PUGG Gallery at 624 Broadway may be moderately sized but the space is currently holding some very big ideas within its walls. The Life of Moa, a temporary solo show by Adrielle Farr, an artist with Kingston roots, is a multi-media repurposing of myth and imagination with the aim of turning thoughts on the current state of the world into a more immersive and positive experience. Rather than succumbing to post-election day anger, Farr got busy living and diving into the “collection of murals and relics” that sprung from the artist’s own head, much like Athena once burst from the very forehead of Zeus. Likewise, Farr has taken a lot of patriarchal iconography and made it more inclusive, open and free to individual precepts.
I didn’t want to stick a recording device in Farr’s face at her opening, but she was gracious enough to glide around and explain to me her story of a sea child in a conch shell who revolutionizes a society to be inclusive and think for themselves. The show uses the pop-up gallery’s own wall space as well as animations and sculpture to tell the story of the life of Moa. You can catch the brightly colored and inspiring works until August at which time, Farr says, it will be kind of like how classical frescos were covered up only to be discovered may years later. She had a very zen attitude about the process for someone who had spent a lot of time making art that will only be seen for a short while. What a powerful lesson on impermanence.
Without giving away the story in full, Moa grows up and sort of rejects gender constraints and lives by the principles of truth, love and justice for all. Upon death she insists no elaborate crown or orthodox social control be implemented in place of the core message of love. Farr told me how at first she associated that with concepts that we have been taught to mock these days, like hippies, but which actually had strength.
I had long been a fan of Farr’s various social media posts of work-in-progress comic book-style characters, tattoo commissions and funky celestial beings. It was very fun to also see her run wild on an entire interior and get to do fine-detail checkerboarding, as well as incorporate many other techniques into transforming the atmosphere that I won’t give away. It was so nice to sort of be in a glum mood and be picked up out of it and completely transported by the show, and then sent back out into the world feeling refreshed and inspired by another person’s imagination put to use.
It’d be nice to see more inventive programs like this sprout up in our quest for renewal. I’m not sold, for example, on the bike lanes being discussed for Kingston, as some of the streets are so damn old and narrow that they’re already cluttered. Programs that involve and encourage locals, however, over looks-good-on-paper legislation seem to be something we could use more of.
Lara Giordano is an art teacher at Kingston High School and helped start Pop Up Gallery Group, the name the students gave it.
“It started as an idea instigated by former mayor [Shayne] Gallo,” she tells me. “He came of his own volition to ask the art department to develop an after-school program that involved high school students in the arts on Broadway. The idea was to inhabit empty storefronts on Broadway to create exhibition opportunities for alumni. It took a while to get started but it has been two years now. I curate it in that I have access to the alumni. I ask people who have graduated from Kingston High School who I know are making art. I went first to Scott and Amy Ackerman because I knew they would have work in a minute and they did.”
Originally they rehabbed different spaces but now have a permanent project space. You can learn more at the projects page at www.pugg.space, where you can see what they have done and find contact information. They were funded through a community block grant but have no funding for next year. Hopefully people will rally behind it because it is a great concept and it would be awesome to see it remain ongoing.
“Ed Kang, the owner of the space, is going to let us keep using the space permanently,” Giordano says. “He was inspired and thought the kids were doing great community work. But we don’t have the money to fund the PUGG students. It was a work study program and they were paid money to help with all the grunt work and renovation. So now we are actively seeking funding. I’m hoping the city comes through with other money but for now they haven’t. I have lots of ideas, however.”
Until next time, let’s remember that the practice of sending out good vibes and maybe receiving better energy in return begins with each of us. May you all find the comfort of mind and strength within to hear your own inspiration calling you to act for better days and nights ahead.