Reactor

See the Work of GO Brooklyn’s 5 Winning Artists

by Kyle Chayka on November 29, 2012

The GO Brooklyn winners (Illustration by Hyperallergic)

Last September, GO Brooklyn presented a chance for New York locals to discover a new side of non-traditional art neighborhoods, with 1,708 artists opening their studios to visitors in areas like Fort Greene, Crown Heights, and even Coney Island. After a round of voting and a final list of 10 nominees, the Brooklyn Museum’s curators have chosen five artists to show at the museum.

Below, check out the artists and their work. The list does focus heavily on conservative painting, and notably leaves out Williamsburg and Bushwick, neighborhoods usually known as art destinations (of North Brooklyn, only Greenpoint was represented in the top 10). The selection does represent a nice view into local art-making, however.

Adrian Coleman

Fort Greene, painting

Adrian Coleman, “Early Morning Ride Home” (All images courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

Adrian Coleman, “G Train at 4th and 9th Street”

Coleman translates the paradox of the picturesque to the American urban setting. His paintings speak to the daily experiences of urban life.

Oliver Jeffers

Boerum Hill, painting, illustration, and drawing

Oliver Jeffers, “Before My Time”

Jeffers’s figurative paintings probe the gap between “logical thinking and emotional understanding,” meditating on the quality of memory. The use of color in this painting points to a certain deconstruction of nostalgia.

Naomi Safran-Hon

Prospect Heights, painting

Naomi Safran-Hon, “Home Invasion XII”

Naomi Safran-Hon, “Absent Present Wadi Salib 18 Green Wall”

Safran-Hon uses cement and lace to collage photographs she took of Haifa’s Wadi Salib neighborhood in her native Israel, visualizing the political partition of the land. Her dense pieces speak to the division of physical space by human abstractions like politics and ideology. Hyperallergic’s Jillian Steinhauer covered her work here.

Gabrielle Watson

Crown Heights, painting

Gabrielle Watson, Untitled

Watson’s paintings make up a visual diary, uncovering the non-political African-American experience. She often creates portraits of friends and acquaintances, casting them in a bright, graphic painting style.

Yeon Ji Yoo

Red Hook, mixed media sculpture

Yeon Ji Yoo, “In the Darkness”

Yeon Ji Yoo, “Silkworm Memories”

Yoo’s organic sculptures spin fiber and plants into meditations on death, respiration, and decomposition. For GO Brooklyn, it looks like she’ll be showing more two-dimensional works that animate collaged surfaces with fiber and yarn.

Now that the winners have been chosen, I wonder what will become of the GO program. Could it be a biannual event for the museum, highlighting local artists? A more interesting possibility might be taking the GO model elsewhere, hosting open-studio events in international cities and bringing the winners back to Brooklyn to be introduced to a brand new audience. I’d love to see a GO: Tokyo or GO: Berlin!

The Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition, GO: a community-curated open studio project, opens on December 1 and runs through February 24. 

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  • Violet Gates

    The artists on view here are clearly sincere and hardworking, but their community, peers, and educations have all failed. I was suspicious of the whole “GO” thing from the get-go, but this is only a model for retrograde sunday painters. Harsh words, but honesty is required. The good news is that any one of these artists could be making valid work sooner than later if they ask themselves some hard questions and adjust their goals to actually communicate unknown difficult ideas.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brianmoz Brian Fernandes-Halloran

      I think what your saying should be directed at the trends of American contemporary art, not at GO or these specific artists.

      • Violet Gates

        My comments have some application to contemporary art, but what Go has produced is not contemporary. Can you really look at this work and say that it creating a new dialogue or communication?

        • http://www.facebook.com/brianmoz Brian Fernandes-Halloran

          I don’t think their art creates new dialog, but it is contemporary (Definition: of the present time) People often use the term contemporary art to mean either ideal contemporary art or successful contemporary art. But I would say that the vast majority of Brooklyn based contemporary art does not deal with contemporary issues at all. In fact most artist default to avoid any definable position what so ever. So I wanted to say that this kind of crowd sourcing can reveal what is the norm without being responsible for causing it to be that way. From what I have seen, it seems like there are a handful of orgs in Brooklyn, mostly non profits with defined socially aware missions, that curate consistently engaged art that really addresses our times. Momenta, Nurture and Triangle are the ones I found. If you know some to check out let me know.

          • Violet Gates

            Aside from the semantics I agree, but this work seems even more trapped in dogma and academia than other work I have seen in this borough contemporary or not. But i should not expect much from a program run by an institution. GO was worth a shot but its only value seems to be showing the limits of an antiquated way of making and showing. If we want more its up to us.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brianmoz Brian Fernandes-Halloran

            right on! I have found, Triangle, Momenta and Nurture to facilitate some great, engaged art making/viewing but these are small institutions. Much art made in Brooklyn is in closed door, sterile (many even prison like in design) studio complexes. You can see why so many artists are flocking to places like Berlin where neither establishment nor high prices have taken hold of the arts community to such a degree.

            Recently I’ve been involved in and witnessed meaningful collaborations that have been informal in the formation of the collaboration and art making while formalized only in the exhibition, and promotion. Its difficult to separate the cultural norms of a highly corporation dependent culture from the act of art making. Its hard to know where the blame lies in banal work in this environment but its is probably between somewhere and everywhere.

          • Guest

            I share your concerns. Even the smaller foreward thinking places such as momenta tend to still be rooting in gallery space as white wall stripped of context. I have tried to go the route of building up relationships with local business to reconcieve how art can exist in the first place. bit of a large project but have had fun trying out a different path.

          • Violet Gates

            Bit of a problem on my mobile here, that comment below is me. Just will add that I am collaborating with a friend which has helped, but it’s amazing how few “artists” will change their work one bit even as they complain about how the market does not work for them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brianmoz Brian Fernandes-Halloran

            I went to the town hall meeting and there was a low turnout. It was more a panel with questions. It was clear the organizers worked their best to make a truly overt form interface between artist, neighbors, and institution. There is so much confusion around how work gets shown where. GO seemed to go against this current and make things obvious.
            Go cannot be blamed for the fact that there is almost no art that is revolutionary. Maybe we all get squeezed and fall in line whether its by vote, hipster venues, Chelsea corporate or purely decorative art. Whatever the design there is always a screening process that stops the obscene but necessary.

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