On Saturday evening about 300 people descended on the tiny People’s Garden under the elevated J and Z tracks in Bushwick for the opening of Paintings in Trees, a group show of paintings, drawings, and sculptures installed in every available space in the park, including the trees. Curated by Ben La Rocco, Linnea Paskow, and Ben Pritchard, the exhibition features about 150 works by over 100 artists, ranging from large canvases fastened to tree trunks, to smaller paintings hung discreetly amid the branches or from the walls of garden sheds and neighboring buildings.
Saturday’s opening reception and BBQ also served as a fundraiser for the community park, but the paintings will remain in the trees until the end of June, come whatever wind and rainstorms may. Most of the artists seem to have anticipated the threat posed by inclement weather, bracing their works against strong winds and applying extra sealant to assuage the effects of rain.
Visiting the park after Sunday’s violent storms and the ensuing two straight days of rain, I was surprised to find most of the work unchanged — save a couple of warped boards and extra-drippy paintings. Some artists made pieces specifically designed to change with the weather, like Julie Torres, whose hanging spheres have bold colors lurking beneath their white exteriors that will become visible as rain washes away the paint. The very notion of leaving works that were created to be shown indoors — at least for the most part —outside and exposed to the elements for a month is a refreshing take on public art, and an experiment that merits multiple visits to see the exhibition evolve as nature takes its toll.