Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bushwick Open Studios – Day One of Two

By Charles Kessler

This will be a chronological, mainly photographic, record of my highlights – I saw so much that it would take weeks to write about it in any detail. I sometimes got so wrapped up in conversation, or so involved with the art, that I forgot to take photos. In those cases, I'll provide a link if one is available.

This was a big tour. About 600 artists were included, and, in addition to the open studios, there were group exhibitions, performances, installations, panel discussions and, for R&R, a plethora of new good inexpensive bars and restaurants spread out over the area. And, of course, there were scores of parties before, after and during the tour. My one quibble is the BOS 2014 iPhone app didn't provide a way to select out and save the places you wanted to go to, that is, create a favorites list – but the printed guide was particularly impressive this year.
Jason Andrew at his annual "Maps-N-Mimosa" kickoff party, Norte Maar Gallery, 83 Wyckoff Avenue.
Jason Andrew is the main reason Bushwick is such a collegial art scene – and every one of the many Bushwick people I proposed this to agreed. He is gifted at bringing people together, supportive of their efforts, and his energy is infectious. He is an impresario in the best sense. He curates major exhibitions, produces dances (including the upcoming Dance at Socrates); and he organizes lectures, poetry readings and the Beat Nite tour of galleries.

Andrew is also one of the directors of Outlet Gallery, and he co-founded (with choreographer Julia K. Gleich, another supportive person) the non-profit Norte Maar, the oldest apartment gallery in Bushwick. Norte Maar's "Maps-N-Mimosa" was a perfect place to meet my friends, pick up copies of the BOS 2014 guide, and start the tour off right with mimosas, coffee and pastries.

On view at Norte Maar was Jason Andrew's private collection of work by Bushwick artists (see what I mean by supportive) including Paul D'Agostino, Kevin Curran, Ryan Michael Ford, Ben Godward, Cooper Holoweski, Andrew Hurst, Ellen Lechter, Amy Lincoln, Kristen Jensen, Brooke Moyse, Rico Gatson and new work by Norman Jabaut.
Patricia Satterlee, 117 Grattan Street.
Patricia Satterlee's studio was the first studio I went to. I figured it was a good place to begin since I've liked her work in the past. As it happened, her newest painting turned out to be my favorite work in all of BOS 2014. (I'm not counting Joyce Robins's ceramics, which I wrote about here, because they're at the THEODORE:Art Gallery and so not technically in BOS.) This is the first painting Satterlee made after recovering from shoulder surgery, and it seems like all those months of bottled up energy, and all those ideas were just poured into it. This is the kind of masterful painting that looks simple, but it's done with a large body of hard-earned painting knowledge.

Björn Meyer-Ebrecht's Communal Table, 1182 Flushing Avenue.
Sculptor Björn Meyer-Ebrecht brought together the work of a dozen other sculptors and sensitively arranged them in his studio on this exquisite table that he made (it looks like a colorful floor in the photo, but it's raised a few feet off the ground).

Rob Zeller, 117 Grattan Street.
Zeller's past paintings were beautiful, but fairly academic portraits. He's stretching a bit in this new work, and I think he may be on to something.

Jersey City based Shua Group does installations and movement-oriented performance. I recently wrote about one of their installations here. They had two beautiful and profound installations on Grattan Street, around the corner from 56 Bogart where the biggest BOS crowds were. Black Igloo (below) was dark inside, but a small hole on top created a bright beam of light; if someone else entered, more light would flicker in. People entering on their hands and knees would bump into other people until their eyes adjusted to the dark, and they would grope their way toward the back where there was a block of ice in a pool of water that surprised and delighted them. The environment felt like a place for holy rituals; there was something of the primitive and archetypal about it.
Shua Group, Black Igloo, on the street across from the Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan Street.
In apparent reference to ecological excess, co-director (with Joshua Bisset) Laura Quattrocchi was buried in plastic bottles (see below).
Shua Group, Poolastic, on the street across from the Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan Street.
When the pool was full, Quattrocchi "swam" to the surface, and other members of the Shua Group cannonballed in creating a great splash of plastic bottles and a lot of excitement from the crowd. The public was encouraged to jump in and "swim" around.
Shua Group, Poolastic, on the street across from the Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan Street.
Legend Anew, a group show at Centotto Gallery, 250 Moore Street. 
Centotto is an apartment gallery run by another supportive Bushwick impresario – Paul D'Agostino, Ph.D. He is a brilliant artist/curator/writer/poet/translator/athlete (did I miss anything?). This exhibition included work from about forty artists mainly from Bushwick. The dark horizontal painting in the middle is an early work by Fred Valentine (who recently received a much deserved Guggenheim), and it's a real beauty.

Jeanne Tremel's installation in her studio, the Brooklyn Fire Proof building, 119 Ingraham Street.

I've admired the work of Jeanne Tremel (above) and her husband Eliot Markell (below), and I've been following it for several years. I wasn't disappointed at this studio visit. Both have pushed their art along, exploring new things and renewing old directions. In September, Jeanne Tremel, I'm pleased to say, will be doing an installation in Jersey City at the Drawing Rooms. 

Eliot Markell sculptures in his studio, the Brooklyn Fire Proof building, 119 Ingraham Street.

I didn't stay for all of Being Bushwick, the BOS performance art showcase, but what I saw, except for the dancer in the photo above, who's name wasn't available, I was disappointed in. I found it amateurish, frankly. 
Being Bushwick, Performance Art Showcase, 195 Morgan Avenue. 
195 Morgan, the former 3rd Ward space, had an enormous exhibition, Do It Yourself, actually ten separate exhibitions with a total of more than 60 artists, that was curated by different people from across the country. I'm sorry to say that by this time I was fried, and my eyes felt like they were floating in my head. I scanned the shows unable to appreciate anything, and I took no photos. Sorry.

BUT Brooklyn Brewery provided beer, and a restaurant in the building, Fitzcarraldo (see photo below) provided free barbecued chicken. I was able to have a much needed R&R before I headed home. 

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