Flying Aces at Eric Firestone Gallery
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF THE ERIC FIRESTONE GALLERY
How & Nosm, Untitled, 2011
In the spring of 2010, gallery owner Eric Firestone approached independent curator Carlo McCormick with a “crazy idea.” Firestone had been exploring local scrapyards near his gallery in Tucson, Arizona, and thinking about how to incorporate scrap metal into art when inspiration struck: What if artists were to use the noses of discarded military planes as their canvases? Drawing on the history of past wars, when pilots distinguished their planes through painted designs on or near the nose of the aircraft, Firestone sought to extend this legacy of American folk art.
|Aiko Nakagawa Rendes-vous, 2011; Shepard Fairey OBEY Megaphone, 2011|
Upon seeing the planes in Arizona, McCormick agreed that the “aerodynamic nature of the cones is amazing in a way that is really sexy.” So, Firestone bought up a supply while McCormick went to work recruiting artists, who then chose the specific objects they wished to transform.
The resulting group show, Nose Job, on display through August 21 at Eric Firestone Gallery in East Hampton, features 24 nose cones by celebrated artists such as Dan Colen, Jane Dickson, Shepard Fairey, Ryan McGinness, Raymond Pettibon, Richard Prince, Kenny Scharf and Aaron Young.
Playing off Andy Warhol’s iconic Before and After series based on plastic surgery ads, Nose Job is about a particularly American transformation—of its culture and its landscape. McCormick calls these scraps’ very existence in the desert distinctly American: “We have big plans, big appetites, and we waste a lot,” he says. The project’s reuse of materials emphasizes sustainability, an important point for Firestone and McCormick.
The exhibition also responds to the myth and glamour of flying, but as McCormick notes: “The reality of flying is not so glamorous anymore. There is fear, the National Security Agency and an oil shortage, but we can be nostalgic about the love of transportation.” The lore of flying, and travel, and the freedom of renewal it provides, underpins this exhibition.
“I love the way Eric operates,” says McCormick of the manner in which Nose Job came together. “He is a bit of a gambler, and if he hadn’t been, the project wouldn’t have happened. It’s an adventurous thing.” Eric Firestone Gallery, 4 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 604-2386