As the neighborhood reeled from the news that hundreds of artists are being forced to leave one of its biggest studio complexes, Gowanus became a hotbed of activity this past weekend during Gowanus Open Studios (GOS). With over 300 artists opening up their workspaces, the annual event’s 19th edition drew crowds to all corners of the Superfund neighborhood to see studios, galleries, ephemeral installations, and performances — though if you were wondering about the guy who swam the entire length of the Gowanus Canal on Saturday morning, that was not performance art.
How the loss of the artists being pushed out of the buildings on 9th Street — who adorned their exteriors with highly visible protest messages during a rally on Saturday — will affect future editions of GOS remains to be seen. However, the sad news seems to have galvanized attention and interest this year, bringing visitors to the area’s studios and art spaces all weekend long.
Essenhigh reveals a freedom that resonates with all manner of fusion: of figure and design, of abstraction and narrative, of sentiment and humor, and more generally, of ambitious painting with a readable narrative.