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Molly Crabapple's Tribute to 2011 Uprisings Coming to Lower East Side

By Elizabeth Barber | April 12, 2013 8:17am

LOWER EAST SIDE — German Shepherds wearing gas masks. Bunny rabbits taking cell phone videos. A fat cat floating away, borne aloft by a single red balloon.

All are tiny scenes in artist Molly Crabapple’s chaotic, richly colorful tributes to 2011, a year in which the world’s disaffected took to the streets in protest of the status quo. Called "Shell Game," the series of nine 4-foot-by-6-foot paintings is due to go on view Sunday at the Smart Clothes Gallery, on the Lower East Side.

Crabapple, who was arrested for her participation in Occupy Wall Street, began painting in February of 2012, after Zuccotti Park was emptied and as the world waited to find out what would come of the uprisings and their strange mix of jubilation and fear, optimism and cynicism.

“I want people to remember that this happened,” said Crabapple, who calls the works her "love letter to 2011."

Each painting memorializes a different uprising from 2011, from the Tunisian revolution, to Occupy Wall Street, to Greece’s anti-austerity protests, to the riots in England. Based on interviews with local activists, the works also bring an imaginative spin to the events of two years ago, focusing on the rebelliousness that underpinned each challenge to power.

“There’s definitely a sense of the absurd in my work,” said Crabapple. “It’s both hyper-detailed and chaotic.”

The exhibit will launch with an opening from 7 to 10 p.m. on April 14 at 154 Stanton St.