Masks In The River: The Sculptures of Poet Joseph A. W. Quintela

I met up with Joseph A. W. Quintela a couple days ago to catch up, and to check out his art exhibit at Dumbo Sky. In true JQ fashion, he first absorbed me into another conceptual piece of his that’s all about expectation, behavior, and contracts. Among other things, I signed a contract stating that I would not play with the art…and then promptly disobeyed.

View through the mouth of one sculpture (I am not very tall).

View through the mouth of the sculpture depicting Scorpio (I am not very tall).

Portrait of the Artist as the Cast of You in Eye is all about questioning, identity, and introspection. Each piece is a cast of Quintela’s body and/or face in strips of dictionary paper (be sure to ask him which dictionaries). We talked about how we both get in trouble for getting too close to art in galleries as I pressed my face into the mold representing Scorpio.

Yes, each of the 12 pieces speaks to or from a sign in the zodiac, how each reflects itself in Joseph’s life, but also it’s elements (earth, wind, fire, water). He is, admittedly, not fanatically obsessed with the zodiac itself, leaving a nice space open for ourselves as viewers to come into the pieces.

Two sculptures hang from the middle of a tall ceiling. In one, we face masks identically placed on the wall. In another, two masks face each other touching hands, so if we step in we see each other with a similarly obscured face. A third, a burnt figure revealing a book spine. One even looks out onto the river.

I love any art I can play with, or get intimate with (*cough* sleepnomore *cough*). In the aforementioned contract, I agreed to choose one piece I liked most, but since the sculptures are interactive in varying ways I was unable to fulfill my obligation.

Go check out the art, and enjoy a wonderful closing reading this Thursday: David Lehman, Maya Pindyck, Ronnie Norpel, Jackson Taylor, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and of course Joseph A. W. Quintela will be sharing themselves against the backdrop of many paper faces, the East River, and the lights of the Manhattan Bridge–what could be better than that?

Sculptures from the show.

Sculptures from the show.

Dumbo Sky | 10 Jay Street; Suite 903
Closing Reception and Poetry Reading
7-10pm; Thursday 17 October, 2013

RSVP to the event here

Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein is the founding editor of SOUND: a weekly literary magazine on contemporary musico-poetics, and an associate editor for Rattapallax. She received her MFA in poetry from The New School, and her BS in classical vocal performance and literature from Mannes. Her chapbook, Quiet, was selected by Matthea Harvey as The New School’s 2012 Chapbook Contest winner for poetry. She is currently writing the libretto for Jonathan Dawe’s operatic re-telling of Tamburlaine. @Elkawildling


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