By Tara Kyle
CHELSEA — Inside a building toward the desolate end of West 29th Street, the private detectives of Elite Investigations manage services including celebrity protection, explosives detection, and surveillance of wayward spouses.
Above it on the second floor, a new exhibition at the year-old Skylight Gallery is offering an artistic look at private investigation.
“PRIVATE i” features works by 20 artists who were given just three weeks to create a piece that examines the investigative process through painting, sculpture, photography, digital art or an interactive installation.
“This idea was that the artist could approach this in a film-noir, gum shoe sort of way, or as an investigation of themselves,” said Carla Goldberg, gallery director and one of the curators for the show from the Beacon Artist Union.
To that end, some participating artists offered intimate self-portraits. Others, like Ian Addison Hall, whose paintings suggest peering into a private construction site, and Justin Carty, who shows the visage of television detective Columbo, took a more literal route.
Another artist, upstate New York resident Susan Walsh, 50, approached it in a manner informed by her father’s career as a forensic photographer. The toy gun, key chains, and other found objects displayed in her series, “Residue of Gesture,” were all dug up in backyards around the Hudson Valley.
The first object, a light switch plate, was found by Walsh’s partner in her Beacon, N.Y., garden. She was about to throw it away when Walsh stopped her, explaining that she found beauty in the mystery of the object’s origins.
“They’re so rich in association, where they were found, how they were used,” Walsh said. ““I grew up with this sensibility of looking at things and wondering what their story was.”
PRIVATE i will run through Sept. 16 at the Skylight Gallery at 538 West 29th Street.