June 10th – August 6th

Opening: Thursday, June 9th, 7-9pm 

NEW LOCATION: 312 Bowery, New York City 10012

Smile! It’s the first New York solo exhibition by Miami duo FriendsWithYou entitled “ 🙂 ”. This summer, FriendsWithYou will fill our new and roomy Bowery space with a crowd of smiling faces and an interactive, experiential wonderland of pop-straction and participation. 🙂 is presented in collaboration with Native Shoes.

Past the spinning neon candies in our storefront windows, you will find a garden of colorful beings raise up around you. Skip over smiling puddles on the gallery floor to see giggle sticks, smirking smoke flumes, splat-happy wall works and a grinning ghost or two. In the left rear gallery, kinetic painting blink at you from the walls and painted heads will roll. In the right rear gallery, a massive chandelier of an inflatable sculpture fills the room with energy and light.

FriendsWithYou is Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III who formed their collective in 2002 on a mission to spread the idea of Magic, Luck and Friendship around the world. Forging their own brand of pop-ped and cartooning visual language a la Murakami, Arturo Herrera, Yayoi Kusama, etc, FWY take a spiritual and serene approach to form and figure. Their reductive and simplified use of geometric abstraction always contains a special injection of amusement: for example, some art historical winks are literally winking at you. Taking Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics to heart and hand, these artists make art that activates the social interaction of people as exploded and refracted by the internet and elaborate new modes of interpersonal relationships.

FriendsWithYou’s most important artistic tactic to foster these relationships is the use of play. By reinterpreting religious traditions, symbols and spiritual practices, FWY invert these solemn and serious ideas through play to open up a connection to the divine. Many FriendsWithYou works look like toys because they are meant for play, a tool for unstructured free association and interaction. Their sculptures and paintings, inflatables and objects are meant to trigger the buried, neglected urges and yearnings that a seasoned art viewer may not expect to have activated; playfulness, laughter and inquisitiveness.

This exhibition is just part of FriendsWithYou New York City cultural ambassadorship tour: 30th St and 10th Avenue is the site of another friendship taking place, as the group’s enormous and ebullient bouncing inflatable sculptures, Rainbow City, presented by AOL, breathe a puff of fun air into the West Side. The site will also feature an exclusive pop-up shop featuring FriendsWithYou and AOL collaborative gear: AOL’s presentation of Rainbow City in NYC this summer is the latest affirmation of AOL’s commitment to supporting creativity.  Also, spot them strap hanging on the subway in their bouncy huggable outfits or visiting the Statue of Liberty and other New York City landmarks.

Throughout the last ten years, FriendsWithYou has gained international recognition as pioneers in the field of experiential art. Starting out sewing art toys by hand, the duo has grown into much larger than life projects, yet their toy-like art style remains. FriendsWithYou installations are fully immersive experiences that draw audiences into a magical world where the line between imagination and reality is blurred. From Art Basel in Miami to Pictoplasma in Berlin, FriendsWithYou has been invited to participate in some of the most respected international art happenings. Their fine art has been exhibited and/or included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), Haus der Kulturen der Welt Museum in Berlin, Art Gallery of Western Australia, and Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, among others. In the future, FriendsWithYou plans to continue to spread its happy message around the world and become Friends-With-You!

The 🙂 gallery exhibition is presented in collaboration with Native Shoes, whose exuberant footwear will have a specially Friend-ed display in our shop, Holey Books: FriendsWithYou will be creating a Native Pop-Up Shop which will be open to the public daily through August 6th, 2011.  Native is a Canadian brand based in Vancouver, B.C. with strong ties to an international creative community. Inspired by classic, casual silhouettes, the Native aesthetic captures a look that is familiar yet totally new. Easy on the eyes and on the feet, Native shoes are for anybody, anywhere, anytime. Native Shoes’ collaboration in bringing you “:)” is the second major collaboration with the artists FriendsWithYou. Native – Keep It Lite!