When Rosemary Mayer passed away in 2014 at the age of seventy-one, her obituary was a glowing list of accomplishments for any artist. She illustrated epic poems from throughout history, had solo exhibitions in galleries around the world, and received art grants from governments and private philanthropists alike. She taught art history for decades, and was a well-known and loved feature of the hoi polloi in her Tribeca neighborhood, a host of garden parties and elegant private exhibitions.
Mayer and her husband, Vito Acconi, have been influential in the New York art community since the late 60s, when they were experimenting with the art of the process, and also reviewing their fellow artists for Arts Magazine. Mayer was a founding member of A.I.R. Gallery, the United States’ first artist-run gallery co-op for women.
This month, Mayer’s contributions are being honored in a show of her art from those early busy days. The show, titled “Conceptual Works and Early Fabric Sculptures, 1969-1973,” will be at Southfirst Gallery in Brooklyn. The concise little retrospective will begin with her earliest works, a series of text projects on paper. Not writing, but rather typographical experiments, mostly words typed into expanding patterns, or colorful texts in graphs.
In gradual progression, Mayer’s works first introduce texture, and then abandon the page for textiles instead. The apex of the exhibition are two of her hand-dyed fabric sculptures, “Lady of the Mercians” and “The Catherines.” The last time either of them was shown was in A.I.R. Gallery, at its inaugural show.
“Conceptual Works etc,” is a loving tribute curated by two of the artist’s family members, Marie and Max Warsh together with curator Maika Pollack. It will be in Southfirst Gallery at 60 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, until December 11, 2016. Make sure you get down to there to see the artworks before it closes—it’s unlikely that Mayer’s works will be shown together again soon, though her estate will be releasing a publication featuring excerpts from Mayer’s diary within the coming year.