A Survey of Brooklyn Galleries and Studios by Amy Boone-McCreesh
Many of my trips to New York are spent in Manhattan and more specifically, Chelsea. Last weekend two studio visits took me to Brooklyn, where I tried to embrace clashing approaches of maximizing time and allowing for organic exploration.
I arrived on a Sunday afternoon; many of the galleries in Brooklyn are open Sundays until 6 pm and closed on Mondays. All of my gallery explorations happened in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that boasts many artist studios and artist run spaces.
The Parlour Gallery http://theparlourbushwick.com/
The Parlour gallery is located on Bushwick Avenue in a large row home. The interior is preserved as a residence, complete with wallpaper and fireplace. The space is run by husband and wife Chuck Tisa and Racehl Philips, as well as Janice Sloan and they’ve been operational for three years. I had been to the Parlour a few times before, including for the opening of the current exhibition of Neo-Crafitivism.
This show was proposed and organized by outside curators but Chuck shared with me that usually the three of them make curatorial decisions together and decide shows as a group. This show revolves around the term craftivism, an attempt to merge craft and social activism. Many of the mediums here relate to craft but also speak to social issues and contemporary life. Like many of the shows in the Parlour, this one takes full advantage of the homes architectural features. Rebecca Morgan’s ceramics sit easily on the built in shelving around the fireplace. The craft element in all of the works seem appropriate within the cozy living room and kitchen that act as exhibition space.
Happy Sad Shield is a large yellow piece by Courtney Puckett that leans against the Parlour’s kitchen wall. It feels like a functional object and not so out of place within the home environment. The fabric and thread wrapped wood piece has a human scale. The grid throughout makes the piece look strong enough to hold a body, like a stretcher. It sits, again effortlessly, near the back door, ready for an emergency. Neo- Craftivism also includes the work of Sarah Bednarek, Rachel Gorchov, Roxanne Jackson, Robin Kang, Katarina Lanfranco, Heidi Lau, and Nichole Van Beek and closes June 21, 2015.
Trasmitter Gallery is located on Willoughby Ave. and was founded just last year by Tom Marquet, Mel Prest, Sara Jones, Carl gunhouse, Rob de Oude and Baltimore’s own Rod Malin (Guest Spot). They describe themselves as a curatorial collective initiative and share many of the galleries responsibilities. Spooky Laughter at a Distance is the current exhibition, featuring works by Jennifer Grimyser, Todd Kelly, and Ben Pederson. The theme of the show starts with Einstein’s EPR paradox and ends with the connectivity of the artists’ objects and ideas.
While at the gallery I ran into one of the collective’s members, Rob de Oude. He shared with me a space next door to the gallery (but in the same building) where a pop of show titled Space Available was brewing. Even though Rob was clearly working on readying the raw space, he was so gracious in sharing and explaining the plans for the show. The large loading dock area is currently not rented and the landlord has allowed Rob and fellow curator Paul Curio to take it over for the month. The exhibit will house large-scale works that deal with space, while playing within the physical space that is available for rent. Transmitter and TSA galleries will also have small shows in the back of the loading dock for the duration. For more information on the special project check out http://space-available.tumblr.com/
Space Available Show
Tiger Strikes Asteroid http://www.tigerstrikesasteroid.com/
Tiger Strikes Asteroid is physically connected to Transmitter, but they operate as separate gallery spaces. TSA also has locations in Los Angeles and Philadelphia and host respected flat file collections. The three locations are a an artist run network that aim to present emerging artists and expand connections. The current exhibition at TSA titled Night Flight is a humorous but deep look into what happens at night. Sometimes dreamy and sometimes menacing, the group show includes work of Benjamin Degen, Johannes DeYoung, Angela Dufresne, Charlotte Hallberg, Trenton Doyle Hancock, MaryKate Maher, Tom McGrath, Mark Shetabi, and Jude Tallichet. If you visit TSA, be sure to also check out their flat file collection that rotates yearly.
Other Galleries in to check out in Brooklyn:
Nurture Art- sign up for their online artist registry! http://nurtureart.org/
Ortega Y Gasset Projects http://oygprojects.com/about/
Greenpoint Terminal Gallery http://www.greenpointterminalgallery.com/
STUDIO VISIT- ALICIA SCARDETTA
Alicia Scardetta is from Texas and found her way to New York through Pratt Institute. Scardetta’s fiber works are made through wrapping and weaving.
The amount of labor is clear in her work but I was curious about the process. While I have a deep appreciation and love for textiles, I often wonder about things like composition and planning while working in the process driven act of weaving. Alicia and I discussed our creative processes and she shared with me that many of the decisions she makes within her weavings are intuitive and not planned.
While she tries to leave the process open, color always acts as an anchor within the work. The reoccurrence of a warm browns and yellows up against bright pinks and purples makes me think of her roots in Texas. Alicia also shared with me her drawings. They are not drawn from observation, but endearingly revealed as pieces she wishes she could make. Color washes lay on top of varying stripes and lines in a way not possible within the weavings. It seems they satisfy an art itch within her. During my stay I also visited the Brooklyn Textile Arts Center, which is where Scardetta really fell in love with textiles. She came to weaving later in her art career and we talk about the current state of craft, consumerism and art, and in which she feels her work is the best fit. This fall you can see Alicia Scardetta’s work in person at a show I am curating at Terrault Contemporary in Baltimore. It was a pleasure meeting with Alicia and I am excited for the opportunity to create a dialogue between her fiber works and those of painters and sculptors.
TEXTILE ARTS CENTER http://www.textileartscenter.com/
The Textile Arts Center is located in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn. They also have a retail location in Manhattan that features the work in progress residency. The WIP residency puts selected fibers artist in the Manhattan storefront for one month to work on a piece. Here, the public can see the process and engage with the artist. Alicia Scardetta just completed the WIP residency.
The location I visited in Brooklyn is a 3,200 sq. ft. work space that houses studios, equipment, and a resource library. They offer both adult and youth programs and summer camps as well as an artist residency program. During each cycle of the nine-month residency eight emerging artists are awarded a studio, access to the facilities and guidance on the fusion of their creative endeavors and best business practices within their field. The program started in 2010 and has graduated over twenty-five artists and designers.
BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK AND DUMBO http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/
A lot of visits to New York are often spent running from here to there so I relished in a Monday morning walk through Dumbo (down under the Manhattan bridge overpass) and into the Brooklyn Bridge Park. I watched the East River Ferry surprisingly quickly cut its way through the fog and stop at Manhattan. The dreary weather left the park virtually empty and made for a pretty surreal experience. The park is small but lush and as you walk into the greenery pop’s of the Manhattan skyline disappear and reappear.
Like many, I marvel at the human accomplishment that is New York and being on the edge of Brooklyn looking into Manhattan while surrounded by trees and flowers was an energizing and magical experience. The icon that is New York makes for easier digestion as a whole, but when I’m able to experience it as a series of smaller moments I build an even greater appreciation for what New York really is and what it can be for so many people. I walked back through Dumbo just as it started to get busy with the morning rush hour, the dreamlike loneliness of the pier was gone and a different kind of New York set in.
STUDIO VISIT- ELISSA LEVY
My last stop on the trip was to visit Elissa levy. We met at her East Williamsburg studio to discuss works for the exhibition in Baltimore this Fall. Like Alicia Scardetta, Levy’s work holds clear evidence of the human hand and feel delicate in their creation. Levy’s current mediums of choice are newspaper, plaster, and Hydrocal. In the fringed newspaper pieces she starts with imagery of men in positions of power or male power imagery that she finds in newspapers- mostly the New York Times. The men are embellished with paint and pens and the pages on which they exist are fringed, becoming beautiful textile-esque pieces. The shapes of many of the pieces play with the rectangle of the newspaper page, they become diamonds or even organic. There are also interesting gestures within the folds and cuts of the paper.
These gestures carry over into her sculptural works, also containing newspaper. The sculptural forms look like tiny pillows that hold the imprint of a head or the squish of a hand. The images within are shredded in ways that reference the works on paper. Many of these pieces also contain the figure but some also include landscapes and natural disasters, not otherwise seen in the wall works. The heft of the medium coincides with many of the images, one looks like a chunk of delicate rock pulled from the land it’s depicting. Elissa shares her affinity for the New York Times imagery and how a residency in Scotland left her with less interesting political visual material. We talked about trashy newspapers found in the UK and she shows me a piece that came from the very sensational papers discussed.
Levy is now experimenting with scanning and printing the newspapers as singular objects, focusing on the folds and shapes created from a crumpled paper that is flattened. There is an interesting disconnect between the delicate newspapers and their new existence as prints.
Saltie – Food
Elissa was kind enough to recommend and join me on a lunch outing to Saltie in Williamsburg. Satlie is small and offers mostly sandwiches. They are simply created but with unexpected combinations like salsa and sardines! For a vegetarian like me it was great- hearty but not bland! I had the Clean Slate, a veggie/yogurt combo on toasted Naan. I recommend a visit if you ever find yourself wandering in Williamsburg.