Friends with Benefits…for Life: New Web Series Comes to Bushwick

by Veronica Dakota

Image copyright of “Friends with Benefit for Life”

As recent online-only series have demonstrated, neither television nor cable is necessary for a program to be successful. Indeed, if “High Maintenance,” a NYC-based Vimeo-hosted Web series recently profiled in the New Yorker, is any indication, then D.I.Y. tactics may be the new model for quality programs. It is in this spirit that “Friends with Benefits for Life" reaches us.

Filmed entirely in Bushwick, “Friends with Benefits for Life” is a new Web series whose approach to production is as unconventional as the love and relationships it explores. Its main characters, Ben and Anna, are “roommates who became friends, who then became friends with benefits, and then…they had a kid, and so the benefits were for life." Director John Reaves has provided Arts in Bushwick with an exclusive look at this new series (for the trailer, click here).

Reaves notes, “a number of scenes were shot at Cobra Club and they have been a huge resource/help in the process of trying to get this made.” Further extending their support, the Cobra Club will be hosting the premiere of “Friends with Benefits for Life” this Wednesday, 1 October, at 8PM, when all three 10-minute episodes will be screened. Because admission is free, money can instead by spent on the evening’s drink special, appropriately called the “Friend with Benefit.” With a live DJ on hand, this evening provides a golden opportunity to support a local creative initiative.


The Cobra Club is located at 6 Wyckoff Avenue, steps from the Jefferson L stop. The premiere/screening of “Friends with Benefits for Life” will begin at 8PM, this Wednesday, 1 October

BOS14 Closing Party @ Bizarre

by Nicole Durbin and Aniela Coveleski; photos by Aniela Coveleski


After three days of trekking across more than 600 studios from Metropolitan Avenue to Broadway, Arts in Bushwick organizers, participants, and inexhaustible friends and party people gathered at Bizarre for some well-deserved drinks. After Cinema Sunday wrapped up, AiB organizers gathered outside for a deep breath and a chance to reflect on the weekend. Lucia Rollow, Alex Spinks, and others spoke with untamed relief about how this year’s BOS had gone off without the stressors that have occasionally plagued previous years’ events. The AiB organization had raised enough money this year to fully finance printing of the hundreds of glossy Open Studios directories, the iPhone app was amazingly functional, and the mood across our neighborhood-wide block party was astoundingly positive all weekend long.


BOS Studio Visit: Laina Terpstra

by Nicole Durbin


[AiB] I just wandered in for Bushwick Open Studios 2014, and I’d love to hear how you introduce your work to a new audience.

[LT] I graduated from Sarah Lawrence a year ago, and I’ve been painting my whole life, practically. Recently I’ve been doing a series working from old masters, where I’ve been abstracting them to a really fundamental movement and kinesthetic response, based on light and movement. I have a dance background as well, so I think that feeds the work a lot.

[AiB] When you’re working from the old masters, how do you decide which elements to retain?

[LT] Usually I start with the background which is more geometric and just lay in the forms. Then I’ll go over it with one sweeping stroke, which represents the organic figurative element. I usually work them for a long time. Do one, then erase it. Do it again, then erase it. It’s a process of getting to know the image really deeply. I just see it as a contemporary take, almost objectifying [the original works] as a pure visual and sensual experience.


Left: Painting by Terpstra. Right: Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez.

The Technology of Imagination: Artcade 3000

by Aniela Coveleski; photography by Jan-Luc Van Damme; edited by Willow Goldstein


Character selection in “Crystal Brawl”

The fight to have video games be considered art in mainstream society is a battle that is fairly new and not often discussed outside of niche circles. Despite some serious critics, video games are beginning to enter the realm of fine art. While media coverage is still limited, select mainstream institutions, including MOMA and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, have begun collecting and exhibiting video games. With a desire to abate my own naivety, I visited Artcade 3000, organized by Jan-Luc Van Damme, which showcased a seamless combination of art and technical skill among a community of game developers.


Jan-Luc Van Damme with vintage consoles at Artcade 3000 

During his 13 years in Bushwick, Van Damme has watched the neighborhood grow. Admittedly his favorite weekend of the year, Bushwick Open Studios is a time that he can show off his current work in location-based gaming, which is when, through the use of smartphones and GPS technology, players report their physical locations in the world and the gameplay progresses accordingly, but also allows him to let people explore an environment that can’t be found in other studios. This unique space merges high art with entertainment art to create a space where, as Jan says, “art can be fun and interactive!”

Kind of a Push/Pull: BOS Studio Visit with Ariel Zakarison

by Nicole Durbin


[AiB] I just wandered in off the street, and I don’t know anything special about your work. What do you want me to know about what you do?

[AZ] I do collage work. It’s a combination of media. There are photographic elements, some lithography, and intaglio prints that are collaged onto it. Airbrush…different kinds of mediums give the substrate some interesting surfaces. There’s oil paint on top of everything else—it’s a melange of different things. I’m trying to mix things up and have some interesting accidents happen.


[AiB] Can you tell me a little about your process?

[AZ] I work in layers and I go back and forth; it’s not super linear. I put the collage material on first, typically, and then I’ll do airbrushing over that. Then maybe some more collage stuff…slather a bunch of mediums and things for the surface on top of that. And then more airbrushing, then a lot of scraping, and I sand some things away so it’s kind of a push/pull, adding and removing.

Art for Whom? The Institution in Perspective

by Willow Goldstein


The Role of Art and Funding panel discussion at BOS’14

What happens when Ben Davis, Hrag Vartanian, Deborah Brown, and Natalia Nakazawa join a panel to discuss the intersection of art and funding? A lively debate over the role of the individual versus the institution in a power struggle for the coveted available funding. The third AiB panel, The Role of Art and Funding Progress, took place at Brooklyn Fire Proof East in conjunction with Bushwick Open Studios on June 2, 2014. In addition to the four panelists, moderator Alexis Clements provided structure and guidance in a sometimes heated debate.

Spanning subjects from the Rheingold development in Bushwick to the current standing of the Brooklyn Museum, the conversation often become polarized as individual areas of interest and awareness took center stage. Institutional critique, in particular, became a major theme: Clements challenged the notion that museums are for the people, asking “Accessibility for whom?”—do museums intend to serve their communities or do they exist for another purpose? Such questions led to a conversation on the historical role of the museum and how that role has, and has not, changed to reflect contemporary needs.   

The Journey and Art of Scott Dennis

by Catherine Kirkpatrick


Scott Dennis (profile) in 2014; all photos by Catherine Kirkpatrick

I first saw Scott Dennis perform at the Metropolitan Bar in 2013. A friend brought me to a Thursday night DRAGnet competition, promising great pictures. But as I settled on a hard chair in front of a dinky stage, I wondered. How much could happen in five feet of space?

Then a purple-haired figure took the mic, and suddenly everything was in motion, white-hot, inches away. Hips swung, Kabuki eyes flashed. Pounding sound flowed into the wild colors of the clothes, the hair, the lights. The audience screamed and was swept away on a rising tide of spectacle-induced synesthesia.


London Girl: Dennis at DRAGnet

Then Scott Dennis appeared and took it to another level. In a short fur, fishnet hose, and classic mini, his character, Madame Vivien V, screamed Mod, Swinging Sixties London. Suddenly we were on Carnaby Street jaunting along with Twiggy (“The Face of 1966”), shopping for clothes by Mary Quant, hoping for a glimpse of the Fab Four. Like a great actor, he made choices specific and so right, stirring my imagination, which is exactly how Scott Dennis would have it, because he is very serious about his art. “It’s not just going on stage and lip synching,” he said of drag. “I am an actor and storyteller.”


Breaking Up Words: BOS Studio Visit with Jared Flaming

by Nicole Durbin


[AiB] I’m a person off the street who doesn’t know anything about your work. How would you give me an introduction to what you’re doing here?

[JF] My previous body of work and the newer ones here both began with photo collages on the computer, which I then recreate by hand and oil paint on a large scale. Most of the elements I toy around with involve studying a lot of semiotics in college, and messing around with the notion of signs, origins of meaning, and how you actually come to some sort of derived meaning from viewing a painting.


[JF] All of these paintings have these wet, juicy brushstrokes in them, [which I] recreated on a much larger scale than they could possibly be. So you have what is, to some, the ultimate sign of authenticity and presence of the artist, like de Kooning moving around his canvas. The gestures of him moving in space are recorded in paint, and it’s supposed to be like a connection to him. I’m subverting that by recreating [the brushstrokes] so they’re all facsimiles in a way, or forgeries of what should be a direct linkage to authenticity of presence of the author of the work. Most of the elements in the final product are supposed to carry with them a sort of “suspect” manipulation or mediation to call into question what sort of meaning they’re usually used to signify.

Unlocking Doors and Gallery Closures at 17-17 Troutman

 by Sienna Reid


Street view of mural and 17-17 Troutman (at right) during BOS’14

Among the myriad participants in this year’s Bushwick Open Studios were the residents of the 17-17 Troutman building. In addition to the artists and artisans who opened up their private work spaces to the public to showcase their work and to engage with the public, many galleries in the building curated exhibitions for the special opening. This year, poignantly, many of these galleries knew these shows would be their last in this space, as they have been asked to leave by the building manager. Even though some people retain hope that they will be able to keep their gallery doors open, most feel that the end is nigh. For obvious reasons, the mood of the gallery owners was glum. Some people are sad, but others believe it is inevitable and time to move on. Few, however, are surprised, as this pattern fits with the continual gentrification of the area.

Whether a gallerist, an artist, or a light engineer, everyone has to sell. That is the common ground uniting everyone in this building and the hustle that often keeps us apart. But socializing, sharing work, and speaking about ideas are among the most important aspects of artistic development. At least once a year, the entire community has an excuse to engage in such essential bridge-building exchanges. Bushwick Open Studios promotes interactions among artists, neighbors, and strangers. Many of those attending BOS’14 were incredibly inspired, stepping through normally closed doors to shake hands and share some time together talking about work, art, and life.

Lively Walls at the Living Gallery

by Willow Goldstein

imageArtist Jade Fusco at work with murals by Brandon Sines, Peter Phobia, Mike Garcia, Martha Moszczynski, and Dean Cercone

The Living Gallery, home to a multitude of community activities from yoga, to drink and draws, to youth acting programs, hosted a gathering to unveil the freshly painted walls of its courtyard. From floor to rooftop, muralists wove colors, characters, and forms in their personal vision.