Museum in Minneapolis. Her multi-media project The Talking Cure has been touring the United States since 2012, showing at The Akron Museum of Art, Redux Contemporary Art Center (Charleston), The Weisman Museum, Real Art Ways (Hartford) and The Kranzberg Art Center (St. Louis), and at The Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton.MA. She has written about art  and culture for The New York Press and CityArts for eight years and is a contributing writer to Hyperallergic and artcritical. Melissa has joined Art Spiel as co-editor and contributing writer.