Nearly a year ago, art dealer and ARTnews memoirist Joel Mesler, the erstwhile proprietor of Lower East Side galleries Untitled and Feuer/Mesler, put down roots in East Hampton, New York, opening Rental Gallery in a space next to Harper’s Books on Newtown Lane.
Mesler is also an artist, and he has maintained his artistic practice. And so, in an unusual move, when NADA Miami Beach opens next week at Ice Palace Studios, the Rental Gallery booth will be full of work that Mesler made himself.
Rather than issue a conventional press release, the artist and dealer has made a video to act as a preamble to the suite that will go up in Miami next week, and it’s a sequel of sorts to the clip he released when his gallery opened. That was a deadpan micro-documentary employing Johnson, art adviser Benjamin Godsill, and Gagosian gallery director Adam Cohen as talking heads, as they lightly ribbed Mesler on his choice to bail on Manhattan to move out east. Mesler’s three children are prominently featured.
This new video, called “The Dry Years,” is just as slickly produced and generous in spirit. It, too, features Johnson and Cohen, and once again brings into the frame Mesler’s adorable tykes, but it takes a slightly more serious turn by addressing his decision to embrace sobriety after years of heavy drinking (It’s also a topic Mesler has touched upon in his memoir columns for ARTnews.)
The video begins with Mesler sitting on a bench in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art, a setting that brings out a host of memories.
“I’m sorry, MoMA, because in 2011 I broke into your Garden Party,” Mesler begins, referring to the glitzy annual fundraising gala that takes place right where he is sitting, and going on to tell a rather picaresque story.
The film then examines his artistic practice. When NADA opens December 7, Mesler’s work will no doubt bring a bit of dry perspective to the proceedings in Miami Beach, land of a thousand cocktail parties.
Until then, you can watch the video below.