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Elisheva Levy: “Oh!”

Jack the Pelican

There are territories out there in Artland that have been so thoroughly explored, so exhaustively charted, settled and resettled so many times that they seem doomed to eternal redundancy. In a very short time, anthropologically speaking, graffiti has sadly become one of these places. Elisheva Levy, an intrepid young explorer who ordinarily traffics in delicately crafted objects of desire like grand pianos and sports cars has come upon this woeful landscape and breathed (and sprayed and dripped) a future into it. The scene she sets at Jack the Pelican has several of the key graff trappings: spray cans, which haven’t looked this fresh since Barry McGee showed his on Houston Street a decade ago; a big, non-committal exclamation: in this case “Oh!” and finally, and this is always the damnedest to execute: immediacy. For me, the beauty of graffiti is pegged to the conditions under which it was made. To pull something together while under duress is the art, what’s left on the wall is the record. Through the careful and unconventional crafting of now iconic props, Levy has left behind the remains of a drama that delivers all the tension of brazen creativity, with all its speed and suddenness, and she has generously created something else: a new route to a familiar destination.

—Rodger Stevens