By Charles Kessler
|BOS 2012 — Bogart Street.|
But the main reason I loved this tour, and I’ve written about this before, has to do with the spirit of collegiality in Bushwick. There’s a welcoming camaraderie that pervades the area — and it’s not the affected peace-and-love phoniness of the sixties. Rather it’s unpretentious and sincere — very different from the ironic cynicism that has been so prominent in the big-money art scene of the last decade or so.
With a tour this big, deciding where to go is a major problem — you can’t possibly do it all. The free guide was attractively designed, but at 88 pages and 14 ½ x 10 ½ inches, it was necessarily overwhelming. The website was a little more useful in that you could search for the type of art or event you might be interested in; nevertheless, narrowing things down was impossible. Most useful was a nifty free iPhone app (unfortunately no longer available — too bad, it would be a good resource). Not only could you search for types of events, but it could locate where you were and display what studios and venues were nearby. (Next year I wish they would add the ability to save favorites and note them on the map so you could plan your tour more easily.)
But even the iPhone app wasn't enough for an event this massive. According to people I talked to that were part of the tour, and my own observations, most people only went to the larger studio buildings like 56 Bogart and 1717 Troutman. It's too bad because they missed some good venues like 250 Moore Street where the Centotto gallery and the artist Tim Kent are located. I'm sure I missed plenty of good stuff.
|Tim Kent at 250 Moore Street|
|The Bushwick Starr executive director Sue Kessler (no relation), and Noel Allain, artistic director (Photo - Jared Klein, Time Out).|
Saturday was my busiest, most exhausting day. I wanted to cover a lot but didn't know how long it would take so I was really pushing it at first until I realized I could do everything I wanted to do without killing myself (and being disrespectful to the artists). I tried to concentrate more on studios than galleries which I'd be able to see another time. Nevertheless I saw a lot of gallery shows and they were terrific, possibly because they showed their best work; and several new galleries opened up for the event. (I'll be updating the Bushwick Gallery Guide soon. The old guide can still be found in the right sidebar under “Gallery and Museum Guides.”)
|Lisa Levy, Rockin' Mommy Love|
The tour started off promising. In front of 56 Bogart, Lisa Levy, costumed in a gray wig, house dress and large eyeglasses, sat in a rocking chair and offered to comfort people. After reassuring me that I wouldn’t crush her if I sat in her lap, Levy rocked and hugged me. ... It was wonderful. I loved it! I could have used it again at the end of the day, but she was gone by then.
|Oliver Warden, Untitled Box, 2010 Photos by Jo Jo Phong.|
|Charles Schultz and Charles Kessler at Cynthia Sparrenberger's studio, 56 Bogart (photo: Anne Sherwood Pundyk).|
Kesting/Ray opened a small space (bigger than their current space in Soho, however) only a couple of blocks west of 56 Bogart, but since everything else is east of 56 Bogart, I fear they might still be off the beaten track. I hope not because it's a beautifully proportioned space with lots of natural light, and they're showing good work.
|1717 Troutman is a huge loft building that had 32 studios and two galleries, Regina Rex and Parallel, on the tour.|
There were many other strong gallery exhibitions in other venues including Microscope, a serious, almost scholarly gallery when it comes to film and video (they curated a couple of film and video exhibitions for BOS), and Airplane where I saw this imposing and disconcerting sculpture:
|Jennie Shanker, Brick Shithouse, 2011, denim, sand and red shale, 36 x 36 x 36 inches (Airplane Gallery).|
|Holy BOS at the Bobby Redd Project Space, 626 Bushwick Ave.|
|This isn't an art installation, it's a hallway at 56 Bogart at the end of day one.|
One would think that by the second day, especially in the more heavily trafficked spaces, the artists wouldn't be all that friendly. They were definitely exhausted, but they were still gracious, and happy that people came by, and pleased to talk about their work. We had some lively and enthusiastic discussions.
A new gallery, Ethan Pettit Contemporary, moved to a very small space in a building with many art studios, 199 Ingraham Street. They promise to keep regular hours (noon - 7:00, Thursday thru Saturday). I saw a lot of sculpture in that building, and I particularly liked the work by studio-mates Jeanne Tremel and Eliot Markell because of the way they manage to incorporate color without making the sculptures seem to be weightless or hollow.
|Jeanne Tremel, Not Listenin' (front view), 2008, crochet thread 11 x 4 x 3 inches.|
117 Grattan Street is yet another large loft building, and this had a lot of art I liked. Sharon Butler of the excellent blog Two Coats of Paint just moved there and organized a small group show that included a few nice small paintings by Larry Greenberg of the Studio10 gallery. And Patricia Satterlee's paintings, in another studio in 117 Grattan, were rich, complicated semi-abstractions that kept me off-balance with unexpected and quirky images. I asked her what she thought of Tom Nozkowski's work since I saw a relationship there. Rather than becoming defensive, she said she loved Nozkowski's work and was delighted I thought there was a connection. This mature and sophisticated reaction was typical of the many other Bushwick artists I talked to about their work and is indicative of what I see as a favorable change in the ethos of the art world.
|Patricia Satterlee's Studio, 117 Grattan - “Gloria” series of paintings.|
|Bushwick Basel at Starr Space (Photo Alissa Guzman via Hyperallergic).|