Photo Essays

A Trip Through BETA Spaces

by James Daniel on November 16, 2010

The 2010 BETA Spaces map (click to enlarge) (via artsinbushwick.org/beta2010)

I spent my Sunday wandering into the living spaces of Bushwick, searching for art, and there was a lot to discover. Though, much of what I found seemed to have woken up at 11:30am to start setting up for the event that technically started at noon. Truly, I didn’t mind. Who am I to complain, when I’m spending my day invading the homes of artists?

The experience for me was as much about walking through the grey, unwelcoming streets of Bushwick as it was seeing the plethora of work being created there. It was stumbling around, looking for the garage entrance; It was walking down a dark, graffiti’d hallway, wondering if I was even on the right floor; and it was opening the many different doors to find vibrant colors, projections, snacks, wine, or any other sort of welcoming warmth.

Of course, being one of those people who feels tremendously awkward entering an unfamiliar home, I probably would have made it to very few of the spaces had I not begun the day with free mimosas. The sunlight and breakfast treats at Norte Maar’s Map n Mimosa event started me off expecting the best, and it was a good day.

The art I found didn’t blow my mind. There were many pieces I liked but most resonated as simply “pleasant,” as if most of what was seen were personal trinkets put on display out of kindness. I rarely was overwhelmed by any collection or overall exhibits, and yet the event as a whole was overwhelming. It showed that, if you look for it, there is a large, vibrant scene hiding behind the concrete and brick in Bushwick.

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Jason Andrew of Norte Maar with a visitor in front of a painting by Steve Harding.

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A view of the table at Norte Maar’s Maps n Mimosa event that kicked off the 2010 BETA Spaces.

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Arch Collective’s sign on Troutman.

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A view of Alex Kellum’s wall piece at Arch Collective.

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The urban wallpaper of a loft building hallway.

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A view of the “Make Yourself at Home” exhibition on Johnson Avenue.

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Another view of “Make Yourself at Home,” a show that the organizers described as a “visual exploration of the invasive suggestion that you ‘make yourself at home’.”

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A view of the “Future Archaeology: Here and Now” show by The Keep on Morgan which explored “ephemeral forms across media.”

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“Flan” on Grattan.

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Curator Mark Weathers put together a show titled “Boxed In and Out” which gave artists a small black box from which to work from.

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Some violent graffiti on the streets of Bushwick

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Signs battling for visitors’ attention.

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The 2010 BETA Space exhibition festival was organized by Arts in Bushwick and took place this past Sunday, November 14 in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

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  • http://twitter.com/chaykak Kyle Chayka

    Love the photo of the kitsch Chinese cat in the wall. Thanks so much for the documentation, James!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julie-Torres/807740186 Julie Torres

    Great photos, James! Such an awesome day!

    Btw- That is artist Shona Masarin standing with Jason Andrew– She created the amazing film install at Norte Maar. It was gorgeous! Loved it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3SFS35JJUGYWNPGCWYX3IRQWM4 Stephen Truax

    Caution: This is something we’re not supposed to say. Most of the art in Bushwick is “just ‘pleasant.'” This is just about as bad a review art can ever get.

    A perfect description of Sunday: the art is “not overwhelming, yet the event as a whole was overwhelming.” This produces, in me, a profound sense of despair. Hundreds of artists are producing art in one place, yet almost no one is producing art that is “overwhelming.”

    However, this article concludes, “[T]here is a large, vibrant scene hiding behind the concrete and brick in Bushwick.” Do we really feel that there is a vibrant scene, potentially of art historical significance, even when after a sweeping survey of the work being produced and exhibited in a neighborhood is just pleasant or underwhelming?

    • http://twitter.com/chaykak Kyle Chayka

      Maybe the vibrancy wasn’t overwhelming? Unfortunately, things can be diverse without necessarily being good.

      • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

        It’s actually not a review, just a photo essay and the photographer wrote the text. There will be other posts to follow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julie-Torres/807740186 Julie Torres

    I am guilty of not reading the article in its entirety and mostly looking at the pictures. So I would like to respond to both the article, and the comments.

    These events are so important and so enjoyable for artists, curators, art lovers and writers, and people who live/work in the neighborhoods they’re held in. I did find the shows to be vibrant, and not simply pleasant- and the people I met and spoke with as well.

    Highlights for me were: The Drawing Show at English Kills Minor- and the Wrapping Paper event in the back, Centotto, FLAN, Norte Maar and Mythologized– But I didn’t make it to a lot of other spaces that people seemed to enjoy.

    One of my favorite things about seeing and talking about art in Bushwick with friends and artists is that there is an open-minded, experimental, inclusive and collaborative approach that I haven’t found elsewhere. I do think it’s helpful to be mindful that experimentation in art does not have predictable outcomes, and shouldn’t. That most of us are making art for art’s sake, and nothing more. That you sometimes have to really LOOK and ask and talk about work that you may not immediately respond to, in order to fully experience it.

    I loved the event and walked around from 11am till 8pm taking it all in. Thanks to Arts in Bushwick and everyone who worked so hard to put it together.

  • Sugar

    Mark Weathers exhibit “Boxed In and Out”:
    left: “The blushing Boodah” by Wendaferd Gregory
    right: “Flan” by Eric Trosko

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3SFS35JJUGYWNPGCWYX3IRQWM4 Stephen Truax

    I am STILL interested in hearing ANYONE’s possibly negative review of BETA Spaces. I 100% agree that the events are great for artists, the neighborhood, etc.; but this article actually said something not 100% positive! Can we pursue that? Even a little?

    • gcs

      I think before any “negative” reviews are provoked one should keep in mind what BETA Spaces (a project of Arts in Bushwick) is about…
      From the website:
      “Arts In Bushwick has two core functions – producing neighborhood arts festivals, and facilitating community projects and dialogue. All of our activities are produced by volunteers and at no cost to the public.
      BETA Spaces (Bushwick Exhibition Triangle of Alternative Spaces) is a free one-day festival of conceptualized and thematic group exhibitions. The festival focuses on curatorial experimentation and collaboration. BETA Spaces is a one-day festival of independently curated, collaborative group exhibitions presented in a range of alternative spaces.”

      I have not seen a “negative” review written about any exhibition/event in the Bushwick art scene. Lead me to it if there has been. So why start with BETA Spaces when it is clearly what it is intended to be? It is what it is. If you have recommendations to fine tune to your liking join the volunteer committee.

      My advice would be to encourage critical dialogue (negative reviews) of the so called alternative Bushwick galleries with year round exhibition schedules. That might, one would hope, help to foster exhibitions that might one day overwhelm you!

      just sayin’ :)

  • Masarin4

    Yes, thanks for clearing that up Julie. That is indeed the very gifted and talented Shona Masarin from Australia, standing with Jason Andrews.
    Don’t take my word for it, google Shona Masarin and check her out for yourself. Her super 8mm found-footage collage work is amazing.

  • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

    I haven’t published mine yet :) Stay tuned.

  • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

    I don’t think a negative review is being provoked but we all want to see the Bushwick art scene thrive and grow but only with healthy criticism can that happen.

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