Swifty’s, a popular Upper East Side haunt, was transformed into a makeshift gallery on June 25 to exhibit the art of Vermont-based artist Elizabeth Nagle. Nagle showed a collection entitled Water Works which was curated by Patricia Attoe. Attoe’s approach to showing work involves inviting the viewer to interact with art in a relatable setting. She says, “Rather than having it on the floor in their studio they have it up on the wall. And to also see it in an environment that you’re living in. So you go out to dine you can imagine it in your living room.” This unique form of curation was applied to the Water Works exhibit and showcases the works in the elegant dining space of Swifty’s. Although this concept has merit in its own right and may serve to highlight works in certain situations, here the dim lighting and already adequately decorated walls of Swifty’s served to distract from the artwork itself.
Nagle’s soft and elegant colors and shapes clashed harshly with the décor of Swifty’s and, while it was enjoyable to be served appetizers and drinks from the top-notch Swifty’s menu, this restaurant was not the best environment for these works. That being said, the art in and of itself was very pleasing to the eye and reminisced of summer times at the pool or beach. Nagle speaks to the inspiration of these water themed works saying, “When I started the series I was doing a lot of swimming with my sister and it was just a really fun time. I was just very much into the water and the temperature of the water and the warmth of the water and the whole experience. I spent a lot of my youth in the water as well.” Nagle enjoys playing with mystery and ambivalence in some of her works and is greatly inspired by the psychological concept of Pareidolia. Pareidolia is the way the human brain naturally finds recognizable images in abstract patterns. She speaks to this inspiration saying, “I found the word because I was sort of struggling with the fact that I was sort of seeing things every day… So I started to realize that I actually liked the idea of playing with that a little bit in my paintings.” Nagle’s artworks do invite the viewer to add an interpretation of their own if they like or to simply enjoy their visually pleasing nature.