An important part of Bushwick’s appeal to me is that a bunch of post grad artists of varying interests can still manage to scrape along learning the hard lessons of an art making lifestyle. Those few lucky enough to get through the early struggles of an art career will learn the true meaning of dedication, and have poignant memories of Bushwick’s golden era.
There are elder statespeople in Bushwick that have provided a key role by instituting infrastructure to support a youth movement. Debra Brown, Jason Andrew, and Fred Valentine have pitched in with grass roots exhibition spaces that forego the traditional model of “representing” artists to show an ongoing selection of a wide range of age and experience.
Burr Dodd’s bold entrepreneurial endeavors have made his Temporary Storage exhibition and performance space, along with the Brooklyn Fire Proof Café, into a salon style beehive of artistic interaction.
3rd Ward has evolved into “The College of Bushwick” with a variety of distinguished curricula including innovative courses such as “drink ‘n draw”.
But I find the real spirit of a freeform interchange of artists and exhibitions in Bushwick is encapsulated by the plethora of informal group shows and studio art seen before, during, and after Bushwick Open Studios. Although BOS is the annual nexus of activity, the premise of an art scene unencumbered by a big money collector base and over priced real estate permeates an atmosphere of potentiality.
In light of this lively ‘hood I’m including a brief synopsis of a few of the more groovy efforts I’ve seen recently:
“Resurrection” put together by James Prez at Active Space.
Making the best of Active Spaces’s fluorescent lighting that tends to bleach out the window-less and harsh white architecture, Resurrection managed to fill out and warm the room.
Although I’m not sure how the title related to this decidedly athletic looking group of largely 3D art pieces (perhaps the bare boned nature of some the sculpture by the likes of JP Larson, dug up and reborn?), but it doesn’t really matter. If you know James, then you know its all about eclectic, and this exhibit certainly fit that Prez aesthetic.
The space is anchored by Matt Miller’s crudely carved blocks of styrofoam that have been melted or otherwise mutated in what might have been a chemistry experiment gone awry. Slapped on paint just adds to the gee wiz bang of these manly art chunks.
Miller’s smaller scale pieces then turn the table on bravado and display his sensitive side. The wavy grid mounted on top of a photographic image magnifies an intimate reference to portraiture. This distorting manipulation could connote an aged connection to relics long past, while suggesting bad reception on an old TV.
On the gentler side of the gender geneses Rachel Hayes’ rolls of delicately transparent fabric flow gracefully into the room, conjuring up Tibetan prayer flags fluttering towards a rarified realm.
The clunky, yet intricate jumble of clothes hangers by Bridget Mullen teeters down to the floor making a Klee-like clatter, and good use of the assigned cubicle.
Art Guerra, "Slippery At Dusk" at Sugar.
At the deep end of the generational pool is the primordially elegant monochrome of Art Guerra. Ostensibly paintings, these glowery meditations on nocturnal quietude, could also cloak a reference to fashionably luscious eveningwear. The sparkly spirit of Liberace might be lurking beneath those obtuse monoliths.
Guerra is well known among pigment aficionados as the purveyor and professor of rare and precious colored powders and concentrates that may be assembled into actual artist paint. This esoteric practice has merged nicely into the substance of the artist’s method. Ironically enough, you won’t find brushstrokes in these formal and somewhat imperious compendiums of pigment. Guerra’s mysterious process incorporates glass beads to produce juicy, yet serene dimensions of chromatic purity that could extend inward towards fluid biology, or move forcefully into a concrete realm reminiscent of sculptural relief.
Apparently Gwendolyn Skaggs who’s the brainchild behind Sugar, likes to find unique ways to present the art she exhibits. In this case Guerra’s stretchers were propped up off the floor on small oak pedestals so that the works leaned against the wall. I liked the way that magnified the weighty mass of art.
A list of Guerra’s ingredients:
Canvas, acrylic, urethane, glass beads, tire rubber, interference and magic effect pigments, pigment dispersions.
Katherine Powers, Schmatte at Store Front.
schmatte (from the Polish szmata): a Yiddish word meaning rag, old garment, an item of clothing in fashion and clothing-industry slang.
The clever moniker for Storefront’s backroom project space belies a marvelous radiance of freshness that emanates from Power’s light and airy collage. The plethora of interpretive references range from Rorschach-like symmetry, to a banner deconstruction of late Matisse cut outs. Actually assembled in 8 different plastic envelopes, this collage within 8 collages still unifies gracefully into an elusive totality not unlike the way clouds morph in the minds eye.
This is what Bushwick should be all about, giving credence to the finest of art that might otherwise remain unseen in a preoccupied art world that all to often lets unspoiled beauty go unnoticed.