by Etty Yaniv
The artist, Tirtzah Bassel, at the opening night of The Lines Start Here
Charged with urgency, precision and an acute sense of place, Tirtzha Bassel’s luminous oil paintings at Slag capture figures lingering in uncannily familiar public spaces. Whether the subject matter of these canvases are crowds, couples, or single figures, the related verbs are of present continuous tense; standing, sitting, resting. These paintings, waiting in line at Trader Joe’s, sitting on an Ikea sofa to check a text message, or stretching horizontally on a bare mattress in the bedroom section, all entail the action in non-action. Although the commercial spaces these figures populate are filled with utilitarian objects such as red (and empty) shopping carts and a row of colorful sofas or beds, these interiors convey a strong sense of void. Objects multiply, proliferate and are caught along with their creators at the same space in an odd symbiosis.
Trader Joe’s, 72”x120”, oil on canvas, 2013
by Mary Coyne
This weekend I was able to stop by Outlet, a gallery space formed two years ago, which is currently operated by Julian Jimarez Howard, John Silvis and Jason Andrew. Outlet’s prolific exhibition schedule—the team organizes as many as twelve exhibitions a year in addition to planning events and programming—make the gallery an exciting aspect of Bushwick. As a HUB center for Bushwick Open Studios in 2014, Outlet is organizing a must-see two-man exhibition featuring the work of Alan Kleinberg and Alex Singh.
Alan Kleinberg ’Mudd Club Wedding’ 1979, Gelatin Silver Print, 11 x 14 inches
Through May 4, Outlet will be exhibiting a solo exhibition of new, site-specific work by Brooklyn-based artist Matthew Hillock. Hillock’s paintings, screenprints and projection piece on display at Outlet, the second of a seven part series, are all generated around a thesis of the formulation of contemporary mythology—what we choose to immortalize, how these myths are created and how certain tropes last through time. Hillock first creates highly detailed digital collages culled from a wide variety of source material including manga cartoons, illustrations, works from art history and original digital files created by Hillock himself. Once complete—Hillock typically builds up several layers over each other, imitating the practice of working with dozens of digital layers in digital design programs—he paints over much of the collage, only allowing portions to be left exposed. The result is a simultaneous masking and revealing of icons that fail to provide a narrative but rather suggest cultural cues and connections.
by Willow Goldstein
"One of the things that I think is very heartening [in the Rheingold negotiation] was that some of the strongest opponents, or people at least fighting hard for affordable housing, were some of the newer residents… and I think that’s a very positive thing that is important to note," said John Dereszewski at last Sunday’s AiB Panel on Affordable Housing. Conversations surrounding gentrification have taken place in different forums and venues across North Brooklyn for years, as the the myriad of contributing factors push new residents further East in a quest for affordable space. Arts in Bushwick initiated that conversation last Sunday, March 30, with the first of three panels on artist concerns. Panel organizer Sessa Englund, a Bushwick-based artist and curator, invited a refreshingly diverse panel of six community stakeholders, including Antonio Reynoso (NYC Councilmember representing the 34th district), Chloe Bass (Arts in Bushwick Co-Founder), Shawn Gallagher (active member of Placeholder), John Dereszewski (former District Manager of CB4 and Bushwick Historian), Kunal Gupta (Silent Barn), and Martin S. Needelman, Esq. (Housing Issues and Tenants Rights Specialist, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation). The panel was moderated by Robin Grearson, a nonfiction writer and creative producer. Additionally, Arts in Bushwick prepared handouts on tenant rights, rent stabilization, and housing court.
Left to right: Robin Grearson, Kunal Gupta, Chloe Bass, John Dereszewski, Antonio Reynoso, Martin S. Needelman, and Shawn Gallagher.
John Dereszewski began the conversation with a history of Bushwick, outlining factors in the trajectory that leads neighborhoods, like Bushwick, to this tipping point. Attorney Martin S. Needleman informed on the workings of housing court, including the institutionally ingrained favoring of landlords, through the prominence of eviction courts, over courts designed to hear tenant complaints (the balance currently sits at 14 to 1). Coucilman Antonio Reynoso positioned local affordable housing efforts in context to the City of New York as a whole. Community member Kunal Gupta shared his experience running a DIY community art space that became politically active in the face of the Rheingold rezoning. A reminder came from artist Chloe Bass that discussions about affordable housing need to keep distinct populations in mind, that needs or means of one population are not the same as another. Community activist Shawn Gallagher provided an in-the-works example of how the needs of culturally distinct populations can be merged through obtaining commercial spaces for manufacturing purposes, which allows for artists to work and creates local jobs. Their collective backgrounds and experiences provided an excellent framework in which to have a conversation as complex as this, a conversation that breaches race, gender, and socio-economic status, in an attempt to discern exactly who is entitled to what in an evermore aggressive battle against displacement.
Earlier this month Bushwick artist and community mainstay Christopher Stout showed his work at Fountain Art Fair, the leading fair for independent, experimental, and avant-garde art. For readers who don’t already know Stout, you should! He organizes the monthly Bushwick Art Crit Group, works out of his studio at Brooklyn Fireproof, and is an active contributor right here at the Arts in Bushwick blog.
This year’s Fountain Fair took place in the massive 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Ave. Walking around is a little surreal; a prefab gallery city where the walls don’t reach the ceiling. Director Elizabeth Tully made the decision to show Stout’s work at Fountain in part because of his status in the Bushwick arts community. As Stout explained, “[AiB Press and Sponsorship coordinator] Samantha Katz made the initial introduction between [Tully and I]. Then Beth came out and did a studio visit, and we kept talking, and Samantha came out and we shot a video together, and things got a little bigger and a little bigger and a little bigger, and I decided I’d do the show.”
by Etty Yaniv; photos by Etty Yaniv
Sue McNally’s whimsical series of self-portraits at Auxiliary Projects resemble pages from a carefully edited diary. Deeply personal, humorous and honest, most of these drawings depict a frontal view of the artist in various states of mind. Caricature-like with sometimes darker undertones, her drawings reveal a no fuss look at aging, femininity and change.
The artist (on the right) at the opening
Executed with quick-drying water-based materials that don’t leave much room for change beyond what McNally describes as “rash covering of problem areas,” the precise lines and washes create a consistent form throughout the intimate gallery space and as a whole they exude a genuine love of drawing. The artist says that she has been using her collection of materials, consisting of ink, watercolor, charcoal and gesso, for many years.
Once a month, some of the coolest and most talented people in the world are attending one event, Bushwick Art Crit Group (BACG), located in the art gallery of the Brooklyn Fire Proof East Warehouse. An artist-run organization founded by Bushwick artist Christopher Stout, BACG provides a place for artists to present their work via projection as they speak about their pieces, themselves, the mediums they employ, and where they plan to take their work. Each artist has nine minutes to present and may show up to ten pieces. Questions from the audience further fuel the exchanges.
This past Wednesday, BACG celebrated its first anniversary with another artistically charged evening of presentations. The works discussed and shown were as diverse as the Bushwick community: Ceramics, illustration, painting, and installation are only a few of the past week’s disciplines. Stout welcomed the standing-room-only crowd, and the presentations, documented in the following photo gallery, began:
Adam Bohemond speaks about his work while the crowd views a series of projections
by Aniela Coveleski
Machine Wall Drawing by Tristan Perich, close-up
Visitors have yet another reason to visit Pleasure Jail, a series of intimate musical gatherings hosted by Alex Cvetovich at Silent Barn. Focusing attention on the back wall next to the entrance, Machine Wall Drawing by Tristan Perich comprises a tiny robotic machine propelled by slow, small, jagged, up and down movements. This permanent installation, the first at Silent Barn, generates a controlled, yet sporadic, pattern, setting the backdrop for a multifaceted evening.
Machine Wall Drawing by Tristan Perich, zoom view
by Sessa Englund, Julia Sinelnikova, and Samantha Katz; photos by Willow Goldstein
Flushing Ave at Morgan Ave, the heart of a neighborhood in transition
Arts in Bushwick is proud to announce the first AiB Panel Discussion, Affordable Housing Today and Tomorrow, to take place at Radio Bushwick. Coordinated by Arts in Bushwick Lead Organizers Sessa Englund and Julia Sinelnikova, and moderated by local writer and community figure Robin Grearson, this panel discussion will focus on the issues surrounding the heated debate over the housing crisis in Bushwick, with an emphasis on art workers and the shifting landscape of New York’s creative sector.
With the highest concentration of artists in the city, Bushwick is home to a diverse community, representing a cross-section of the urban population. As gentrification rapidly transforms the neighborhood, artists and residents are bonded by the local politics of unbridled development. Through discussions featuring experts in the creative fields and prominent community leaders, AiB Panel Discussions aim to source this energy to create a powerful voice for change.
We know what you’re thinking — Why would I want to take time out of my busy schedule to register in person for Bushwick Open Studios? Can’t I just do this online in between updating my Instagram and ordering arepas from Seamless?
To which we say: Booooo. BOS is all about forging connections and creating a living art community out of this place we all call home. Where would women’s art be today without Miriam Schapiro, Judy Chicago, and their feminist community at CalArts? Where would cubism be if Picasso had never met Georges Braque?
Last weekend at Tutu’s, Arts in Bushwick volunteers answered questions, shared plates of soul-inspiring rosemary fries, helped make connections, and discussed the intersection of witchcraft and dance. Join us at one of the remaining mixers as we do it all again.
March 16: Brooklyn Fireproof East, 119 Ingraham, 7-9PM
March 22: Swallow Cafe, 49 Bogart, 1-3:30PM
March 24: Skytown, 921 Broadway, 7-9PM
by Willow Goldstein
Curator Matt Miller stands in front of works by Ken Madore and James Prez
Mark-making is one of the oldest means of visual communication. Blood and Butter and Bone, a recent exhibition at The Active Space curated by Matt Miller, provided an exploration through this broad lens. The show’s title comes from a reflection on the material substances that constitute different types of mark-making tools and mediums: “Words that I thought of to describe basic drawing and painting materials in their different states,” says Miller. The words speak to something primal yet domestic, which is fitting for an exhibition that showcases work ranging from pieces rooted in tradition to those that diverge into the experimental.
Work by James Prez (foreground), Things Come Into Play by Jeanne Thomsen (painting; left), and Untitled by Josh Kil (pentaform; right)
Works by Mark Sengbusch, Julie Torres, Jeanne Thomsen, and Matt Brownell explore abstraction through color and shape. Sengbusch’s gridded Downtown Pontiac is a playful arrangement of graphic magnets, lending to easy dissemination through utility and a friendly price (individual magnets are $20). Torres opted to display her work on the floor, allowing the viewer to gain insight into her private act of creation. Thomsen’s Things Come Into Play explores color and paint on the traditional canvas. Brownell’s work is modern and clear, pushing the notion of drawing by using small, uniform sticker dots to create 10 “drawings” that dance in uniform originality. Four paintings by Dave Grois appear to be panels from a unknown comic book. Viewing the work, Miller points out the faces of coworkers disguised in caricature on a snowy landscape with red spots. Something is surely amiss, so the viewer is left wondering what has happened.