Events

Your Concise Guide to the 2016 Bushwick Open Studios

Bushwick. (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Bushwick: ain’t no Basel. (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

The weather is cool, cafés are selling pumpkin-flavored treats, and it’s time for Bushwick Open Studios (BOS)! Yes, that sounds weird, but it’s the new reality: BOS is an autumnal event now, and it actually sounds quite pleasant — walking around with a breeze in the air, not trying to cut conversations with artists short because you’re having trouble breathing in their un-air-conditioned studios.

In this, its 10th year, BOS will see a return to its roots and its core focus: the artists of Bushwick. Event organizer Arts in Bushwick has spent time rethinking and retooling New York City’s largest open studios event, and the result is a quieter, gentler BOS: no more art fair, nary a branded party in sight, and, generally, far less distraction.

Which isn’t to say there’s not a ton to see this weekend. But it seems, happily, that most of it is art, whether it’s inside artists’ studios or on gallery walls or installed in other unusual spaces (a storage unit, anyone?) around the sprawling neighborhood. There’s a full directory of listings online, but we’ve done the work of sorting through it for you. Below, our picks for what to see and do at the pared-down but still really big BOS 2016, which runs October 1–2, as well as a convenient map of where to find them.

And don’t forget to follow Hyperallergic on Instagram; we’ll be posting photos from BOS all weekend.

Artist Studios

As mentioned, there’s a lot less distraction piled onto this year’s edition of BOS, but it’s worth repeating that the event is, first and foremost, about visiting artists in their studios. The setup can be intimidating or a little awkward, sure, but grab a pretzel stick or whatever else they’re offering and take the plunge. It’s a rare chance — and a very rewarding one — to be able to hang out with artists in their spaces and talk to them about their work; take it. (And don’t be afraid to ask about prices.)

Ceramic sculptures by Lulu Yee in her studio at 1717 Troutman Street (photo by Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic)
Ceramic sculptures by Lulu Yee in her studio at 1717 Troutman Street (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

 1717 Troutman Street (Ridgewood): Despite a mass eviction of galleries two years ago, this building remains one of the hubs of artists’ studios in Bushwick (well, Ridgewood, but close enough). While wandering the halls, keep an eye out for Kate Liebman’s (#258) choppy paintings that look abstract but are sometimes hiding bodies (or their parts); Lulu Yee’s intricately painted ceramic figures; Pablo Garcia Lopez’s steampunk-meets-baroque sculptures made from silk and spray foam; and the good-looking group showing in studio 315 organized by artist Bob Stanzyr.

 41 Varick Avenue (Bushwick): Smaller in size but no less lacking in talent, 41 Varick boasts a strong lineup this year. Our favorites include Emilia Olsen, who considers global warming through paintings of plants; Natalie Baxter (listed in 41 Varick but with instructions to enter through 28 Varick, #11), who sews together soft, drooping guns; and studio 303, where, among other artists and possible encounters, you can talk to Man Bartlett about meditative sound and outer space or break down the gender binary with Katya Grokhovsky.

Plaster casts by Susan Silas (image courtesy the artist)
Susan Silas, “plaster casts (1992, 2012)” (2016) (image courtesy the artist)

 The Active Space (566 Johnson Avenue, Bushwick): A neighborhood mainstay, the Active Space boasts studios for several dozen artists, many of whom will have their doors open this weekend. Go see Hyperallergic contributor Susan Silas (#27), whose photographs of dead birds and plaster casts of her face will get you thinking about mortality; Joe Bochynski (#32), who has set himself up as a clerk with the fictional NYC Department of Archeology and will be showing fragments from this year’s “dig” in the city; and Nick Greenwald, who will attempt to draw a card for every visitor who passes through his studio (and wants one).

 592 Johnson: The 1896 Studios (592 Johnson Avenue, Bushwick): This building may have a confusing (and pretentious) name, but among its handful of artists seek out Joey Parlett’s astonishingly detailed drawings (he’ll have zines for sale!), Jen Shepard’s whimsical abstract installations, and a mysterious studio offering “Fucked up Technology,” where you can “launch bankers, DDoS your enemies, and use microbes to troll the NSA.” Enticing.

 Sahana Ramakrishnan (56 Bogart Street, Bushwick): Ramakrishnan’s humanoid bodies seem handed down from myth. She renders them with a light, loose touch amid carefully wrought scenes that suggest sexuality or violence (occasionally both). Her use of materials such as gold leaf, string, and rhinestones is especially adept, as she incorporates them seamlessly into the washed surfaces of her surreal worlds.

 Erin Sweeny (227 Troutman Street, Ridgewood): Sweeny makes work that tracks the experiences of life through objects that can contain traces of them — for example, “The Landing,” a wooden box she made that conforms to the exact dimensions of an NYC post office box. For BOS, she’ll be showing a host of recent work and discussing “The Landing Project,” which turns that post office box into a “platform” of sorts, for which she’s seeking contributors.

 Montgomery Perry Smith (979 Willoughby Avenue, Bushwick): Smith takes decoration to an extreme degree, singling out and enlarging what look like tassels from an old general’s coat or the buttons on a gentlewoman’s dress. Paired with titles like “you will never love me again” and “I think I feel it inside me, the insanity,” they conjure a captivating effect of incompletion, like sentences paused part-way through.

Sessa Englund's crying mugs (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
Sessa Englund’s crying mugs (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

 Sessa Englund (1548 Greene Avenue, Bushwick): When we last encountered Englund, she was selling keychains of her Instagram photos and deleting the photos from Instagram upon purchase. She also had a display of mugs printed with images of her crying face. Her BOS listing says there will be sculpture, perhaps of a more traditional sort, but knowing Englund, it will have a sense of humor.

Group Shows

BOS is about talking to artists one-on-one in their studios. But it’s inevitable that you’ll want to visit the exhibitions, too — they are, after all, another good way to see work. Some of them take place in studios; some are in galleries; one is in a living room that doubles as a gallery — because Bushwick. Almost all of them keep the focus on the neighborhood and spotlight local artists.

 Seeking Space: Making the Future

Loren Munk’s "Bushwick Map" (2015) (image via artsinbushwick.org)
Loren Munk, “Bushwick Map” (2015) (image via artsinbushwick.org)

When: Opens September 30, 6–10pm; Saturday, October 1, and Sunday, October 2, 1–6pm
Where: David & Schweitzer Contemporary (56 Bogart Street, Bushwick)

Inaugurating the new David & Schweitzer Contemporary, BOS’s annual open call exhibition features work by 305 artists ruminating on how to sustain Bushwick as a creative community. While the show looks forward, it coincides with the launch of a publication that looks back: Arts in Bushwick’s 400-page, 10-year-anniversary book, Making History Bushwick, which tracks the timeline of the organization and its involvement in the rapidly changing neighborhood.

 Bushwick Chronicle

When: Saturday, October 1, and Sunday, October 2, 1–5pm
Where: Stout Projects (55 Meadow Street, Bushwick)

Another exhibition that reflects on history, Bushwick Chronicle pairs Meryl Meisler’s photographs of Bushwick’s artists, gallerists, writers, and organizers with writings about the neighborhood by James Panero — an attempt to document the creative community before it’s gone.

 REMAINING/REMINDING/REMAINS/REMAINDERS

When: Saturday, October 1, and Sunday, October 2, 11am–7pm
Where: 104 Meserole Street (Williamsburg)

The always thoughtful Panoply Performance Laboratory will do some reflecting of its own this year, on art in Bushwick before the days of branding and gentrification. This exhibition features artists “who were working in performance art before it became a joke on TV, artists who use ‘recycled materials’ because they are free, artists whose politics, identities, and ‘socio-ethics’ are core elements of practice not marketing tools.”

 Open Space

Björn Meyer-Ebrecht's 'Communal Table' at BOS 2014 (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)
Björn Meyer-Ebrecht’s ‘Communal Table’ at BOS 2014 (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

When: Opens Thursday, September 29, 7–10pm; Saturday, October 1, and Sunday, October 2, 12–7pm
Where: 1182 Flushing Avenue, 2nd floor (Bushwick)

For the past two editions of BOS, artist Björn Meyer-Ebrecht has organized inventive group shows that fit within the space of his studio — one on top of a table that he made, the other inside a room that he built. This year he’ll take a looser approach, hanging exclusively works on paper on “large and small wall elements propped against the studio walls,” in an investigation of open space (also the show’s title). You won’t want to miss it.

 Frankenstein Admires a Flower

When: Saturday, October 1, and Sunday, October 2, 12–7pm
Where: Factory ArtSpace (1630 Stephen Street, Ridgewood)

Organized by the collective Poissonblanc at the new Factory ArtSpace, this show departs from a delightful premise: “We recently acquired a truck load of pedestals from the Fischli and Weiss show at the Guggenheim Museum.” Participating artists — including Lisa Levy, MTAA, and Marcy Chevali — consider the pedestal as platform, frame, or art object itself.

 Made in Ridgewood

When: Saturday, October 1, and Sunday, October 2, 12–7pm
Where: OUTPOST Artists Resources (1665 Norman Street, Ridgewood)

You’ll be seeing a lot of art made in Bushwick; how about that’s made next-door in Ridgewood, Queens? This exhibition brings together work by the members of the Ridgewood Artists Coalition, which promotes the neighborhood’s creators, and by the residents of OUTPOST, which focuses on aiding artists with technological projects.

 NOMENCoLorATURE II

When: Saturday, October 1, 2–6pm
Where: Centotto (250 Moore Street, #108, Bushwick)

The concept is strict but simple: Participating artists were instructed to mix a color and paint it onto a six-by-six-inch wood panel that is about an inch deep. They then named the color however they wanted and wrote it on the back of the panel (along with their name). More than 150 artists participated; see what they dreamed up.

 Mextasis

When: Opens Friday, September 30, Saturday, October 1, and Sunday, October 2, 6:30–9:30pm
Where: 476 Jefferson Street (Bushwick)

This juried show of Mexican artists isn’t exactly a local affair, but it promises to infuse a welcome dose of diversity into an art scene that’s predominantly white.

Performance & Festivals

For those craving something a little more active, a little more visceral than (mostly) art hanging on walls, BOS has you covered. Here are a few performances and festivals worth checking out.

 Grattan Street Performance Block Party

When: Saturday, October 1, 12–6pm
Where: Grattan Street between Bogart and Morgan (Bushwick)

When you’re feeling art overload and all the abstract paintings start running together, we find it’s helpful to take a break with some live performance. This block party, presented jointly by the Pine Box Rock Shop, Spread Art, and thingNY, will feature a curated roster of performers all day, from Philadelphia dancer and choreographer Megan Bridge to New York poet performer Jana Astanov.

(image via artsinbushwick.org)
(image via artsinbushwick.org)

 The Knickerbocker Avenue Strange Science and Terror Radio Program

When: Saturday, October 1, 7–11pm
Where: 1087 Flushing Avenue (Bushwick)

A live theatrical performance of scifi radio show content to the accompaniment of a live orchestra” — need we say more?!

 Paper Jam Small Press Festival

When: Saturday, October 1, 12–6:30pm
Where: Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Avenue, Bushwick)

With the NY Art Book Fair already two weeks behind us, you should be recuperated and ready to dig into zines, comics, and small press publications once again. Held at the beloved Silent Barn, Paper Jam promises to be especially experimental and local in its offerings (and will have an animation showcase for the first time this year).

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