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The Brooklyn Museum’s GO Brooklyn event netted an estimated 147,000 studio visits to 1,708 artists over the weekend of September 8 and 9. Over the art-packed weekend (which we documented here), studio explorers nominated their favorite artists, and now we have the top 10 nominees. Surprisingly, none of the final artists live in Williamsburg or Bushwick, and the majority work in traditional media.

The ten artist names, along with samples of their work, are listed below. Southern Brooklyn seems to be a popular area — rather than the expected Williamsburg or Bushwick studio locations, these artists work in neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Prospect Heights, and Red Hook (in fact, GO organizer Shelley Bernstein notes, Bushwick had one of the lowest traffic numbers). Seven of the 10 artists are painters, and only one, Prune Nourry, works in photography and video.

These top ten artists will receive studio visits from Brooklyn Museum curators, who will determine which ones will be featured in the museum’s final exhibition. The final announcement will come on November 15, and the show will open December 1. Check out the nominees below!

Aleksander Betko

Painting and Drawing, Cobble Hill 

Work by Aleksander Petko (courtesy

Painter Aleksander Betko uses photorealism to depict moments of modern life and show the resilience and strength it takes to thrive in a city like New York.

Jonathan Blum

Painting and Printmaking, Park Slope

Work by Jonathan Blum (courtesy

Jonathan Blum‘s work depicts kooky combinations of animals and objects, like this dog with a chocolate cake on its head. The illustrative style is surreal and fun.

Adrian Coleman

Painting, Fort Greene

Work by Adrian Coleman (courtesy

Adrian Coleman translates the paradox of the picturesque to the American urban setting. His paintings, like this x-ray of a grocery store, skewer urban life.

Oliver Jeffers

Painting, Illustration, and Drawing, Boerum Hill 

Work by Oliver Jeffers (courtesy

Oliver Jeffers‘s figurative paintings probe the gap between “logical thinking and emotional understanding,” visible in this canvas depicting a picturesque ocean strewn with data points.

Kerry Law

ainting, Greenpoint

Work by Kerry Law (courtesy

Painter Kerry Law has created a brushy, painterly series of depictions of the Empire State Building, documenting its changing colors and environments. The result is dreamy.

Prune Nourry

Photography, Video, and Sculpture, Boerum Hill 

Prune Nourry’s “Holy River” (courtesy Allison Meier/Hyperallergic)

Prune Nourry works with a variety of digital and physical media, creating interactive sculptures that comment on issues of bioethics. We covered her piece “Holy River,” which critiqued gender selection in India, at the Invisible Dog Art Center.

Eric Pesso

Sculpture, Ditmas Park 

Work by Eric Pesso (courtesy

Eric Pesso is a sculptor who creates delicate, flowing geometric forms out of wood. His raw material are trees taken from the streets of Brooklyn.

Naomi Safran-Hon

Painting, Prospect Heights

Work by Naomi Safran-Hon (courtesy

The collages of artist Naomi Safran-Hon look aged and worn, even when newly made. She uses cement and lace to collage photographs she took of Haifa’s Wadi Salib neighborhood in her native Israel, visualizing the political partition of the land. Hyperallergic’s own Jillian Steinhauer covered her work here.

Gabrielle Watson

Painting, Crown Heights

Work by Gabrielle Watson (courtesy

Gabrielle Watson‘s paintings make up a visual diary, depicting friends in everyday settings in order to uncover the non-political black experience.

Yeon Ji Yoo

Mixed Media Sculpture, Red Hook 

Work by Yeon Ji Yoo (courtesy

Yeon Ji Yoo‘s organic sculptures spin fiber and plants into meditations on death, respiration, and decomposition. Her drawings take on similar subject matter, creating small, fantastical landscapes.

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

11 replies on “See GO Brooklyn’s Top 10 Artist Nominees”

  1. I think a lot of artists are disappointed with the lack of range both in geographical areas and mediums. Plus, a lot of us simply don’t recognize the names of the people picked and fear they may not be “authentic” art world strugglers.

    Having worked in advertising for over 20 years making “creative” work for the masses, when I stop and think about this it makes sense to me about who made the cut. The best part of GO Brooklyn weekend, as far as I was concerned, was that it galvanized the community and got people engaged with art and artists who normally might not have. These people don’t live where artists live, they live where people live, in residential areas. And generally what the public thinks of art is painting. We all know that, because quite often when you say you’re an artist, people assume you paint.

    I do think there’s a disconnect now because the artists and even maybe the Brooklyn Museum didn’t anticipate this. I think the artists feel disappointed that the selections aren’t the ones art world people may have chosen. But we must remember the point of this exercise was to have The Public, not The Art World curate a show, and these are the results, and they makes sense.

    I think these results raise some interesting questions and a fresh perspective such as who are we making this work for? Why are we making it? At the end of the day, who are the people that care that we are making art at all? And what are the expectations we have of people to appreciate our work?

    I do think we are all learning something from this. Plus, maybe if artists engage the non-art going public more, we artists may all learn how we can better communicate our ideas to a broader group of people, and in turn help this new audience appreciate more about the value of art and what it can do. In the meantime I’ll have fun out here with my artist friends in Bushwick.

    1. hmm.

      I’m not sure about all of this, Lisa, but I don’t want to read too much into it. Besides … I don’t live in NYC and have no idea what this event or all of the art was like, so I won’t comment on any of that. It seems reasonable and expected that a lot of artists wouldn’t be totally down with a show that was curated by this method, though … which you pointed out already. That makes perfect sense to me. I don’t put real faith in crowd-sourcing or populist-y/popularity contests regarding art or other stuff either — especially if its a thing many people don’t, generally speaking, spend a great load of attention to or critical thought on the diversity of options available (to say the least). Anyway, I still think there are a bunch of really good questions in there.

      I would say to be maybe be careful about sweating having a very tight + sharply-defined answer to the “who are we making this for?” question too too hard, especially depending on what perspective you are taking … particularly if it’s from an ‘advertising world/focus group/what you should be making for x or y market’ perspective, IMHO. But I think that’s an important question to be aware of asking, like you say – and to think about how or why we might answer them in whatever way. I think it’s tricky. And if artists aren’t ultimately into their own work for their own good + real personal reasons, too – whatever that might be – it probably won’t really be good. I think artists should still just try to make work they like and do it with all they’ve got.

      I can’t imagine what “These people don’t live where artists live, they live where people live, in residential areas” is supposed to mean. Or I could if I wanted to, I guess. It doesn’t sound too good. That might be worth clarifying … at least for your own reference. I think artists are actually technically people and presumably can and might live wherever, right? Money and tons of other things as well can be real factors there. I have no idea where name recognition precisely intersects with an “authentic” art struggler either (sorry, left out ‘world’).

      The “non-art going public” is huge and can include and be a bit of anything, especially if you literally mean people who don’t tend to physically go to openings and shows and such. Bushwick sounds like it can be very awesome with tons of cool stuff to do and see, and some artists can definitely be awesome company for many reasons (same boat, same kind of job, similar concerns, sometimes familiar or very quite similar perspectives + interests + passions even, etc), but if I lived there I think I’d take care not to let myself ‘mentally’ stay TOO exclusive to Bushwick or wherever. That effort applies for pretty much anywhere I’d find myself living, including where I live and play now. Anyway, that’s just my taste/opinion. Hope I’m not reading into your comment too much, really — besides, it sounded like you were maybe ending on a similar note 🙂

      1. Thanks for for your thoughtful response Christopher. And yes I think our values about art making are in sync.

        Since you don’t not live in the area, let me clarify what I meant about “These people don’t live where artists live, they live where people live, in residential areas”. What I meant is that in Brooklyn, a lot of artists have studios and often live in industrial areas where there are loft buildings, such as Bushwick. Brooklyn is very spread out, so if you live in say Cobble Hill or Park Slope which are residential areas with more typical residential buildings and such, it’s actually easier public transportation-wise to go see art in most of Manhattan, than it would be to see art in Bushwick.

        The point I’m really trying to make though is, that the exhibition is curated by a crowd, not a curator, and strictly speaking, quality-wise, it’s likely never going to be as good as something a highly-trained curator would put together. I’m suggesting that what we can gain from this exhibition is some learning and dialogue on how the public likes their art. Also, judging by the popularity of American Idol, this method of evaluating and promoting creativity is not going away, irregardless of the quality of the work that comes from it, so let’s be real and deal with it or just consciously chose not to.

        The reason I brought up my advertising background is to say how often I was surprised about how blind I was about how the ads I was developing were perceived when shown to focus groups. For some artists, a broader understanding of how your work is interpreted by a range of people who may or may not be art-educated can be helpful and even inspiring.

        So after all that, I guess my real point is that it’s not realistic for anyone to think that crowd-sourcing is an efficient way to find great art. However, crowd-sourcing is a great way to find out what crowds like. I’m not sure what the GO Brooklyn organizers were thinking as far as that goes, but I do think they were focusing on involving communities in art, which is good for everyone. Plus, I do know that a lot of us artist are big fans of crowd-sourcing in other areas, like for example, Kickstarter.

        1. “…. it’s not realistic for anyone to think that crowd-sourcing is an efficient way to find great art. However, crowd-sourcing is a great way to find out what crowds like.”

          Hahaha – succinctly put. Hallelujah sister. Thanks for the reply!

    2. Hey Lisa. Though I agree that the best part of GO was how it engaged the community, you should know from your advertising background that “crowd-sourcing” makes for mediocre creative and in this case a bad exhibition. It seems the Brooklyn Museum’s way of building community is through popularity contests and reality TV, ala Bravo’s Work of Art. Here’s a pointed email I got from Momenta Art that sums up my feelings toward GO:
      “In the last few years, reality TV’s Survivor-esque pop culture has connected with the art world. We are now seeing artists compete for attention and fan-love on television and art critics stepping into Paula Abdul’s shoes as cheerleaders. With the Brooklyn Museum’s recent “Go Brooklyn” call to artists, funded by Deutsche Bank, we are now seeing the mass-market social-network competition model applied to exhibitions. While it’s a populist gesture that may lead to more visibility for some artists, it takes on all the trappings of a pyramid scheme where the “dark matter” of struggling artists is capitalized for the benefit of a few winners, a museum, and a bank. Behind each winner, thousands upon thousands of artists struggle for visibility, climbing over each other while mired in student loan debt for an MFA that is now a must. With unpaid internships, artworker precarity and constant creeping gentrification now common financial obstacles for artists, the deck is stacked against those without the privileges and connections to rise above the pack. Dare we imagine a model where 99% of culture makers are not pre-destined to lose?”
      Personally, you and I didn’t have a chance at winning. But the best thing I got out of GO was a mention here at Hyperallergic (Thanks Hrag and Kyle).

      1. I totally agree that artists need more support and that popularity contests are a way of skirting the responsibility onto the faceless masses but… as an artist I want people to come by my studio and see my work more than anything. I don’t care if they are chasing a Bravo coupon give away, my work communicates on its own terms and once someone steps into my studio and engages in a real discussion I don’t give a damn how they got here. Frankly I think there is a lot of flaky work out there that relies on the hip context it is presented in to claim merit(that’s right Bushwick house parties feigning as art Im looking at you.) If you have four walls, work you are passionate about, a mouth and two ears, visitors are gooooood. Yup artists need more funding and an extensive, reliable support structure, but a campaign like GO isn’t the real cause for the death of the WPA.

        1. @facebook-914168:disqus “…. visitors are gooooood.”

          Ha! It’s hard to really super passionately disagree with that. I like the idea of effective efforts to broaden the art audience, especially if they have a healthy effect on the arts atmosphere overall (lots of different measures for that … but of course I prefer the critical efforts that wind up championing the sort of art I like most, naturally … haha). At least it sounds like, from the little I’ve read, GO didn’t have an actual “classic reality TV producer” to it that made sure the field of contestants all had to fit character tropes in a bid for personality-driven ratings. However, the prospect of nothing literally happening with these things is extremely unlikely (especially in the short-term): hair-pulling, lamp-breaking, and hot-tub-pooping are likely to go down in some part of the house. The stakes … so very high. It sucks whenever artists struggle so hard that they almost seem actually quite willing to eat and kill and screw each other over/get screwed over to get to the top, though. Plays to the producer’s benefit.

          I would just add that shallow popularity contests aren’t strictly the domain of the “faceless masses”. It’s too bad when critics simply play the Paula Abdul role, like that email in Christopher’s comment describes, whenever and wherever that might happen (those are usually bad critics or – at best – critics that either just f**d one up, don’t share my taste, or were simply running a press release + not doing the critic thing at the time). I feel like I’ve seen it happen here in my town before.

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