by Nekoro Gomes
Working as the art collective Lazy Mom, artists Josie Keefe and Phyllis Ma have created a whimsically dark interrogation of our consumption of food in the Photoshop age, when every meal from the latest offering at Roberta’s to the new Taco Bell Crunch Wrap is stylized to an almost comically artificial degree. Keefe and Ma, who met as part of the magazine collective Family Family Tree, were inspired to create the exhibit from their respective backgrounds working as a prop stylist and window dresser respectively. “Food photography is usually functional, it’s aesthetically designed to make the ingredients seem as appetizing as possible,” the two wrote in an e-mail to Arts in Bushwick.
“We wanted to abstract [that idea] a bit, to use food for its formal aspects, and play with the texture, color, and shape of it as an ‘ingredient’ in the image.” The exhibit depicts images of fruit, flowers, and other foodstuffs in that seeming moment of stasis before it’s either eaten or thrown away. In as much as it is said that a person is what they eat, the collection of digital prints range in order from being tongue-in-cheek to starkly disconcerting in how visceral they are.
[AiB] It’s Bushwick Open Studios, and lots of people have been going in and out of your studio space. How do you introduce your work and its themes to a neophyte?
[NB] I use a lot of words in these pieces, and the words reflect things I hear on the street, on the trains. They’re common phrases that people use, and so I try and interject the conceptual meaning and the formal nature of the piece of the same time.
I try to underplay [my process], but people nevertheless really want to know. They’re digital prints that are made with archival pigment print. There are also painted pieces and textured pieces - it’s a combination of mixed media, so I cut up small pieces and I individually put them together to make a larger whole. Sometimes I put them together to make a large installation - room sized - and then there are the times they’re smaller discrete objects. I think of them as modules, so that I can reestablish and reframe them in different situations, different contexts.
by Etty Yaniv; all photos by Etty Yaniv unless otherwise indicated
Rachael Gorchov in front her work at TSA; photo courtesy the artist
Presented in a striking bright light, Rachael Gorchov’s recent work at TSA resonates as an exemplar collection of exotic hybrid species in an alternate universe. Varying in size and placed in different vantage points from the top to the bottom of the gallery walls, Gorchov’s diverse painted objects create a playful dialogue with each other. While each object can stand alone, altogether as a group they form whimsical and cohesive variations on suburban landscapes, such as the lawns, ponds, skies and flora that surround offices and industrial parks. That said, Gorchov emphasizes that the landscapes in her paintings do not reflect places but rather capture moods in form of conglomerated places and painterly abstractions.
Partial installation view of Making Strange
For this body of work, which Gorchov both created and curated, the creation process involved photography and drawings of the grounds and architecture in office and industrial parks in suburbia. First she photographs the grounds, then in her studio she makes objects and sketches. “Often I will have a general idea of an object and landscape combination, but it’s usually quite vague at first. It emerges through building forms and sketching,” Gorchov explains.
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
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.
[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.
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!”
[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.
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.
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.”