Artist Asha Ganpat stands with her work in “Booty” at 73 See Gallery. COURTESY GIOYA MCRAE

By Asha Ganpat
Through Nov. 5

73 See Gallery
73 C Pine St.

For Montclair Local

Trinidad-born Montclair resident Asha Ganpat has been selling her art since fifth grade. Ganpat knew as far back as kindergarten that she wanted to be an artist and a professor, and has accomplished both goals.

“Lure,” made of copper, plastic, glass, and 24k gold carved cards, is on display at 73 See Gallery. COURTESY 73 SEE GALLERY

Speaking of the first work she created, Ganpat said, “In fifth grade I sold a cubist portrait of a woman’s face in red. The collector said he was confident that he made a really good investment. If the painting looks the way I remember it, I don’t know what he saw.”

Ganpat’s current exhibit, at the 73 See Gallery on Pine St., reveals what the collector saw: The collection, named “Booty,” highlights her talents and the public’s greed.

Shortly before a reception at the Gallery before the opening on Sept. 23, the author artist explained her concept: “Booty is about gold. It’s about that which we value that maybe doesn’t have any value other than we want it.

“It refers to a pirating term where you want it so you take it. We have, as humans, a very strong relationship of that sort with the world around us. We want things and then we take them.”

The exhibit, which runs through Nov. 5, includes an intriguing mix of artwork. “Liquids” is a collection of 30 compositions of

“Altar Triptych,” made of woven iron and glass, represents dead snakes and a sacrifical knife. COURTESY 73 SEE GALLERY

liquids, graphite and gold leaf on paper. “Wishes” are edible sculptures made of sugar and gold.

Although the artwork Ganpat would say she is most proud of would probably change by the hour or the day, in this exhibition, she said, she favors “Altar,” a triptych of ritualistic objects.

Even for an artist as prolific as Ganpat, challenges arise. The hardest, she said, is “finding time to make the work, a good place that will let your mind get to the business of it. Most of … art-making is really a philosophical thing, a bunch of decisions about the visual conversation you want to have with the viewer when you’re not going to be able to be there.”

Because the artist’s heritage is primarily Indian and German with some French, Irish and English in the mix, race plays a part in her work. “It reflects in my art because of my place in the stratosphere of the imaginary thing of race. Because it doesn’t really exist, we just make a thing of it. I suppose it maybe opens some doors and closes some others,” she said.

Disparity in the art world frustrates her: “I guess there are a lot of great things and a lot of frustrating things. Definitely still the inequalities in exhibitions. A big pet peeve for me is that we are still seeing the same groups marginalized. Women are still getting fewer shows. Women are in fewer collections. People who don’t come from wealthy backgrounds tend to have to really struggle.”

“Sprinkler,” graphite and gold leaf on paper, is part of Ganpat’s “Booty.” COURTESY 73 SEE GALLERY

As with many creative people, Ganpat’s creative energy is not limited to visual art. She also writes micro fiction, short stories of 1,000 words or less, “because I’m impatient and I like to be done,” and enjoys karaoke.

Ganpat also prefers making art to having it. Art as booty is not for her. She said with a smile, “I like to look at art, but I don’t like to have to take care of it. I like looking at art. I want it to keep existing. I want access to it. Someone else can take care of it.”

Fortunately for art lovers, Ganpat does not experience the creative blocks many artists endure. “I’m very lucky. I would never have enough time to make anywhere near the number of ideas that I have.”

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