Dubai probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of art.
Nor is a bar in Dumbo the place you’d imagine seeing the work of emerging Middle Eastern and Asian artists.
But next week Liz Roy is bringing her experience from two years spent in the United Arab Emirates, and a few of the artists she met along the way, to Rebar, the first of many curated events that will change that stuffy stereotype you associate with galleries.
“I think for a lot of people it’s an uninviting environment,” says Roy, who ran an arts center in Dubai, where oil money is fueling an explosion in art collecting. “The first thing that comes to mind is standing in a quiet, white-walled room with a glass of cheap wine, with art that may or may not appeal to you.”
When Roy came back to Brooklyn in 2006, she realized that what appealed to a lot of her friends was contemporary Asian art–only it was selling at prices well beyond their means. (Indian artist Subodh Gupta, for instance, sells his work for $90,000 and up.)
Knowing there are a lot of young, exciting artists from the Middle East and Asia, whose art is far more affordable (anywhere from $300 to $8,000), she decided to show them outside the stand-offish gallery scene. The name of her venture, like that sampling of dishes you find in Middle Eastern food — Mezze symbolizes the artists she represents (some from India, some from the U.A.E., some from China) and the places she intends to show their work (online and unexpected settings).
“I want to find ways to keep people interested, so they know it’s not going to be the same experience each time they see a show.” Three DJs will spin at Mezze’s launch party next Thursday, Sept., 27, for instance, were the work of six original artists will be on view for one night only.
Two will be in attendance: Grace Teng, an artist of Chinese descent who now lives in Texas (you can see the East-West influences in “Burning of the Breeze,” above), and Linda Kim, a Pratt grad who lives in Seoul (her painting, “Brooklyn 1,” is up top). Next month, a new group show will open at Halcyon, nearby. Beyond that, who knows…
“In a way, I want to keep people guessing,” says Roy. Though not about the work she represents. “I make a point of being accessible … for people who don’t necessarily have a background in art.”
Details on the launch party and Mezze at mezzeart.com. Images courtesy Mezze.