"Among the paintings in the recent "Karmic Abstraction" show at Bridgette Mayer Gallery was a large piece by Ryan McGinness. An art-world star - the New York Times says so - his work hangs in respected institutions like the Museum of Modern Art and Spain's MUSAC.
He's kind of a big deal.
McGinness had other works in the show, but let's focus on one: "Untitled (Black Hole, Black 72.1)." On a black background, neon squiggles race in and out of each other as if created by some cosmic Spirograph.
"Oh, and there's a black light, too!" Bridgette Mayer, the gallery's owner and namesake, said as she crouched, in high heels, behind a wall to dim the overhead lights.
What had seemed an arresting piece of abstract art immediately came alive in the black light's glow. The painting seemed to exist in wholly different planes, as if you could walk right into it with only the anticipation of what might be on the other side to keep you going.
This painting - 6 feet in diameter - wouldn't have fit in the Bridgette Mayer Gallery a scant year ago, before the gallery closed for a 10-month transformation. Major renovations knocked down barriers, taking out the one-bedroom apartment that awkwardly cut into the gallery's space. Mayer had opened her gallery at this location 10 years ago, then bought the Washington Square building five years later when she was 31. The recent renovation was a very expensive, time-consuming 10th-anniversary present to herself...."