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Chelsea Exhibit Puts Cities on the Wall

By DNAinfo Staff on January 7, 2011 6:10pm  | Updated on January 7, 2011 5:59pm

By Jennifer Glickel

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CHELSEA — A new exhibit puts urban landscapes on display with the strokes of a brush and the marks of a pen.

"From the Land of the Pleasant Living" is a new exhibit at Benrimon Contemporary Gallery on West 24th Street featuring the work of mixed media artist Amanda Burnham.

Burnham lined the walls of the Chelsea gallery with both drawings and an installation of urban American landscapes. Working primarily on site when creating her drawings, Burnham's representations of familiar city scenes, like crosswalk signs and gas stations, show the city as one that is lived in and affected by its inhabitants.

"I'm interested in elements of the urban landscape that are used for different purposes than they were intended and the way that the people that move through the environment affect them," Burnham said.

"I'm really drawn to things that occur accidentally or weren't planned by people who are part of the urban environment. City planners don't have ultimate control over how cities and their elements are used."

One such example is "Lone Wolf," in which Burnham shows a car that has been rear-ended, about which the artist said she was depicting something "you're not supposed to look at."

Burnham also uses scrambled lettering on the signs she depicts in her work to challenge the viewer's natural sense of environment, such as in her multimedia installation. The installation lines three of the gallery's walls with painted and drawn representations of urban materials like brick and chain link and traffic signs with the letters scrambled.

"I want people to question their relationship to the installation work and, although it points to the type of environment with which people will be familiar with the signs, the viewer's understanding of the space is still subverted by the altered text," Burnham said.

"From the Land of the Pleasant Living" is on view at Benrimon Contemporary from Jan. 6 – 28. The gallery is located at 514 W. 24th St. between 10th and 11th Avenues.