Photo Essays

A Hot and Colorful Day on the Northside

by Hrag Vartanian on June 23, 2011

Works by Yasamin Keshtkar (click to enlarge)

This year’s Northside Open Studios (formerly Greenpoint Open Studios) benefited from the publicity associated with the major north Brooklyn art, film and music festival, but what it didn’t have was the art world buzz that the Bushwick Open Studios enjoys after years of promotion.

I personally think north Brooklyn is big enough for two major open studio events and, in my opinion, any opportunity to discover new talents or see artists in their natural habitat (well, one of their natural habitats, the other being bars) is more than welcome.

If this year’s Northside Open Studios felt sparse and spread out, it did remind me a little of Bushwick’s annual studio blowout circa 2008. Sure some artists who listed their studios weren’t open when I swung by (and even one gallery was closed) and there simply isn’t the same studio building density that there is in other more industrial neighborhoods, but that’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of good stuff to see.

Here are some things I spotted.

When I asked the artist, Beck Berrett, the title of the painting in the center of this image, she told me the truncated title — apparently the secret is part of the surpise. It is titled “A bird whispered in God’s ear…” (2011) .

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I liked this luscious work by Yasamin Keshtkar, who has recently been creating these paint out of the tube works. Another read “good weed, white wine, i come alive, in the nitetime…”

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A view of Amélie Mancini’s studio. Her work reminded me a lot of early David Hockney.

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A wall work by Michelle Kaufman is titled “Time Sequence III” (2011?). In other words: art wins!

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A view of Todd Bienvenu’s studio of painterly chaos.

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I really liked Malado Baldwin’s new large shaped drawings on canvas, like this chair and side table work in the center. Her architectural collages where also a welcome new addition to her visual arsenal.

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For me, one of the biggest pleasures of an open studio event is discovering new artists. Here is Max Key’s “Blood Oranges and Apple Cores” (2008), which was as ornate as I could imagine everyday fruit could get.

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William Suran’s studio was filled with layered paintings that place one level of imagery over another and another until it was as elaborately geometric as lace.

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I spotted one of the festival organizers, Joann Kim, showing off her blazing blue nail polish at the India Street Arts Festival, near the new East River ferry pier. On the left, by the wall, you can see Sherry Aliberti’s “Cocoon Playground” (2011), which is a “playground” designed for “playing inside.”

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I also ran into Julie Torres, who did a “live-painting installation” of 9×12 inch acrylic works that visitors were able to take home.

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A welcome break from looking at art, a walk through McGorlick Park is an oasis without the scene of the larger McCarren Park a few blocks away.

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I stopped by the Janet Kurnatowski Gallery to see their new show, Temporary Antumbra Zone, which is curated by Udora Hajimik (a pseudonym of the two curators). The whole show was comprised of two artists who worked together to create a work under a pseudonym. In the foreground is Udora Hajimik’s (aka Elisa Lendvay & JJ Manford)”Cabinet of Flotsam” (2011).

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A view of (left) The Heroes’s (aka Michael Kenney & Katherine Young) “Releasing Bound Water from Green Material (Dissolution)” (2011) and (lower right) Sherman T’s (aka Ryan Franklin & Elisa Lendvay) “Thoughtform” (2011).

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I was looking forward to Booklyn’s zine fair and I wasn’t disappointed by feminist micropublisher Belladonna’s nice assortment of chapbooks (I bought Danielle Dutton’s A World Called the Blazing World, and the I snapped up another from Booklyn’s table, Slaves of Christo (great title!) by Julia Hall & Chrissy Leggio.

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A view of Booklyn’s gallery space with an assortment of prints and publications, including an old-style press and a toilet made out of paper-mâché (complete with unflushed turd).

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Leif Parson’s colorful style seemed like a form of visual collage.

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Artist James Gulliver Hancock wants to draw all the buildings in New York. It may sound like an odd thing to do, but the drawings are pretty cool (and would probably make a great book).

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J. Morrison (right) set up a pop-up shop in his studio in the Pencil Factory.

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Morrison also had these homo-erotic unique prints available for sale.

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A view of Ines Sun’s work at the Pencil Factory.

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Jackie Hoving’s brightly patterned work is a trip I’d love to be on.

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I saw Stacy Fisher’s work last year and it keeps looking better and better.

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Rossa Cole (aka Point Green Pictures) makes sculptures out of trash and twigs. Here, he’s created a shack using credit cards that lives off the grid and steals power (his words).

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One of the best shows that took part in Northside Open Studios was the untitled exhibition at the North Henry Annex. Here, Aaron Gilbert’s “Patricide” (nd) is beautifully placed on a decaying wall.

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Aaron Gilbert was my favorite artist in the North Henry Annex show. His painter here, “Plumage” (nd), has the odd sexuality of a Balthus but with the coolness of a work by Edward Hopper or alienation of a George Tooker.

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Aaron Gilbert’s “Soap and Porcelain” (2008) was perfectly placed in this closet-like space. Blink and you may miss it.

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Other works at the North Henry Annex show were Nathan Whipple’s photograph (left), “Doggies at Night No.7″ (2011), and Bradford Willingham’s “Untitled” (2011) video work.

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Colby Bird’s “Table” (2011) in the foreground worked well in the wood-panelled room and, on the wall, hands Kirsten Deirup’s “Untitled” (2011) gouache work on paper.

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Northside Open Studios took place from Friday, June 17 to Sunday, June 19.


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  • Anonymous

    This is great. Thanks for this. You should of come to my studio, too, though.

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