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Opening night of the 2014 Bushwick Open Studios took place on a cool May night, and thousands of people were bouncing between art spaces, bars, restaurants, and private studios to meet friends, share stories, and talk about how much the neighborhood has changed.
The sprawl of Bushwick’s art community has reached further west than ever before as spaces west of Myrtle are now conveniently located near cocktail bars, organic food shops, and late night music venues.
The demographics of Bushwick Open Studio visitors has also changed, with more diversity (age, cultural, and geographic) than ever before.
For the first night of #BOS2014, I chose to explore the outlying galleries and group shows, spaces that continue to push the edges of a community that clusters around the L train, starting at Grand Street and continuing until Myrtle.
Kings and Queens at Lorimoto
Ever since this private space opened as a venue for art, it has been a good place to discover emerging artists rarely seen elsewhere. This time Charlotte Becket’s mesmerizing “breathing” sculptures were the real treat, as their shadowy forms and biological names, “Spore” (2012) and “Canker” (2012), evoke tumors that move slowly like the inevitability of death (short vid below). Alex Chowaniec’s work also had medical associations with forms that looked like they could’ve sprung out of a petri dish after a series of mutations. — Lorimoto, 1623 Hancock St., Ground Floor, Ridgewood, Queens
This home gallery only pops up annually during Bushwick Open Studios but there is always something good on view, like Ellen Lechter’s oddly appealing “Flag” (2014) made of seersucker and a frame, Jessica Ralli’s acrylic and gouache abstract paintings that were cerebral and stoic, and Liam O’Malley’s work that combines wax, shells, paint, and dried plants, feeling like they are equal parts hobby and art. The curation this year was the weakest link, but consider it a series of artist studios strung together and go anyway. — Harthaus (1042 Hart St, Ground Floor, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Photograph 2 at Silver Projects
A solid work of curation, Photograph 2 combined the work of three artists (Michelle McLaughlin, Erin O’Keefe, and Coleman Downing) that use the language of abstraction to draw you into their complex and elusive visions. My only critique was that this work, as small and precious as it was, would’ve benefited from a more precise hanging, instead of simply tacking up works on the wall. Erin O’Keefe’s “empty” works, which are consumed with the visual trickery of refracted and hollowed out space, feel like a fresh take on a common trope in contemporary art — the crisp renderings contribute to the illusion of nothingness. — Silver Projects (796 Broadway, 3rd Floor, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Vacancy NYC at 929 Broadway
Sadly, I arrived too late to this rather new space on Broadway and it was already closed, but I was able to peek through the window to see a glimpse of a group show that includes the work of nine artists. I was also able to snap a pic to give you a taste. — Vacancy NYC (929 Broadway, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Meryl Meiser’s Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick at Bizarre Black Box Gallery
Walking in the basement gallery of Bizarre Bushwick felt like walking into a makeshift disco party. The walls were filled with Meryl Meiser’s striking juxtapositions of photographs from the 1970s and 80s that depict the Manhattan disco scene and burned-out Bushwick views. Disco lights all around, smoke from a hidden smoke machine, and disco music complete the transformation, as guests tapped their feet and photographers mingled with the crowd to snap pics of visitors posing and gawking at the images. Hyperallergic reviewer Melissa Stern offered her assessment of the exhibition in a review we published yesterday. — Bizarre Black Box Gallery (12 Jefferson Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Do It Yourself Exhibition
Undoubtedly the biggest group show of #BOS2014, Do It Yourself is a sprawling collection of mini-exhibits that snake through the large former 3rd Ward space (Livestream has since moved into the second floor). One of the most intriguing aspects of the display was the two curator rooms, where one curator assembled the art in one half, while the other half was organized by another — the results were curiously seamless. One room curated by Sean Montgomery and Julie Alexander was my favorite, as Esther Ruiz’s small glowing neon and cement works had an obvious relationship with sculptures by Benjamin King and Jay Henderson across the room. Make sure to check out the surfaces of Henderson’s wall work, one (pictured below) has a seductive quality that resembles the reflective sheen of mercury. Another good room was curated by Peter Shear and Brian Cypher, and Leif Low-Beer (I’m guessing that’s not his real name, though you never know) has constructed precarious sculptures by stacking common objects — I was told only gravity kept them together though some gallerists have been trying to convince him to fasten them some way as they would prove hard to sell if they were always on the verge of falling apart. But these are not the only treats at DIY, as you can easily discover clusters of good paintings by Katherine Bradford, a sculpture by Rachel Beach, wonderfully misshapen paintings by Maria Walker, and other surprises around every corner. — 195 Morgan Avenue (195 Morgan Ave, Ground Floor, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
True to its names, Mixtape! is a collection of favorites by curators Sophia Alexandrov and Todd Bienvenu. While the curatorial program is more eclectic, there is a lot of good work, including everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-but-always-with-a-splash-of-paint sculptures by Emily Noelle Lambert and the almost opposite minimalist sculpture of Joy Curtis. I was also fascinated by Meg Lipke’s painting which looked like a painting getting a heart transplant — or something. — 195 Morgan Ave, Second Floor, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn