Recently in conversation with Manhattan’s art “Lobbyist” and BACP (Building Art Curatorial Program) Founder, Cindy Glanzrock, I was stunned by images of what seemed to be mossy rocks from a Japanese garden installed inside of a monotone building lobby in midtown Manhattan. The works, I learned, are by renowned sculptor and artist, Nathan Slate Joseph, and are installed in the lobby of 270 Madison Avenue. In fact, these found object-looking pieces are from his riveting Unigami series of copper works. Slate Joseph breaks down and ages his pieces through an organic, painstaking process that results in works that appear almost hyper-natural. This unique aging process involves placing the shining copper sculptures outside, exposing them to the elements and coaxing them with acids, all the while painting a natural progression of the object. The deft capturing of nature in all of her glory is what makes Slate Joseph’s works so precious and unprecedented.
Cindy shared the experience she had visiting with Slate Joseph at his studios in Brooklyn and Sagaponack, NY (The Hamptons). The artist was gracious and thorough, walking Cindy through his creations, sharing an up-close look at his weathered artworks. Slate Joseph’s copper works are crafted into organic, natural shapes and placed outside of
his studio, exposed to the elements – where everyday they shift, evoking new experiences. The continual aging and weathering of these pieces makes them truly shine.
Listening to her conversations with Slate Joseph, I could tell Cindy was fired-up about placing these industrial, sculptural pieces in the lobby at 270 Madison Avenue. As I entered the lobby, my eyes were immediately drawn to what appeared to be his signature pure blue pigment on galvanized steel, crowning the lobby’s entryway. Between the rich indigo hues of the painted galvanized steel and the rustic, copper Unigami sculptures below, the lobby was unrecognizable from the earlier photos Cindy had showed me prior to this installation.
Standing on its own, the lobby is nondescript and blase’. You wouldn’t notice it from any other building that you walked by in Manhattan. From the uninspired, beige marble to the chrome accents, the lobby could function as the backdrop to any 80’s sitcom entryway. Now filled with Slate Joseph’s mesmerizing works, the lobby has undergone a rejuvenating, “artistic facelift” and has taken on a new, vibrant energy. The richly invigorating blue plates above the lobby desk infuse the space with a colorful element, while the artist’s meditative Unigami shapes, which are reflected in a tasteful mirror, beckon visitors to approach.
Nathan Slate Joseph’s work adds a distinguished and delightful presence to the lobby at 270 Madison. With work both polished and playful, the entryway has become a place of joy and discovery. It comes as no surprise that Slate Joseph’s work has such a captivating effect on the viewer as he has been creating art for over 50 years – works that have been displayed at art shows, museums, and embassies worldwide. It’s safe to say that Nathan Slate Joseph is a master of his trade, an artist able to create work that is subtly superior. Represented by Sundaram Tagore and covered by the likes of Artnet and the International Sculpture Center, Slate Joseph’s work has captured the imagination of art collectors and admirers worldwide.
Be sure to visit his Unigami sculptures while they are still on view as new works will be rotating into the space during the NYC Art Fairs.
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