If Friday night is the night for gallery openings in Bushwick, then last Thursday in Chelsea was a type of artistic foreplay.
You could tell that something was in the air by the density of Bushwick regulars in front of Chelsea’s Standpipe Gallery on West 25th Street. And indeed, a group show Fresh Paint From Bushwick, which features seven emerging Bushwick talents (Gina Beavers, Holly Coulis, Halsey Hathaway, Rachel LaBine, Kerry Law, Adam Simon and Josette Urso), was just opening that night.
Alison Pierz, founder and gallery director of Standpipe, entrusted the curation of the show to Bushwick diehard Deborah Brown. Unlike many artists who simply work or live in Bushwick, Brown has transformed her open obsession with her adopted barrio into a multifaceted thing. She has co-founded the local Storefront Gallery, she is a board member of the Bushwick-based nonprofit Nurture Art and she also serves on the local community board — how does she find time to paint?
“I had only one month to curate the show,” Brown says. She used her extensive knowledge of the local art scene and several trusted connections to find the perfect seven underappreciated talents. She says she stumbled upon some of the painters during this year’s Bushwick Open Studios, while others were suggestions by friends and colleagues.
The seven painters all work in different styles, varying from minimal abstraction to realism. However, they share one important thing: they create art in contemplation of a mesmerizing visual experience, in other words, they create beautiful paintings. Some commonalities I spotted were a love for pastel colors, a taste for soft shapes and a wide-eyed vision of the world.
In “Untitled” (2011), Rachel Labine uses a varied palette of colors: rich green edges, bright purple objects … I thought her painting resembles either an open window or a face. She created a dreamy effect using white spray paint across the center of the work.
The exhibition also features two beach painting by Kerry Law, who obviously loves to play with the details in the three bands that appear in each work: sky, sea and sand.
Artist Adam Simon uses stencils to repeat white figures on a dark background. Looking closer, you see — or do you imagine? — encounters and situations happening throughout the crowd of silhouettes.
Eight in the evening was a little too early to wrap up an art opening for the Bushwick art crowd, which is more accustomed to late nights and discussions about art over a can of cheap beer. But this fancier occasion demanded a change in elixir, so over margaritas those assembled post-opening discussed how an article in a major mainstream publication, like the New York Times, impacts the lives of Bushwick residents. Needless to say, there wasn’t a shortage of opinions.
Growing media interest in Bushwick as an arts mecca is a complicated thing. On one hand, the local community is trying to preserve Bushwick as an island of affordable rents in an expensive metropolis, on the other, the attention brings with it more exposure and the growing potential to succeed — like in Chelsea, for example.
Fresh Paint From Bushwick at Standpipe Gallery (150 W 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) continues until September 2.