Ryan Foerster’s Home Is Where the Art Is

Also, a roof with a hole in it, a dirty sink and exploding sewers

Mr. Foerster's house. Photo by David Schoerner

On a patch of concrete in the backyard of the artist Ryan Foerster’s house in Brighton Beach, a large sculpture by Zak Kitnick had been chained to a fence, like a bicycle. The sculpture was made of recycled office shelves and its symmetrical lines and sharp angles would have made it look like a piece by minimalist Sol LeWitt, except that its surface was brown with rust. Mr. Foerster, 27, had put it there for a group show he curated at his house called “Harvest Moon.”

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“When we brought this out,” Mr. Foerster said, “there were two guys with shopping carts who were collecting scrap metal who were eyeing it. They stopped for a long time. Everyday people ask me about it. So we have it chained up out here so it doesn’t get taken away.”

Elsewhere was a piece of painted plexiglass by Erik Lindman and Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (frontman of the metal band Liturgy). They had painted it with blotches of green and yellow. It blended nicely with the overgrowth of the garden and a discarded piece of plexiglass that was in the yard when Mr. Foerster moved in. A canvas by Jacob Kassay—one of the artist’s coveted “silver paintings”—hung outside. The bronzing process Mr. Kassay uses in this series left this particular one looking a charred. It was easy to miss because it was the same color, size and shape as the rusted electrical box just below it.

Prominently featured in the front of the house was a large sail that was clear and hung from a tree in the yard. It looked like a piece of tarp that had blown in from one of the neighborhood’s nearby construction sites. Mr. Foerster was worried the neighbors might complain about it and ask him to take it down. No one has said anything yet.

Inside the house, Silvianna Goldsmith, the artist whom Mr. Foerster rents from, was sitting listening to National Public Radio and waiting for her friend to come by to fix the roof. There was a hole in it.
“Pardon the mess,” she said.

The mess, however, was the whole point. From the street, the house looked like any other on the block: the artwork could have been any number of strange objects that the locals might store thoughtlessly in the yard. Rochelle Goldberg’s plaster sculptures leaning against the house looked like weathered drainpipes. Lukas Geronimas’s wooden sawhorse really was a well-made sawhorse. Further blurring the lines between art and everyday objects, Mr. Foerster was using a shelf by artist Grayson Revoir as a place to stash his morning paper and coffee.

In a summer filled with original group shows—Bob Nickas’s Bridgehampton Biennial (where Mr. Foerster displayed some of his photographs), the New Art Dealers Alliance’s co-opting of an old glue factory in Hudson—“Harvest Moon” is easily the strangest. Here, simply in his house and with no institutional support, Mr. Foerster has featured the work of his peers for no other reason than aesthetic enjoyment. The artists in his show, however, have steadily climbing markets; a piece by Mr. Kassay sold at the auction house Phillips de Pury & Co. in May for $290,500, over an estimate of $60,000-80,000. It is something only a young and skilled artist could have come up with: both a serious exhibition and a way for an isolated talent to amuse himself in a neighborhood better known for its borscht than for an appreciation of contemporary art.

Ryan Foerster’s Home Is Where the Art Is