nyc art scene

a carefully curated calendar & cumulative catalog of new york city's most interesting art exhibitions and events. hand picked by Arthur Seen & Team

nycARTscene Interview: Dennis McNett

Dennis McNett’s woodblock prints, installations and sculptures are visual narrations of intricate mythologies and often inspire crowds to participate in elaborate outdoor rituals.

TODAY (Saturday, June 22), McNett will be leading an outdoor event & indoor exhibition on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The outdoor component (2pm-6pm Sara D Roosevelt Park at Broome St., NYC) is a workshop and summer jam, with live music and free goodies for those 17 & under.

An indoor reception for his “Anti-Hero” series will be held at The Lodge Gallery (131 Chrystie St., NYC) from 6-8pm.

nycARTscene contributor Jilli Bean leads us in conversation with the artist:

JB: It is clear that your art is a result of a fierce imagination. Borrowing from Greek and Norse myths, Mexican muertos, and the animal kingdom, you have synthesized your own personal mythology into an idiosyncratic style that is deeply profound. What was your early childhood like growing up in Virginia Beach to inspire such a unique vision?

DM: I grew up by the ocean and used to surf and watch the water. I would get lost in the patterns across the waves, the texture of the sand, and the shoreline breathing in and out. When I was a teen I got into hallucinogens. I definitely had some altered reality experiences that probably influence some of my aesthetic and the way I view things. Skateboarding was a huge influence as well. The graphics, raw energy, music surrounding it, were all a huge influence. I got into a lot of trouble too.  

JB: You once stated that you had a pet Timber Wolf from the ages of 18-20. Could you explain what it was like living with a wolf in Brooklyn and how this wolf inspired your work?

DM: I had my timber wolf in Virginia. I would never have even a dog in the city. It’s not fair. She was amazing. They are not like dogs. They are way more intelligent, aware of your every mannerism, consider you pack, and are very expressive in their actions. When she was angry or intimidated she wouldn’t growl or bark like a dog. She would through her front feet down, bristle up the fur on her back, roll her lips up to expose her teeth, and be dead silent. When she was calm, she would look like she was in trance. I’ve just always connected and have been drawn to wolves.


JB: You have orchestrated incredible happenings/ performances/parades around America including resurrecting Nordic giants on West Broadway, Dragon slaying in Oklahoma, and Parades of Viking Ships and spirits in Philadelphia and Kansas City. If you had unlimited funds to create something in the Lower East Side what would you produce?

DM: Wow. That would be amazing. I would probably orchestrate a huge ceremonial parade that encompassed all ethnicities, cultures, and walks of life from the LES. A moving breathing art piece that anyone could contribute to and that pulsed with music, howls, and dances. Maybe it would end in a Wolfbat ceremony with fire….. a cleansing of sorts with huge movable sculptures, floats, handmade everything (maybe from workshops with kids leading up to it), masks, drumming, and chaos.

JB: A lot of your work draws from nature, what is it about the urban environment of New York that keeps you here and inspired?

DM: I ask myself that daily and never really come up with a good answer. Something about this place pushes me to do more, better, and evolve. It’s so tough trying to live here off of my work, but I don’t know that I could get the same opportunities or energy elsewhere.  I also leave here quite often.


JB: Your work often captures the spirit of close friends and admired figures. How do you envision your spirit to be captured?

DM: You can’t capture a Wolfbat. They are never still, kinetic, and cut through time like hot knife through butter.

Dennis McNett: wolfbat.com

The Lodge Gallery: thelodgegallery.com 131 Chrystie St., NYC

Jilli Bean: collectivecraftnyc.com





Opens Feb 27, 6-9p: “No Sun without Shadow”Lu Magnus, 55 Hester St., NYCa group show featuring Jonathan Allen, Chitra Ganesh, Kate Gilmore, Fawad Khan, Emily Noelle Lambert, Jean-Pierre Roy, and Kristen Schiele. Combining mythology and philosophy, the artists use the figure in their works of various media – video, drawing, collage, and painting – to illustrate the burden of the artist and the process of art making. - thru Mar 24

Opens Feb 27, 6-9p:

No Sun without Shadow

Lu Magnus, 55 Hester St., NYC

a group show featuring Jonathan Allen, Chitra Ganesh, Kate Gilmore, Fawad Khan, Emily Noelle Lambert, Jean-Pierre Roy, and Kristen Schiele. Combining mythology and philosophy, the artists use the figure in their works of various media – video, drawing, collage, and painting – to illustrate the burden of the artist and the process of art making. - thru Mar 24

Opens Thurs, Apr 19, 6-8p: Niki de Saint PhalleVicky David Gallery, 522 W23rd St., NYCan exhibition of artworks by the French-American sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle, a key figure of the New Realism movement. Fascinated with primitive arts and legendary myths, she reinvests them by giving them a raw but poetic tone. Nature and animal kingdom are omnipresent in her work. - thru June 30

Opens Thurs, Apr 19, 6-8p:

 Niki de Saint Phalle

Vicky David Gallery, 522 W23rd St., NYC

an exhibition of artworks by the French-American sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle, a key figure of the New Realism movement. Fascinated with primitive arts and legendary myths, she reinvests them by giving them a raw but poetic tone. Nature and animal kingdom are omnipresent in her work. - thru June 30

Tomorrow, Apr 15, 6-10p:Duke Riley in China”The Rematch”Magnan Metz Gallery, 521 W26th St., NYCBROADCAST BEGINS AT 8PMDuke Riley — a Brooklyn artist known for his nautical spectacles, staging dramatic naval battles and piloting guerrilla submarines - is in China recreating a legendary mythological race between the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac working with local artists in the suburbs of Shanghai.According to Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor initiated the zodiac in order to organize the measurement of time. The first 12 animals to cross the mighty river in a competitive race would each receive a year of the zodiac. The rat and the cat, both poor swimmers, persuaded the gullible ox to carry them across. As the ox began to lead the pack, the rat pushed the cat overboard and jumped off the ox to win the race alone. Hence, the first year of the zodiac was bestowed upon the cheating rat.

Tomorrow, Apr 15, 6-10p:

Duke Riley in China
The Rematch

Magnan Metz Gallery, 521 W26th St., NYC
BROADCAST BEGINS AT 8PM

Duke Riley — a Brooklyn artist known for his nautical spectacles, staging dramatic naval battles and piloting guerrilla submarines - is in China recreating a legendary mythological race between the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac working with local artists in the suburbs of Shanghai.

According to Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor initiated the zodiac in order to organize the measurement of time. The first 12 animals to cross the mighty river in a competitive race would each receive a year of the zodiac. The rat and the cat, both poor swimmers, persuaded the gullible ox to carry them across. As the ox began to lead the pack, the rat pushed the cat overboard and jumped off the ox to win the race alone. Hence, the first year of the zodiac was bestowed upon the cheating rat.

Opens Mar 29, 6-8p:

"_ S E C R E T . H I S T O R Y"
 Serban Ionescu

Bridge Gallery, 98 Orchard St., NYC

Serban Ionescu‘s pictorial inventions straddle the space between comedy, tragedy, bazaar and romanticism. A hybridization of classical and contemporary influence, the work demonstrates a distinctive style. Ionescu’s vision of Romanian folklore, alchemy and mythology mixed with reverberations of early childhood under Ceausescu’s Romania. A crossroads for the supernaturally tinged parts commingled with popular culture: hammer horror in one direction, utopian dreams that never were, in another, sinister resonances, uncanny dissonances and the world beyond. Serban Ionescu’s unique new works make the world seem exuberant. Ionescu’s paintings, drawings and sculptures contain quirky, amusing imagery along with a painterly abstraction.  In the midst of our time when purposeful intent is frequently considered dead, or if not dead then at least a failure at communicating anything of importance to society, works like Ionescu’s remind everyone about the vitality art can have in the service of an individualistic vision. - thru May 7