‘Talking Landscape: Early Media Work, 1974-1984’


Chicago-born Andrea Callard, among the first wave of Tribeca artist-settlers in the early ’70s, loved to find the country in the city. Several of her Super 8 short films from that period on view at her Maysles tribute (which also includes slide shows of her hand-colored print collages) reveal nature’s splendor in the most unlikely places: Notes on Ailanthus is a reverential précis of the tree of the title, known as the “tree of heaven” or, as the filmmaker reminds us, “the tree that grows in Brooklyn.” Fluorescent/Azalea juxtaposes the soul-crushing overhead lighting of Manhattan office towers with the blazing primary colors of Gotham’s plants and flowers—which have a larger starring role in Flora Funera (for Battery Park City). When Callard appears in front of the camera, as she does in 11 Thru 12 and Lispenard Ladder, she’s a droll presence, cracking wise about National Geographic in the former and eternally ascending and descending in the latter. Climbing ladders, however, had little place in Colab, the artists’ collective Callard helped form in 1977. It was “a group with diverse ideas about hierarchy,” she notes in the voiceover accompanying the slides of “The Times Square Show,” a Colab-sponsored exhibition mounted in the summer of 1980 at a building at 41st Street and Seventh Avenue—an area teeming with its own soon-to-be-extinct flora and fauna.