To be honest, I breathed a sigh of relief as I approached the nearly unmarked garage door on a quiet end of Morton Street in NYC’s West Village. The new inhabitants of this stealthy gallery space, Morton St. Partners were about to pack up their first exhibition in a few days and I was desperate to see and share it here.
Unsafe At Any Speed features the work of around 40 artists and designers covering nearly every inch of Morton’s 3,000+ sq ft gallery interior. Curated by Kenny Schachter, he sourced much of the work after seeing it first shared online. There’s also three cars from Schachter’s collection on display which is the unique part to what Morton St. Partners are doing.
I had a chat with Jake Auerbach, a founding partner at MSP who explained the mission of the gallery was to build connections between car and art appreciation and collecting. This isn’t wholly a new idea, MoMA’s Automania exhibition in 2021 explored this and the Guggenheim Bilbao currently has a vast design-slanted transportation exhibition curated by architect Norman Foster running through 2022. But these are one-off exhibitions, whereas Morton St. Partners are looking to explore much broader territory.
The inaugural show is a foot to the floor experience. The work comes at you just inches inside the door and wraps relentlessly around the gallery walls. The traditional work heavily slants towards painting ranging from figurative to abstract. The colors are intense and the brushwork in many of the pieces feels immediate. At even a slow walking pace, the images whiz by as if scrolling through a social media feed. In addition to the 2d work, there’s several sculptures and NFT’s looping on canvas sized display monitors.
Having this sort of maximalist approach to the show I think is necessary to balance the three cars presented, which are pretty special. Just inside the door is a 1970 Lancia Fulvia Rallye in a deep chocolate brown. It’s one of the cleanest looking coupes ever designed in my opinion.
Towards the middle of the space is a 1969 Citroen Mehari with the transparent body. It’s crazy to think that this was an actual production car and not a concept. And even more bonkers to realize it’s over 50 years old.
Late architect Zaha Hadid’s Z Car I rounds out the vehicles on display. This three wheel concept created during the mid-2000s was intended as a hydrogen-powered, two seat city car. The asymmetrical design is heavily derived from Hadid’s fluid take on architectural forms at that time.
I’m looking forward to more visits to Morton St. Partners this year. The next exhibition at the gallery is slated to open in late May 2022.
Photos and Text: Dave Pinter