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9 Artists to Watch from the 2016 Bushwick Open Studios

As we made our way across the neighborhood, we came across more than a few artists we’ll be keeping our eyes on over the next year.

Performance art on Bogart Street during Bushwick Open Studios 2016 (photo by Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic)
Performance art on Bogart Street during Bushwick Open Studios 2016 (photo by Hrag Vartanian/ Hyperallergic)

It’s amazing what a difference a change of seasons can make. Bushwick Open Studios 2016 (BOS), the neighborhood-spanning art festival’s first autumnal edition in many years, was a decidedly cooler affair than any in recent memory. But things still got hot and crowded over the weekend, especially in the biggest studio buildings around the Morgan Ave and Jefferson St stops on the L train. As we made our way across the neighborhood, we came across more than a few artists we’ll be keeping our eyes on over the next year.

A work in Dexter Cyprian's studio at 1533 Myrtle Avenue (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
A work in Dexter Cyprian’s studio (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

Dexter Ciprian (site)

The play of textures and tones in Dexter Ciprian’s sculptures — which fuse rounded plaster forms, scraps of wood furniture, and found textiles — was a delight to behold. Arrayed on shelves that run up to the ceiling of his studio at 1533 Myrtle Avenue, they looked like riffs on quintessential modernist sculpture, functional objects like vases and gourds, and dismembered bits of bodies. Neither too precious nor too serious, their restraint was much appreciated amid the weekend’s ocular onslaught — as was the building’s very sociable feline-in-residence, Garfield. —Benjamin Sutton

Works in Gina Dawson's studio (photo by Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic)
Gina Dawson, “There Ain’t Enough Lime Here for You to Shine Here” (2016) (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Gina Dawson (site)

I’m used to encountering odd objects in art spaces, but Gina Dawson’s “There Ain’t Enough Lime Here for You to Shine Here” (2016) was stranger than most. Named after lyrics from a Notorious B.I.G. song, the sculpture takes the trappings of success (statue, flowers, etc.) and infuses them with a sense of defeat (sad furry beast, bare mattress covered in infantile imagery, etc.); the result is a trophy for perseverance, though against what, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a nod to millennial ambition, or perhaps a poke in the eye of art market success, but it was hard to take my eyes off, that’s for sure. —Hrag Vartanian

Works in Sessa Englund's studio at 1548 Greene Avenue during Bushwick Open Studios 2016 (photo by Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic)
Works in Sessa Englund’s studio (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Sessa Englund (site)

Though we were familiar with her conceptual work combining performance and consumer goods, Sessa Englund filled her studio with more recent sculptural works for BOS weekend, including an array of Sheila Hicks–ish wall-mounted textile works made of crocheted denim. Their knotted, twisted, looping forms held fleshy rings of clay, giving the series the appearance of a collection of giant bracelets or tools destined for use in some fantastical agricultural activity. The works’ alluring tactility, pleasingly contrasting tones, and slightly comical dimensions were consistent with her other recent sculptural experiments on view, including a deceptively hefty clothes hanger, a giant ceramic navel ring, and a spindly sculptural support for a thong. —Benjamin Sutton

New sculptures in Jack Henry's studio (photo by Jillian Steinhauer for Hyperallergic)
New wall works in Jack Henry’s studio (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Jack Henry (site)

Jack Henry’s sculptures make you want to go exploring. Plastic bags, pieces of cardboard, coils of rope, and other found, discarded items populate his geometric shells; set amid resin and cement, they sometimes spill out and other times linger just beyond the surface. Henry’s sculptures — which, these days, seem increasingly stretched to their breaking points — are handmade ruins, a kind of proposition for what it might look like if the modernist art object were invaded by pieces of the postindustrial landscape. Lately, Henry has begun working on wall pieces as well; these partial excavations may be more compact, but they carry just as much weight. —Jillian Steinhauer

Sculptures by #ShihChiehHuang #BOS2016 ([email protected]) 17-17 Troutman #222

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Shih Chieh Huang (site)

These strange artistic sea anemones try to snare you with delight. They glow, move almost organically, and look like a fabulous science project gone awry. The artist isn’t exactly unknown — he’s shown at venues around the world — but in his studio these forms conjured a sense of wistful wonder, like seeing Pinnochio emerge from Geppetto’s workshop for the first time. The whole room was a tinkerer’s delight. —Hrag Vartanian

Miki Katagari, "Heart Insect Cure Nuclear Waste" at South Bushwick Reform Church during Bushwick Open Studios 2016 (photo by Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic)
Miki Katagari, “Heart Insect Cure Nuclear Waste” at South Bushwick Reform Church (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Miki Katagiri (site)

The South Bushwick Reformed Church hosted the pop-up exhibition Not Curated over BOS weekend, partly as a way to raise funds for the ongoing renovation of the 1853 building, and the star of the show was Miki Katagari, a Brooklyn-based, Japanese-born milliner. Her madcap hats, suspended from fishing line on a stage in the church’s meeting hall, featured miniature sculptural scenes including parables about global warming and animal rights. They seemed to float like tiny planets, each encapsulating a cautionary fable, like “So Much Garbage In The Ocean,” which featured a tiny turtle trying to avoid an artful mesh of fishing nets and plastic trash, or “When Time Comes … Comes …,” which recreates the moment when the dinosaurs’ fate was sealed. Hats off to Katagari for her disarmingly earnest yet cheerfully fatalistic, wearable sculptures. —Benjamin Sutton

Paulapart amid their sculptures (photo by Claire Voon for Hyperallergic)
Paulapart amid their sculptures (photo by Claire Voon/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Paulapart and ECO AGE (site, site)

The acoustic sculptor Paulapart experiments with a variety of materials, including plexiglass, plaster, copper, and plywood, but they remain fixated on crafting one object: the common shell. When I stumbled into their studio, dozens of mollusks of all sizes hung from the ceiling and lay on tables; a massive plaster one balanced on its side, amplifying music from a speaker tucked into its base. Paulapart often uses these shell sculptures for ECO AGE, a collaborative project with their studio mate Emmaline Payette. During the pair’s performances — previously held at the Kitchen and the Destination Moon Festival — the spiraling chambers serve as musical instruments to form an orchestra that celebrates everything organic: the larger-than-life shells often emit nature’s noises, from bird sounds to whale songs, and each one has a distinct quality depending on the amplifier’s material, shape, and size. —Claire Voon

Paintings in Colin Prahl's studio (photo by Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic)
Paintings in Colin Prahl’s studio (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Colin Prahl (site)

Colin Prahl’s recent paintings have found a sweet spot between the sensual desire to smear toothpaste across a smooth surface and a visual puzzle that tricks your eye into nooks and crannies. His latest abstract wonderlands are his best yet, and the paintings’ pseudo-scientific titles give them a sense of mysterious exploration. Their visual language appears equally influenced by infographics, animation, and video games. —Hrag Vartanian

Hiba Schahbaz (site)

It’s a new thing for Hiba Schahbaz to go big. The artist was trained in what she describes as the “traditional Indo-Persian painting technique,” which she has typically used to create miniature works. However, last weekend I saw her more recent, almost life-size paintings. These pieces, like her previous work, are portraiture, but the figures here gain something for me through their increase in size: they become so bountifully feminine that I can’t help but admire them. There are gently sloping thighs; long, dark cascades of hair; almond skin tones; and succulent lips on faces that coolly accept the gaze of the viewer. They are idealized, mythologized views of femininity, clearly, in the way that Botticelli or the Pre-Raphaelites worked, but in this moment they have keen political resonance. They are brown girl magic and thus constitute more than lovely images of nude women; they are images that inflect and subtly reshape our notions of feminine beauty. —Seph Rodney

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