Photo Essays

The Elements of Artmaking, at Bushwick Open Studios

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Raul de Nieves and Erik Zajaceskowski, “Thank You” (2015) at Black & White Gallery/Project Space (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

In his studio, an artist stenciled unicorns to disco music, while upstairs a poetry reading was taking place in the same room as a makeshift tattoo parlor. At 56 Bogart, the largest single cluster of galleries and studios at Bushwick Open Studios, it’s as much about performing the artist as exhibiting art. Sometimes artists took creative license in how they exhibited their work: one had friends sporting his colorful, sparkly, and red leopard print t-shirts, which had phrases like “Forever Open” and “kick my face” sewed on the front; another chose to scatter her watercolors over her desk rather than hang them on the walls to simulate the experience of the artist at work.

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Artist Bil Donovan’s shelf (click to enlarge)

The downstairs galleries seemed to shift the focus away from the artist and toward the viewer, with a number of installations that created immersive experiences: at Black & White Gallery/Project Space, Raul de Nieves and Erik Zajaceskowski built colorful mounds out of plastics and refuse that you snaked through, the floors similarly glazed in colorful plastic, while ABBA played on a record. At Momenta Art, Justin Randolph Thompson constructed a spinning contraption where visitors could sit and get their shoes gold-leafed. In the corner, two musicians played jazz. As with a number of galleries at Bogart, however, these installations did little more than make you stop, look, wonder, and move on.

What’s most unusual and memorable about 56 Bogart, and Bushwick Open Studios in general, is the context of seeing the wide selection of brushes, hammers, and scraps of material that artists keep alongside their work, as well as the books (Lacan, Barthes, Alain de Botton) and miscellaneous objects (rabbit masks, plastic skeletons) used for inspiration. We can imagine something coming into being as we observe an artist spin clay on a wheel or as we connect the dots between newspaper clippings of steel construction sites and photos of structured dresses on an artist’s pinboard. Jessica Sara Wilson, whose video project simulates the forming of an embryo, explained that what we saw on her computer screen was not the final product — she envisions projecting it on a large, curved surface, like a planetarium. “You know, that’s the point about BOS,” she said, “the works are in progress.” Below are some of these works.

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Seren Morey uses pigmented beeswax and Ultralight acrylic to make forms that look like “tendons or intestines.”
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The tentacle-like forms and fleshy, undulating cavities of Morey’s works recall the sculptures of British artist Cathy De Monchaux.
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Bil Donovan referred to these drawings as his “commercial work,” which includes making magazine spreads for Christian Dior.
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Donovan refers to these drawings as being representative of his “soul.”
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Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao, ‘CHIAOZZA’ (2014), a series of objects meant to blur boundaries between painting, sculpture, and furniture
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Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao, “Desert plants” (2014). The two artists left a note to say they were out of town.
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Liene Bosquê makes impressions and molds out of architectural details of buildings and sites that are under threat of disappearing.
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Over the years, Bosquê has collected souvenirs from the various places she’s traveled and casts them in porcelain.
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Carol Salmanson makes ‘gesture drawings’ out of LED lights that are no longer made
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One of Salmanson’s ‘Calligraphic Transmissions,’ gouache on paper
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Mother Pigeon‘s installation of pigeons outside 56 Bogart

Bushwick Open Studios 2015 continues through June 7. See Hyperallergic’s picks and recommendations here.

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