Degas Beyond Ballerinas

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Landscape with Rocks (Paysage avec rochers), 1892. Pastel over monotype in oil on wove paper. Sheet: 10 1/8 × 13 9/16″ (25.7 × 34.4 cm). High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Purchase with High Museum of Art Enhancement Fund. Image courtesy of MOMA.

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Landscape with Rocks (Paysage avec rochers), 1892. Pastel over monotype in oil on wove paper. Sheet: 10 1/8 × 13 9/16″ (25.7 × 34.4 cm). High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Purchase with High Museum of Art Enhancement Fund. Image courtesy of MOMA.

I went to the wonderful show, Edgar Degas, A Strange New Beauty at MOMA.  Consisting of 180 works (120 monotypes plus 60 paintings, drawings, sketches) from 89 lenders (US and overseas, public and private) the exhibit focuses on Degas’ fascination and exploration of the monotype, a medium which allowed him to experiment with new ways of  depicting the world around him.   A world that was rapidly changing, thanks to the introduction of electricity, enabling new modes of traveling, working, and seeing.  No longer constrained by daylight, people could now go out more easily and safely at night, to bars, cafés, brothels or the ballet. 

Monotype, a hybrid of drawing and printing, was the perfect medium to visually express this new opening up of society, with its concurrent change in social mores.  Degas made full use of it, employing either the dark field method, in which a copper plate is completely covered in ink, and then a rag or brush is used to wipe away the design, or the light field method in which the ink is applied to a clean plate to make the design. A sheet of paper is then pressed against the plate, and the deign is pulled, usually only once, but sometimes twice (rarely three times).  Degas would sometimes use his fingers to move the ink, or create a blurred effect, as in the prints of the bathers.   Sometimes, as in his landscapes, which can verge on the abstract, he would use oil paint, rather than the black printers ink, to achieve a color monotype.  Sometimes he would do a second pull, and enhance the resulting “ghost image” with pastel, allowing him to further explore his interest in repetition and transformation.  You’ll find several groupings that show how Degas traced, inverted, and recombined figures into different arrangements.

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Café Singer, c.1877‑78. Monotype on paper. Plate: 4 3/4 × 6 3/8 in. (12 × 16.2 cm). Private collection. Image courtesy of MOMA

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Café Singer, c.1877‑78. Monotype on paper. Plate: 4 3/4 × 6 3/8 in. (12 × 16.2 cm). Private collection. Image courtesy of MOMA

Degas’ innovations are found not only in the new ways he pushed the medium, but also in his choice of subjects – rather than classical or mythological or religious themes, he depicted contemporary stage performers, café singers, prostitutes, laundry women, or scenes of women bathing, grooming – often with contorted bodies, but always with a sense of intimacy, of subjects worth depicting. 

The exhibition proceeds from small and dark monotypes to large and light, ending with a room full of paintings and drawings of (yes!) ballet dancers. 

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Dancer Onstage with a Bouquet, c.1876. Pastel over monotype on laid paper. Plate: 10 5/8 × 14 7/8 in. (27 × 37.8 cm). Private collection. Image courtesy of MOMA.

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Dancer Onstage with a Bouquet, c.1876. Pastel over monotype on laid paper. Plate: 10 5/8 × 14 7/8 in. (27 × 37.8 cm). Private collection. Image courtesy of MOMA.

I recommend watching the short video in the exhibition explaining the monotype process, and using one of the magnifying glasses in each room to explore the images close-up (you can see the fingerprints and smudge marks). 

All in all, this is a magnificent show, and a chance to see part of Degas’ oeuvre that is less often shown in these parts.  The show closes on July 24th, but get there sooner, as I guarantee you’ll want to go back.

Catch Michelle Stuart’s Photo Exhibit Before It Closes

Earth Memory Seekers by Michelle Stuart

Earth Memory Seekers by Michelle Stuart

This is the last weekend to catch a great show at the Bronx Museum:  Michelle Stuart, Theatre of Memory, Photographic Works. 

Michelle Stuart is widely known for her nature-based art, but this exhibit showcases her photography, assembling 12 large-scale works made since 2008 plus some from  her earlier “Codex” series, all related to her interested in ethnography, archaeology and natural history.  Each composition consists of photos arranged in a grid format, so the eye can move in several directions across the grid.  She also uses this format to construct a theme – our personal involvement with nature, history, and the cosmos –  around which the viewer can create their own story.  In her work, Stuart also struggles with the question of why are we here, and what can the artist say about that.  Since her work combines so many different types of images, it can be difficult to describe, so forgive me if sometimes my descriptions sound like a jumble… but there is a certain coherence amidst the chaos, and this is a format that provokes questioning, searching.

The artist’s engagement with nature is especially pronounced in the first two works, Sayreville Quarry, NJ, and Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico, dating from 1980-81, and clearly derived from the artist’s Land Art works; each canvas is a piece of muslin rubbed with the earth of the respective location, creating a large lovely brown square framed by small square color photos of that site, mostly in blues and browns, enhancing the earthly feel. This combination of photographs and rubbed-in earth contribute to each site’s unique and specific appearance.   Right next to them is the Sacred Solstice Alignment (1981-2014) twenty-four black & white photographs of Machu Picchu and the adjacent mountain, whose dreamy, meditative quality, captures the feeling of that site.  I especially enjoyed this series, since I didn’t have my camera with me when I visited Machu Picchu some years ago, having left it in my hotel in Lima. 

Several of Stuart’s works revolve around history, particularly that of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific, combining photos she’s made with vintage and found images, which she often alters, causing us to question what we really know as “history,” and  to wonder about the stories we’ve never heard. The Ring of Fire (2008-09/10) is composed of photos of the native peoples of Australia and New Zealand as well as butterflies, iguanas, mountains, flowers, old photographs of ocean liners, masted ships, black & white print diagrams of the constellations of Jupiter, Libra, and Aquarius.  Earth Memory Seekers (2011) are 60 photos (some vintage) of fauna & flora from remote locations, specimens, hunters and indigenous people.  In Time Recaptured (2013) she returns again to this area, but with photos of her ancestors, family members, as well as animals, landscapes and sea animals. 

Night Over Alice Springs, by Michelle Stuart

Night Over Alice Springs, by Michelle Stuart

Stuart’s exploration of our relationship with the cosmos finds its expression in Hear the Mermaids Sing (2013) an assemblage of 70 black & white photos of  the moon, the stars, clusters, clouds, space craft and boats punctuated by a recurring image of a man in a hat.   Night Over Alice Springs (2013) has the artist again turning her gaze to the sky, capturing not only planets, stars and the moon, but also moths and mirrors.

The Ambiguities (2015) are all black & white photographs (but one) of landscapes, seascapes, objects and faces, many wind-swept, giving it the feeling of a very old photograph, as if you had stumbled on someone’s secret album in an attic..  it’s not only her story, or Herman Melville’s story (it’s his title), but what the viewer brings to it.

My Still Life (2015-16) is a large grid of 40 color “still lifes”: images of real objects that the artist owns, along with fictive images, vintage personal photos, photos of collages and 3-D dioramas she’s constructed, many containing vintage photos, and others with the night-time sky as a background. Each image is a vignette, pulling you in to decipher the mystery it seems to hold.

The Carousel, and now the china elephant comes 'round by Michelle Stuart

The Carousel, and now the china elephant comes ’round by Michelle Stuart

My two favorites are works that have more urban themes (I am a city girl): The Carousel, and now the china elephant comes round (2013) a series of black & white photos of carousels in motion, in the middle of which is a portrait of a young woman wearing a fez, and other photos which could be movie stills… capturing the magical feel of the carousel  (the title comes from a Rainer Maria Rilke poem, The Carousel); and Rue Cart (2013-14) twenty-eight black & white photos of Parisian streets, buildings, specific objects (a watch, a pitcher, a stamp on an envelope) which has the overall feeling of old photos seen through the rain.

The last day to catch this exhibit is Sunday, June 26th – take yourself up to the Bronx to see it.   

A Contemporary Take on African Masks

The Brooklyn Museum is exploding with vibrant shows, on subjects from Africa to Coney Island.  In fact, there are two shows, each devoted to one of these distinct areas, side-by-side on the 5th floor.  They’re both powerful, and will leave you thinking a bit differently not only about these geographic locales, but also about life. This post will focus on Africa; the next one is about the Coney Island show.

Gelede Body Mask, artist unknown, Benin, 19th century

Gelede Body Mask, artist unknown, Benin, 19th century

Disguises – Masks and Global African Art  is a powerful display of masks, sculptures, photos, prints, and videos, mostly by African artists (or artists of African descent).  The exhibition is organized thematically, i.e. “Becoming Another,” “Masks as Disguise,” often placing historical masks in dialogue with contemporary artists, fostering an exploration of the different roles that masks play, and the possibilities they open up to their wearers. 

As the wall labels explain, masquerading is a catalyst for engagement with issues of a given time, whether sacred or secular; it’s also a platform for artistic creativity, allowing the wearer to make statements he/she otherwise could not.  Masks, in the form of iconographic characters express archetypes, and the wearer’s role is to teach a lesson.  However, masks live in a specific cultural context; when they  are separated from their costumes and from their wearers – as they are in museums – their larger messages are lost.  This exhibit explores these themes from historical and contemporary perspectives.

Frighten Children mask by Chuckwu Okora, Nigeria 1960

Frighten Children mask by Chuckwu Okora, Nigeria 1960

At the beginning of the show, you are greeted by a 19th century Gelede body mask, in the form of a woman, from  Benin, standing on a pedestal, slightly off the floor.  There are cases containing 19th and 20th century wooden masks from Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Benin: several very large, stylized human faces, and some have animal characteristics.  One of the standouts for me was a smaller, oval shaped yellow, brown, white and black “frighten children” mask by Chuckwu Okora, of Nigeria, who created it in 1960 as a theatre mask for an evil character, representing greed and social illness. 

In the next room are 4 large photos from the Oikonomos series by Angolan artist Edson Chagas, in which he covers his head with shopping bags from around the globe that are now found in Angola, creating a commentary on the consumer market that is now found there.    Close by is Woman #3 by Paul Anthony Smith, who used the 18th century technique of pictotage on photos of a Kuba mask and his mother, transforming them into a completely new mask with a jewel-like feel to it, evoking Asian theatre masks.  Across the room you’ll find Willie Cole’s work:  in the center is a photo of a scorched iron; on one side is is a photo of the artist with the same scorch marks superimposed on his face; on the other side is a woodcut depicting an iron as a mask. The palette of brown, white and black, as well as the motif of the iron serve to unify the pictures into a triptych.

Aluminum and brass (razor) wire mask by Walter Oltmann, South Africa

Aluminum and brass (razor) wire mask by Walter Oltmann, South Africa

In the next room, you’ll find several spectacular masks by the South African artist Walter Oltmann, made from aluminum and brass (razor) wire.  He’s also constructed several “suits” from these materials, but with the caterpillar and Kafka’s insect as their underlying inspiration, making you think about how we use clothing to separate ourselves from others, or to identify ourselves with a given group, or to transform ourselves.  As someone who had to wear a uniform for twelve years, his work spoke very powerfully to me.

Be sure to see the Egungun series of oversized photos by Leonce Rafael Agbodjélou of Benin, which are wonderful portraits of egungun performers in Porto Novo – the colors and patterns of their costumes are stunning, and are made more intriguing by the wearers’ faces being covered.  Also take a look at the oversize photos by Frenchman Jean-Claude Moschetti of masked figures in Benin – not only the two triptychs with the brightly colored, elaborate costumes, but also the solo photo of a person – whose face is also covered – wearing an all white costume decorated with cowrie shells, and set against a deep sky blue background.

In another area are 7 pieces by Nandipha Mntambo of South Africa; two oversize photos of the artist dresses as a bullfighter, in a white matador’s suit she made partly from cowhide.  There’s also a series inspired by the myth of Europa (who was seduced by Zeus disguised as a white bull) consisting of a photo in which the artist transformed herself into Europa as half bull, half woman – a fascinating hairy female face with horns; this same image is also rendered as a bronze bust.  You’ll also find two small, spare, pen & ink drawings of a bull, reminiscent of Picasso.

NeoPrimitivism by Brendan Fernandes, Kenya

NeoPrimitivism by Brendan Fernandes, Kenya

In another area you’ll find the Anomalia series by Brendan Fernandes of Kenya, his digital drawings of mythical, futuristic animals whose heads are African artifacts (masks) mounted on animal bodies.  In a separate installation, NeoPrimitivism he has put fake white masks on fake deer, who are standing next to masks made of neon, highlighting the loss of cultural context and spiritual meaning when “authentic” masks become commodities, sold on the street (as on Canal Street).

In the next room is a video installation, in which two Makonde masks from the early 20th century are place in dialogue with Jacob Dwight’s digital masks whose constantly changing images are projected on two screens.  The walls of the room are covered in black & white wallpaper created by Sam Vernon from images he xeroxed and altered as well as hand-drawn patterns.

detail from ChimaTek installation by Saya Woolfalk

detail from ChimaTek installation by Saya Woolfalk

In the center of the entire exhibit is a large installation ChimaTek which defies description.  Created by Saya Woolfalk, it has a very 1960’s psychedelic/futuristic feel.  This is the latest work in a series she’s created over several years, around female characters called “Empathics”   I recommend that you read the wall labels, then watch  the short video about how ChimaTek will allow you to transform yourself into a post-modern person through a process of hybridization that gives customers the opportunity to try on new hybrid identities.  Seemingly a combination of sci-fi fantasy and parody of medical advertising, it is simultaneously very funny and very scary – an ingenious installation that’s a sly commentary on how we chase happiness by changing ourselves.

There is so much to see here – I’ve left out lots of things such as, William Vilalongo who’s put African masks over reproductions of western nudes, and also placed works by Frank Stella and Alfred Jansen over Pende masks, creating masks on masks…  or Iké Udé’s “Sartorial Anarchy #23” in which he dresses in “post-dandy” style, wearing an embroidered Nigerian man’s gown, with a reproduction of a 16th-century ruff collar, and a French fencing mask from the 1940’s.. and other items that are detailed in a guide by the photo.

Sartorial Anarchy #23 by Iké Udé, Nigeria

Sartorial Anarchy #23 by Iké Udé, Nigeria

Leave yourself plenty of time to take in this exhibit; it’s not only that there’s a lot to see, but also understanding the layers of meaning  as contemporary artists struggle to reinvent the mask. (More images are on my Instagram feed) 

The exhibit runs through  September 18th.  However, I recommend that you go well before then, as you’ll probably want to see it again.

Dreaming of Coney Island

one of the ICY SIgns

one of the ICY SIgns

Coney Island is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) at the Brooklyn Museum is a witty show by artist Stephen Powers, who’s organized works by ICY Signs, a collective of artists, sign makers and people who want to make signs.  The exhibit is an assemblage of the group’s output over the last 10 years, all of which is hand-made in either Brooklyn or Philadelphia, and also includes some found and vintage signs.  There’s a short video in which he talks about the exhibit, which is worth watching.

The signs employ the typography, graphic designs, catchy phrases, bright and pastel colors of commercial signage, especially of an earlier Coney Island, but when you read them, you’ll see that they’re really commentaries on life, with all the joys and messiness of love, work, relationships, and everyday activities. 

one of the ICY Signs

one of the ICY Signs

The signs are not displayed one after the other;  instead, some are grouped together on several large canvases, around the perimeter of the space, and seem to revolve a round a theme: “Let’s go anywhere”  “The job is getting up again”   One canvas contains some 21st century puns, such as “Server not responding” with a picture of a fork.  There are two which are each devoted solely to one word, “Adore” and “Eyes” playing with each’s linguistic and graphic possibilities.

In the central rotunda of the room, you’ll find two columns festooned with signs.  One contains images and messages you’d expect to see at Coney Island:  “Have your handwriting analyzed by Sister Nassia” or an advertisement for “4-Train snake-bite gym bag” (I want one of those!), as well as a charming 3-D depiction of bathers on the beach.  The other column is more political in nature, with a visual commentary on relations between residents and the police in housing projects.  On one wall is a witty “calendar” for an 8-day week, illustrating activities for each day from “Mundane” through “Someday”

Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to read the signs;  it may look a little overwhelming, but it’s well worth the effort. I guarantee you’ll walk out with a smile on your face.   More images are on my Instagram feed

The show runs through August 21st.

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A Celebration of Artistic Freedom

James Joyce by alex Ehrenzweigh, 1915, restored, from Wikimedia Commons

James Joyce by alex Ehrenzweigh, 1915, restored, from Wikimedia Commons

If you look at the Current Events page , you’ll notice that there are several  “Bloomsday” events on June 16th.  There’s a reason for all this fuss, namely, the fight to get James Joyce’s seminal work, Ulysses, published in the United States, where it ran afoul of the existing obscenity laws.     Paralleling Homer’s Odyssey, (but in prose, and extensively employing the “stream of consciousness” technique) Ulysses chronicles the perambulations and thoughts of Leopold Bloom and several Dubliners as they go about their business on June 16, 1904.  Ulysses first appeared in the US in serial form, in The Little Review, beginning in 1920 without incident, until the publication of Episode 13, which contains obscenities and describes Leopold Bloom pleasuring himself.  That caught the ire of the US Post Office, which declared the material obscene, and burned 500 copies of The Little Review.  Then the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice initiated a trial, with the end result that in1921 the magazine was declared obscene, and the publishers, Margaret Caroline Anderson and Jane Heap, were fined and almost sentenced to prison.

In 1922, Joyce found a publisher willing to print the entire book in the person of Ms. Sylvia Beach, who ran the Parisian publishing house and book shop Shakespeare & Co. (He couldn’t get it published in Ireland or the UK either.) Thereafter, copies from France were routinely smuggled into the US, and in 1928, Ulysses was officially declared obscene by the US Customs Court.  However, Bennett Cerf, a founder of Random House wanted to publish the American edition, and arranged for the book to be brought into the US, where it was confiscated by US Customs. And so began The United States vs. One Book called “Ulysses.”  After a bench trial in 1933 in the Southern District of NY, Judge John M. Woolsey – who, to his credit, read the book in its entirety – lifted the ban on Ulysses, finding that it was not pornographic or obscene, but rather that the book showed “Joyce’s sincerity and his honest effort to show exactly how the minds of his characters operate.”  However, that was not the end of the saga, as the case was appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, where, once again ( in a 2 to 1 decision), Ulysses was found to have artistic merit, and to not be obscene when read in its entirety (all of the judges agreed that there were obscene passages in the book).

As I was researching this, I was struck by all the women who played a major role in bringing Joyce’s works to the public, which is rather ironic when, in some of the obscenity trials, passages from Ulysses couldn’t be read, because women were present in the court – even when they were the publishers!  Go figure.

The above is a seriously shortened synopsis of events and legal opinions.  You can find an enjoyable and fuller history on the website of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

You can find the full decision by the 2nd Circuit of the Court of Appeals  on the website of Pen Center USA

So, even if you can’t make it to one of the “Bloomsday” celebrations, raise a toast to James Augusta Aloysius Joyce and the brave men and women who published his masterwork, the judges who allowed it to be published in the US, and to the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Art and Housing: Illuminating a Crisis

Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness - Each ribbon represents one person without shelter

Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness – Each ribbon represents one person without shelter

If you’re wondering about the genesis of NYC’s housing crisis, head on over to the Mitchell-Innes & Nash  gallery in Chelsea. They’ve handed over the gallery space to The Temporary Office of Urban Disturbances, an autonomous group formed in May 2016, who are presenting  If you can’t afford to live here, mo-o-ove!!

This exhibition has elements of all three parts of artist Martha Rosler’s landmark three-show cycle entitled If You Lived Here…, first shown at the Dia Art Foundation in 1989.

Martha Rosler’s work – photography, video, performance, installation, and writings – focuses on the public sphere, exploring issues from everyday life and the media to architecture and the built environment, especially as they affect women.

The present exhibition – with contributions from numerous activists, artists and organizations – is structured in three parts, focusing on tenant struggles and gentrification; homelessness, both visible and hidden; and urbanism and development.

Homeless II, 1988, Jerry Pagane

Homeless II, 1988, Jerry Pagane

There’s not much by way of fine art work here; rather you’ll find many posters, flyers, maps, videos and articles, which chronicle and illuminate the ways in which government actions and inaction have helped create a housing crisis, not only in New York, but across the country – examples from Seattle and Pittsburgh are included.  There are also stories of communities and individuals who have fought back, some more successfully than others.  What comes across so vividly in this show is how little things have changed since the 1980’s.

A series of town hall discussions dedicated to exploring themes present in the exhibition will take place at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 534 West 26th Street, and hosted by The Temporary Office of Urban Disturbances.

Maps and timeline of development of lower manhattan by Dan Wiley

Maps and timeline of development of lower manhattan by Dan Wiley

Town Hall Discussions:
Tuesday, June 14, 6-8 pm: Art-Estate
Thursday, June 16, 6-8 pm: Up-and-coming: Trending Neighborhoods, Rising Resistance,                                                    Part 1
Tuesday, June 21, 6-8 pm: Up-and-coming: Trending Neighborhoods, Rising Resistance,                                                     Part 2
Thursday, June 23, 6-8 pm: Privatize!

The exhibit runs through July 9, 2016.  Do see it!  More information here 

Bronx Artists – On Display and Getting Their Due

Adam and Eve on a Raft, by Heidi Johnson, oil on canvas

Adam and Eve on a Raft, by Heidi Johnson, oil on canvas

Made it up to the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos for the 2016 BRIO  (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) grantees ceremony.  BRIO provides direct support, in the form of $3,000 grants, to 25 individual Bronx artists who create literary, media, visual, and performing works of art.  BRIO award winners are required to complete a one-time public service activity within the one-year period of their award.

In addition to the ceremony, there was also an exhibition BRIO VI – Material, Culture + Conditions featuring 2014- 2015 BRIO grantees in Visual Arts & Media.  The artwork covered a wide range of media including, collage, monotypes, paintings, photography, sculpture, textile/fiber art, and video.

Day #45, #3, by Ruth Marshall, 2015 hand knit yarn, canvas and t-pins

Day #45, #3, by Ruth Marshall, 2015 hand knit yarn, canvas and t-pins

There was much to like in this show of almost 30 works.  Being an embroiderer, I was especially drawn to the two pieces by Ruth Marshall, composed of hand-knit yarn, canvas and paint.   Three oil paintings caught my eye – two by Lisa Lebofsky of Melting Icebergs in Greenland (oil on aluminum), and Heidi Johnson’s Adam and Eve on a Raft whose bright colors and sea creatures are a sly commentary on how we’ve polluted our waterways.  Agnes Murray’s three monotypes were lovely, and I also enjoyed Boringuen Gallo’s Heaven Wheels Above You, fashioned from found wheel rims.

I got to speak a bit with Amy Pryor, who has 6 pieces in the show.  Her background is in both landscapes (traditional and abstract) and sculpture.   She is concerned with how materials function, about how ordinary materials are used, especially images from advertising.

Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, by Amy Pryor, 2016 collage on panel with ink, offset, envelopes, magazine paper and acrylic

Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, by Amy Pryor, 2016 collage on panel with ink, offset, envelopes, magazine paper and acrylic

Her mixed media collages depict the intersection of landscape, abstraction and economics, so it will come as no surprise that a recurring motif is price tags – which she either cuts out from print ads, or gets from on-line publications, or uses the price stickers you find in the supermarket.

Amy’s work also explores how one orients oneself amid a consumer barrage, so you’ll notice that there are many near disasters – an avalanche, an eruption – in her pictures.  You can find out more about Amy on her website.

BRIO VI runs through August 3rd, at the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos, 450 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.  There are more images from the show on my Instagram feed.

I also got the chance to speak with two of this year’s BRIO awardees. 

Assisi III, by Agnes Murray, 1982, ink wash on Asian paper

Assisi III, by Agnes Murray, 1982, ink wash on Asian paper

Sarah Stern has been writing poetry since she was 12 years old – she wrote her first poem with her mom, when she was graduating elementary school.  What a great way to launch a career!  Sarah got another push at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where one of her professors told her to keep on writing poetry.  Which she did, taking workshops at the 92nd Street Y, learning about revision and about taking herself seriously as a poet.  She also discovered that other people were struggling with the same writing issues she was.

This is Sara’s 5th BRIO award – the first one, she said “was magic”.  Sarah has published a chap book Another Word for Home as well as a full book of her poems, But Today is Different.  Throughout her career, she’s had “many, many rejections – you need patience when you write poetry.”  You can find more information about Sarah and her work on her website

Heaven Wheels Above You, by Boringuen Gallo, 2016 found rim, cast bondo auto filler and spray paint

Heaven Wheels Above You, by Boringuen Gallo, 2016 found rim, cast bondo auto filler and spray paint

Rock Wilk, BRIO winner for acting, was in the music business for many years, both as a producer and a performer (he sings and plays several instruments).  A few years ago he cut his own album, but didn’t feel that music was the right fit for him.  However, that was the beginning of his journey as a playwright – he turned his album Broke Wide Open into a performance piece of the same name, which was performed in several festivals and ran for over 3 months at the New Theatre Off Broadway.

The end of June will see two performances of his new play, Brooklyn Quartet.  Inspired by the 2006 shooting of Sean Bell by NYC police, BQ is a fictional tale of three kids (2 boys and one girl) who are best friends growing up in Bed-Stuy, but wind up almost destroying one another.   The play will be directed by Reg E Gaines, the author/ lyricist of the Tony Award winning musical, Bring In Da Noise/ Bring In Da Funk.  You can catch BQ on June 24th and 25th at the Pregones Theatre in the Bronx.  You can find more information about the play and about Rock at his website  

You can find more information about the other BRIO winners here.    

CONGRATULATIONS to all!