In which our art critics highlight a favorite work on view at Artomatic

Deb Jansen‘s mother wanted her daughter to paint as well as the painter who painted the work above the couch. It seems, from this installation, and the words written on objects within, that mother had a very specific idea of what art is, or should be—-a pastime whose evolution ended around the late 19th century, and which took in no influence from European movements or Asian and African traditions. Plenty of mothers feel the same way, no doubt.

As a whole, the installation is a tough sell in Artomatic. It can be found on the fourth floor, in one of those common spaces where artists receive a section of wall to make the best of what’s available. On either side of the installation are works by another artist. The couch could easily be mistaken for a spot to catch a break by a gallery-goer who is not paying attention.

If you manage to stay standing, pay attention to the craft. The installation is immersive, with its symmetrical arrangement of furniture and hodge-podge of family photos, candles, cigarettes, and other stuff. In fact, the only thing that interrupts the suspension of disbelief of standing in a 1960s suburban living room (apart from the flotsam of fourth-floor clutter) is the writing. “Art is not necessarily something you want over the couch,” reads the text on the art over the couch. “I want you to know that you are beautiful and full of potential. I never heard this growing up…” reads the text on the mirror. It’s common and it’s sad: Somewhere between Rockwell and Pollock it’s easy to assume that the majority of Americans lost touch with what art does and what artists do. The installation reminds us that for artists and art writers, there is still much work to be done.