This past January, Figureworks presented She Works Hard for the Money, an exhibition that showcased sex and prostitution in Amsterdam's De Wallen district. Following in March, Missionary Fantasy opened to address religious hypocrisy. Continuing with another taboo subject for polite conversation is Political Unrest.
Political Unrest is a group exhibition of works on paper addressing various aspects of our society in political upheaval. Pictured above is The Boston Tea Party by Joseph Hirsch. This lithograph was commissioned for the 1975 Kent Bicentennial - Spirit of Independence Portfolio. This piece commemorates one of our countries earliest uprising and has been capitalized on again in these last few years. Another piece from this portfolio by Colleen Browning depicts the diversity of our nation with face-to-face American portraits in the semblance of an American flag.
William Gropper, an artist having lived through the Great Depression, devoted most of his career exposing government ineffectiveness and social injustice, including the violent unionization of the labor movement. The New Bill is one in a number of works in this exhibit that showcase the combined passion and apathy of our government officials. Additionally, WPA artists Jack Levine and wife Ruth Gikow focused a great deal of their work on human rights issues, including the 1960s civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests. In 1968, Levine was commissioned by Time magazine to cover the National Democratic Convention in Chicago. On the Convention Floor is a study which highlights a cross section of delegates. Gikow's Protest, portraits a 1960s sit-in that remains an effective tool for change.
Mary Westring frequently addresses social concerns in her work. Summit was completed during the Vietnam War years to demonstrate the spiraling breakdown of our political leaders. James Grashow's striking wood engraving was created in 1968 for Avant Garde's No More War poster contest. Grashow's piece was one of the winners and featured in their November issue. This piece depicts a soldier drowning in the debris of war, the bubbles of peace rise into the clear space from deep within the soldiers soul. Forty years later, the subject of war persists in the most recent works in this exhibition by Edward Monovich. An ongoing series, these particular pieces portray children in pastoral landscapes tainted by hovering drones, enticing land mines, and graffiti.
Figureworks is located at 168 N. 6th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11211, one block from the Bedford Avenue “L” train. The gallery is open to the public Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1-6 PM and is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary and 20th century fine art of the human form.