I’m not going to lie: During my tenure as an arts journalist, there have been times when I’ve gazed blankly at some sort of abstract sculpture or conceptual object and thought to myself, Hey, that might make a cool paperweight. Well, it looks like somebody might be watching over me because my prayers have been answered. For its inaugural exhibition this Friday, Bushwick’s Fisher Parrish Gallery will present “The Paperweight Show,” a group exhibition consisting of over 100 paperweights made by an eclectic selection of artists and designers.
“My sculpture professor used to tell me a sculpture was the thing you bump into when you are looking at a painting,” Zoe Fisher, one half of Fisher Parrish Gallery, joked this week over the phone. Of course, Fisher doesn’t subscribe to that idea (which was first floated by Ad Reinhardt), but with this show, there are functional concerns at play. Paperweights are “easy for people to make, but also for people to buy,” Fisher said. “We all live in New York City, we have small apartments.”
Fisher Parrish, which is in the same space where Fisher used to co-run 99¢ Plus Gallery and Handjob gallery, is a collaboration between her and the furniture dealer and gallerist Patrick Parrish, who ran the Tribeca design gallery Mondo Cane for nearly 15 years before opening a self-titled project in 2014. Around a year ago, Fisher came on as gallery director of Parrish’s space, and from there they “started talking and working together and we realized how much we had in common,” Fisher said. It was roughly around this time that her partners in 99¢ started moving out of New York. “It became very clear that everyone had been moving on,” she said.
“The Paperweight Show” brings together a diverse group of creative people, from conceptual artists to furniture designers, and prices ranges from $50 to $6,000. Nick DeMarco made a piece that consists of cement inside branded drug baggies. Katherine Gray and Eric Huebsch created a blown-glass object that looks like a more traditional paperweight, just much bigger: it is eight inches by eight inches, and has a sculpture of a beer can inside of it. I can’t be positive, but I’m pretty sure Christopher Chiapa’s piece is just an Atari joystick. While the show certainly has a novel curatorial conceit, Fisher tipped her hat to noted paperweight designers Enzo Mari and Carl Aubock, whom Parrish co-authored a book about, as an inspiration.
A good amount of remodeling work has gone into turning 99¢ into Fisher Parrish—walls were knocked down, cleaned up, and painted white. (The color of those at 99¢ varied regularly depending on the exhibition.) With that said, the spirit of the old space, which notably did a group show with artists taking stabs at creating lamps of some sort (it was called “The Lamp Show,” naturally), is still intact. “We want to keep 99¢ alive in its own way,” Fisher said. “It’s going to be really similar, and I don’t see any problem with that.”