Art

Summer Guests in Bushwick

Summer in Bushwick (all images by the author)

The mercury in your thermometer can easily climb to 100+ degrees during these dog days of summer in north Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. The concrete streets are helplessly desolate and even the Bushwick pigeons seem to have given up. Bushwick has been quieter lately, and the local art scene might have been hiding in the close proximity of blasting air conditioners most of the time, but even with all these factor you can definitively say that it certainly is not dead. In fact, several prominent Bushwick galleries and art spaces opted out of the summer break and have been serving up refreshing art options.

Maybe its the time of the year but for some reason no one can take art very seriously at the moment, and maybe that’s why Bushwick gallerists are more prone to handing over the keys to their spaces to guest curators with the promise of free rein.

A view of the party on NURTUREart's rooftop.

Last Friday night, a Bushwick-based nonprofit, Nurture Art, let their summer guests build a large tent inside of their space. Made of denim, ropes and not a single nail, the tent was inspired by the dune shacks built on the coast of the legendary gay town at the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Provincetown (often referred to as PTown). Walking into the tent felt like entering a strange maze; while the cutout parts of the walls partially disrupt the feeling of privacy. Marco Antonini, a director of Nurture Art, said that the artists Joao Pedro Vale and Nuno Alexendre Ferreira, built it in two full days.

View of "PTown"(click to enlarge)

This summer at Nurture Art, they’re having 10 shows in 10 weeks, a big number considering that their budget for the series, titled WE ARE, is the equivalent of one regular exhibition. Art spaces Famous Accountants and Regina Rex and the curatorial venture, Fortress to Solitude, are among those invited to guest curate. “WE ARE is more of a workshop, or a festival, than a series of traditional art exhibitions. Actually, the doors are open to the public already on Thursday. People can come in to see the  installation,” said Marco Antonini.

Over at Storefront Gallery, for a second summer they have invited a group of guest curators for a series of summer shows lasting three weeks each. Since it’s summer, it’s socially acceptable to be really sweaty at art openings these days — thank goodness. Last Friday at the ^ Late Summer Blues ^ opening, Storefront co-founder Jason Andrew was forced to trade a fashionable outfit for shorts and tshirt. He was serving popsicles and ice-cold water while cracking jokes about wearing a suit and a tie.

A work by artists Letha Wilson at Storefront Gallery

Artist Julie Torres said that she almost didn’t make it to the opening. “They should have named it Summer Blues, instead of Late Summer Blues. This is making me so sad,” she said about the impossibly hot weather. Another Bushwick artist Ben Godward only shrugged and proceeded to take a sip from his cold beer.

But apparently late summer nostalgia was a feeling that curators Sara Reisman and Ian Daniel were trying to invoke with their group show, which featured collage-based works in video, photography and sculpture.

In his three-dimensional contribution, Francesco Simeti used delicate summery patterns that included flowers, poppy heads and blueprints, all with a precise touch that evoked memories of summers past. Letha Wilson combined nature photography and sculpture in order to manipulate landscapes as a type of visual escape from the city. Her delicate photograph of forest trees heavy with snow radiates an inestimable soothing chill even with the omnipresent heat.

If you want to stay cool in Bushwick, you can try bike rides through an open fire hydrant, Mr. Softee ice cream trucks that play endlessly mindless tunes of repeat or take refuge by air conditioners that always appear to drip strange liquids. But my advice is that you can hardly top local art when it comes to cooling off your mind.

PTown, which is part of the WE ARE series, at Nurture Art (910 Grand Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn) ran from July 21 to 25. ^ Late Summer Blues ^ at Storefront Gallery (16 Wilson Ave, Bushwick, Brooklyn) continues until August 7.

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