O’Flaherty’s group art show in New York was Manhattan’s hottest opening with hundreds in attendance

Art brings people together…and tears them apart. Such was the case at the opening of O’Flaherty’s summer group exhibition on Thursday 14 July.

“The Patriot” is an open-call submission project in which artists of all mediums and abilities were invited to deposit their pieces – the smallest, the best – at the gallery at 55 Avenue C in the week leading up to the show. Over 700 works of art line the walls and ceiling of O’Flaherty and are only fully visible with a flashlight as they are displayed in the dark.

“We literally took whatever shit you brought in, whether it was awesome or totally trash and tried to make it into an idea,” reads a press release from O’Flaherty’s. “The Patriot is a truly democratic show where everyone is treated equally as crap.”

In what is now dubbed more of a “shitty show” than an art exhibition, the opening was hugely popular, attracting around 1,000 spectators lining the Alphabet City blocks surrounding the small gallery. That’s a lot of frustrated artists outside on a summer evening. And so, the NYPD came to break up the crowd and the opening night of The Patriot, scheduled until August 10.

“Thank you, go home,” gallerist Jamian Juliano-Villani shouted to the crowd through a megaphone as he was surrounded by uniformed NYPD officers Thursday night. “Move, motherfuckers, move, thank you,” she added to cheers from art fans. “We love you,” someone shouted back.

Twenty-nine-year-old artist Marissa Graziano, who had a part in the show with what appears to be the rest of the metro area, was grab a drink around the corner and heard there was a unified line around two blocks, “which I found both hilarious and interesting,” she said.

When I arrived around 9 p.m., the line had dissolved into a massive crowd that spilled out into the street,” she adds. “The wristbands that got you to Nublu were handed out as people broke the beers they brought with them. There were a few good rumors floating around about what was going on inside: a floor hanging in the gallery, Abraham Lincoln’s bloodstained pillow from his assassination on display… the cops shut it all down about half an hour later.

“It was a beautiful shit show,” recalls 30-year-old BARC artist The Dog, whose work is featured in The Patriot. “I really admire the attitude and energy that Jamian brings to the art world. End the chaos in the best way possible. It was a crazy experience.”

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