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Installation view, ‘Caroline Paquita: Garden of the Womanimal’ at Booklyn Artists Alliance (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

Were you as exhausted by the frenzy that surrounded New York’s Frieze Week as I was? Taking a break from the monied and crushing crowds, I took my antidote on Friday evening via Greenpoint Gallery Night, a low-key, casual affair featuring more than a dozen local galleries in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

The standout for me that night was Caroline Paquita at Booklyn Artists Alliance. Her show, Garden of the Womanimal, is a colorful delight that revels in hairy vaginas, light-up boobies, probing tongues, and of course, magical half-women/half-animal creatures. It’s a treasure trove of soft dolls, sculptures, drawings, paintings, and zines. Paquita’s drawn artworks and prints are precise, cartoony, fun, and exuberant.

Other noteworthy spaces and shows from the night include Bunker259, which pairs an artwork and a text by different creators for each show. Currently a text by LA-based artist, curator, and poet Keith J. Varadi accompanies a clever installation by Ivin Ballen. Ballen’s centerpiece is a large, tactile painting featuring fragments of pastel-colored resin mimicking splintered wood and part of a stair. The work is affixed with pieces of putty or clay, while two chairs and a table in the center of the room also form part of the show. Look twice at the chairs and examine them: the seat and backing look like black painted wood, but in fact are resin as well.

Work by Kenji Nakayam at Calico (click to enlarge)

Calico has a group show called Dialect, the gems of which are Kenji Nakayama’s elegant and contemplative paintings of enamel and acrylic on matte board. With atmospheric brushes of blue paint and contrails of pink and red, they conjure up the blazing beauty inside a particle accelerator.

Fowler Project Space also opened a fun group exhibition, Game Show, which is inspired by the “materials, structures, behaviors, or rules of an existing games in order to highlight the possibilities of frustration and failure inherent in any game,” according to exhibition literature. Okay, but let’s get to the point: there is a Coney Island Skee-ball machine in the exhibit that’s rigged with analog and digital modifications that react to the player/viewer. A great piece by Kurt Freyer, it lends a carnival atmosphere to the show. A piece by Elizabeth Hoy, called “Fowl Game,” is an elegant tableau utilizing her father’s cribbage set; a pile of turkey feathers from her parent’s yard sits atop the board. It’s a quiet, contemplative work that delves into memory and engagement.

Kurt Freyer’s Coney Island Skee-ball machine at Fowler Project Space

The shows of Greenpoint Gallery Night are set in small, often one-room venues that put the artwork front and center. Intimate and laid back, they’re a contrast to the glossed high-temple art galleries elsewhere in the city.  And a survey of them shows that despite the modest surroundings, the art in Greenpoint is a cut above.

Elizabeth Hoy, “Fowl Game” at Fowler Project Space

More Caroline Paquita at Booklyn

Paquita at Booklyn

Ivin Ballen at Bunker259

Greenpoint Gallery Night took place at various venues throughout Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on May 9, from 7 to 10 pm. Hyperallergic was the media sponsor for the evening.

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Sharon Adarlo

Sharon Adarlo is a freelance writer and artist based in Newark, NJ. She used to cover crime in Newark for the Star-Ledger. Her writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera...