UNIT A anniversary celebration full of promise for bright artistic future

Art Press Release from United States. Published by anonymous on Saturday 13 April 2013.

UNIT A anniversary celebration full of promise for bright artistic future image UNIT A anniversary celebration full of promise for bright artistic future image UNIT A anniversary celebration full of promise for bright artistic future image UNIT A anniversary celebration full of promise for bright artistic future image

UNIT A Contemporary Art Space celebrated its first anniversary in the downtown Fort Myers River District last Friday night. If the studio enjoys as much success in its second year as it has in its first, Fort Myers will be truly fortunate.

UNIT A opened in March of 2012. Although he could have opened his art space anywhere in the world, internationally-renowned artistMarcus Jansen decided to set up his gallery in hometown Fort Myers. So he transformed the forgotten old church building that housed his art studio into the largest private art space of its kind in all of Southwest Florida.

From the outset, Jansen and his staff (“the unit”) have set about converting the cavernous warehouse into a chic vortex of creative elan where visual art morphs into environmental theatre in the tradition of Richard Schechner.

Take Urban Decaydence, for example. Orchestrated by elite event planner Pam Beckman with assists from Danielle Masseria and Lia Martino, the Alliance for the Arts’ fundraiser breathed life into Marcus Jansen’s post-apocalyptic urban landscapes by yanking Dorothy in her iconic gas mask, the Faceless Series’ Television-Head, and a pink polka-dotted mushroom from Jansen’s canvases and circumambulating them around the gallery to the dismay and delight of guests. Even more startling was Beckman’s use of layered “acts” to take her audience from void to vision by introducing a tantalizing bit of taste here, music there, followed by color, light and even smell.

Besides Urban Decaydence, UNIT A has hosted Sonic Combine (an event suggested by local artist and friend Michael Saint Amand), an artistic night of sound, visuals & art celebrating Cage, Cunningham, Mercer & Rauschenberg (complements of Rauschenberg’s close musician friends, Kat Epple, Lawrence Voytek and Lorrie Getford), and a host of other avant garde events not the least of which are the first-Friday open house shows held in conjunction with Art Walk each month.

To be sure, UNIT A is a reflection of the heady, deliberative Jansen, whom art critic Justin Ferraro once praised for his “unique awareness of the world.” As a result of Jansen’s pervasive influence, UNIT A oozes the disquieting feel that anything might happen at any given moment, even in a place as steeped in tradition and the past as Fort Myers is. (Think Edison & Ford Winter Estates, the historic buildings that line both sides of first and even theParallel Worlds, Parallel Lives exhibit at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center that features historic photographs from the Hanson Family Archives of the early days of Fort Myers.)

It is this intense sense of possibility that draws people from disparate walks like a magnet to UNIT A. Art, dance, fashion, literary, gay, bohemian, political, Euro and local all intersect physically and intellectually beneath the exposed painted steel trusses towering high overhead. You simply never know what to expect or who you’ll bump into during a UNIT A event. And that, in part, is what attracts people to the space for events like last Friday’s anniversary blow-out. After all, no one wants to be conspicuously absent.

But in the final analysis, no one would come if the art weren’t exceptional, and Jansen not only has the reviews to prove it, but a growing list of honors and awards (Aesthetica Art Prize, Art Prize Arte Laguna, Dave Bown competition and Absolut BLANK to name just a few). But Jansen and “the unit” are not wont to rest on their accomplishments. They’ve now partnered with Jonas Stirner, who is to sculpture what Jansen is to expressionist painting. As Robert Rauschenberg’s gallery assistant of 14 years, Stirner is experienced at setting trends and establishing artistic standards.

If he and Jansen work together and play off each other the way Rauschenberg, Darryl Pottorf and John Cage once did, UNIT A could very well be regarded one day as an epicenter of several artistic movements. Clearly, at UNIT A Contemporary Art Space, everything is possible. Even the impossible.