50th Anniversary Members Group Exhibition
Five decades have passed and First Street Gallery has not only moved several times from its original home on First Street on the Lower East Side, but also from its initial vision formed by a group of graduate students from Brooklyn College, and other artists as well, all affiliated with the Alliance of Figurative Artists in New York City.
In 1969, artists felt the need to return to figuration after years of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, and finally Pop Art. Many of the members were studying Balthus, Piero della Francesca and other Renaissance masters. Some went to Italy in search of the lost vocabulary of the masters of line, form, color, and spatial perspective. In the years following, new members introduced more inclusive sources for figuration, including the influence of photography as well as nineteenth and twentieth century masters. Now in 2019, dramatic changes have taken place in our global digital world, and we have embraced a vast array of directions which includes abstraction. Many First Street Gallery artists are experimenting with collage oriented spatial concepts, abstraction, narrative with contemporary themes, cinematic editing of spaces, personal iconography, and new sculptural materials.
The rules of aesthetic doctrines are open and each artist seems to follow the traces of his/her own artistic history. We also know we can no longer predict what kind of future mutations and variations will take place with our new understanding of nature, urban environment, and even cosmic space. Through the years, First Street has remained an artist-run gallery, guided by the belief that artists are best qualified to impart direction to every phase of their creative work.