I hadn’t been to Bushwick in a long time, and boy, has it changed. I went up to see the open studios last weekend, but I never got out of 17-17 Troutman Street. Walking from the train, I was impressed by the quality of the street art, which was way beyond the graffiti tags of yore. (Photos are on my Instagram feed).
I’ve always liked open studios because you get a chance to chat with the artists, and see work in a wide variety of media and subject matter. I started out in the studio of Lulu Yee, whose colorful, quirky ceramic figures – especially the Norse god Loki in his salmon disguise, and the Tree Creatures – brought a smile to my face. Lulu also displayed her 2009 wedding dress, which was a fabulous marriage of art, community and functionality. She and her husband-to-be asked their family and friends to send them a good luck flower that Lulu then sewed onto her plain garment, which is now covered in 280 of them. Absolutely Wonderful!
Amy Talluto was exhibiting several graphite drawings on paper of the landscapes of upstate New York, especially the Catskill Mountains area. She’s a fabulous draughtsman, whose detailed depictions of the local trees, mountains and rocks capture the essence and form of nature in this region.
Mona Kamal displayed brightly colored abstractions and floral pieces, from her Drawing Series. On one wall were 6” x 8” gouaches on paper, patterned with abstractions inspired by nature, in the manner of tile mosaics found in Islamic architecture. Another series is composed of abstractions of gouache on veneer, about 8” x 8”, where the artist uses the pattern of the natural grain of wood. Yet another series has floral themes painted on birch bark of varying sizes. I have to admire the painstaking technique necessary to do this, and I think the artist has a great sense of color.
Jonathan Chapline creates large scale collages composed of on-line photos from magazines, movie scenes and mobile phones to create fantasy spaces that seem real, but have an alternate dimension, containing many simplified objects (some were on display), as well as suggestions of objects. He also has a wonderful sense of color, which adds to the mystery of his work.
Gordon Fearey was showing his large-scale textile paintings, in which a garment (or undergarment) is painted over to create an entirely new image with three dimensionality. He has a fantastic sense of color and composition, and his brushstrokes give an urgency to his work.
Unfortunately, I was running out of time, so I only paid cursory visits to Ned and Shiva Productions a collaboration between Javier Barrera and Shiva Lynn Burgos, were displaying stills from American Gothic, a series of 25 individual prints (some of which are presented as lightboxes); Abel Lenz, who had intriguing miniature motorized animals and people from his Protoype Horse series; and Brian Bald, whose photographs of drying paint are amazing – and not retouched!
My only regret is that I couldn’t visit more studios, so I’m putting this event on my calendar now for next year!