I like going to open studios, because then I get to see a lot of work across a variety of mediums and styles, by both emerging and mid-career artists; plus, it’s usually easy to talk to them about their art. On October 20th, I visited several of the studios of the 350+ artists who were showing at the Gowanus Open Studios in Brooklyn (even if I were a centipede, I don’t think I’d be able to visit them all). Here are my highlights.
Caroline Otis Heffron and her husband Adam Clayman held a joint show on the parlor floor of their house.
Caroline Otis Heffron (who’s a potter and painter) has created a lovely series of intimate paintings, based on photos she’s taken in museums (mostly of sculptures) and on the streets of New York City. She then cuts these photos and recombines the images to create collages with a new narrative, which she then translates into drawing and paint. For Heffron, the gestures and the moment guide her work.
The first thing that struck me about Adam Clayman’s photographs is that the majority of them were black and white. He confirmed that he works primarily in that mode, as he’s drawn to it. The photos he was showing were primarily images of Italy, India and Brooklyn, especially Coney Island.
Over at 540 President Street, Spaceworks has created low-cost artists studios in a very large two-story building. (They also offer low-cost rehearsal space in Brooklyn and Queens). About 30 of their artists participated in the open studios…
In his Migration series, Peter Patchen uses a 3-D printing process to transform models of war planes into birds – for him the planes, like the B-52 above, are gorgeous but destructive. His work tries to answer the question of what would happen if they became autonomous…
When I entered Taylor McMahon’s studio, I blurted out “are those the strips we used as kids to weave key chains?” (I know, you can’t take me anywhere) and she confirmed that she does, indeed, work with plastic lanyards. I like discovering artists using non-traditional materials, especially when their use of ordinary or mundane items elevates them without making them pretentious. McMahon, whose weavings combine strong geometric and abstract patterns, told me she doesn’t use a chart, since she usually has an idea of what she wants the piece to look like as she works on it. I can’t wait to seen the above weaving when it’s finished.
This oil by Victoria Morales brought back many memories of my childhood, when clotheslines were everywhere, from back yards to the windows in the alleyways between apartment buildings!
Tegan Brozyna showed work from her series Traverse, where she interweaves painted paper shapes through layers of vertical threads whose tension holds the pieces in place. There’s a certain playfulness in her work, and I like her sense of color.
Right around the block, on the ground floor of 505 Carroll Street, is the Brooklyn branch of the Textile Arts Center (there’s also one in the West Village), where they’ve just expanded, adding more artists studios. They run a 9-month residency program, and offer classes and studio space to the general public. Check them out!
At the Center they were featuring the work of Jose Picayo, a photographer who took a weaving class at the Center, got hooked on it, then took almost all their other classes, and is now making his own designs!
On the second floor you’ll find BLUE: The Tatter Textile Library which opened its doors this summer. Not only does it have a library of over 3,000 textile-related books, it also has the hosts workshops and lectures. It’s a fabulous space and a great addition to the community.
I was happy to see my Boerum Hill neighbor Patricia Stegman, who was showing ten of the lovely nature sketches she made with watercolor, gouache and pastel this past summer while visiting family in France. The above is the most abstract work in that series, but is in the same color palette as the others.
The Brooklyn Workshop Gallery was holding it’s last show, as it closed on October 29th. This is a loss, as the Gallery not only hosted exhibits, but they also held workshops and other community events. Here’s some of the work they were showing…
Immigration is a central theme in much of Iviva Olenick’s work. In this vein, she’s created a Flag series, including the above, which was hung in the Gallery’s front window. The text reads: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning for affordable housing, comprehensive healthcare, credible news, resource-rich integrity-driven schools, unrestricted travel, sanctuary cities, a whole country as sanctuary from the wretched refusals of our most basic inalienable human rights.
Gisella Sorrentino showed work from her summer residency at the Gallery, which resulted in a series, Terra Madre, about becoming a mother. These are self-portraits, built around a dream she had about becoming a mother, a year before her son was born. They also express the duality of being pregnant, and how it made her softer towards the world. The photos were hung in the Gallery’s backyard/garden, which was the perfect setting for them.
This intriguing multi-paneled work by Signe Bresling Rudolfsen …
was being reinterpreted as a weaving by Martine Bisagni, the Gallery’s founder. I hope she opens another space in Brooklyn.
I’m sorry I couldn’t get to more of the Gowanus Open Studios – check out their website if you missed the show – I’m definitely looking forward to next year’s edition!