The bewildering number of new galleries opening in Bushwick in late 2012 and early this year continues to grow (even while this article goes to press). The gallery counts now, depending on who you ask, are above 45. Growth seems to be nothing short of exponential as virtually every major studio building in every micro-neighborhood that’s part of Bushwick is now home to several artist-run exhibition spaces, and naturally, apartment shows abound. Here’s the first five on our list.
Founded by: Jennifer Dalton & Jennifer McCoy
Upcoming show: Michelle Forsyth: Letters to Kevin, opens January 11
“We bail on our husbands and children every weekend to do this project,” said Jennifer Dalton over a tall beer-and-orange-juice cocktail at brunch at Northeast Kingdom in Bushwick, where I met her and her collaborator, Jennifer McCoy. The two women have been friends for over 10 years, and have been talking about the project “forever.” They both know artists who have been consistently producing at a high level, but who they feel have never received the commercial attention they should have. Thus, Auxillary Projects will only show solos of underrepresented artists who have been active for a long time in its small, focused exhibition space.
The second goal behind Auxillary Projects is to facilitate the production and distribution of art that can be owned by the non-wealthy, a kind of entry point into the art world. Every exhibition will include inexpensive, handmade multiples that won’t exceed a price tag of $300 each. Even if the artist doesn’t normally work in multiples, Dalton and McCoy will challenge them to create an edition.
Their premier show was James Huang’s The Gospel of Skills, which featured handmade wooden cutouts resembling Swiss Army knives (his multiples) and unique hand-cast plaster sculptures that resemble tools commonly found in the sculptor’s studio.
Dalton and McCoy see the gallery project as an extension of their art practices. In their own work, both artists create environments or facilities in which to experience art. This puts them in touch with that process firsthand.
They assured me that this was not a money-making endeavor. After six months, they may move or take a break. On that timeframe, the two nearly simultaneously replied, “We have to see if our husbands leave us.”
A Slender Gamut
131 Boerum Street, #1C — website
Sterling Wells’s exhibition at A Slender Gamut — which is actually in East Williamsburg — eschews the traditional presentation of preparatory sketches and instead presents his intricately constructed source material for paintings — a living terrarium of sorts, “a living still life,” according to the press release — on its own.
Nestled into the gallery’s intimate, 5-by-5-foot exhibition space, Wells’s diorama manages to float at eye level, like a Japanese landscape swathed in mist, despite its decidedly pedestrian construction from exposed 2x4s, clamp lights, and a circulatory plumbing system. That Wells might use this miniature environment as a still life for his ambitious, lovingly rendered watercolor paintings is beside the point. Instead, the viewer is prompted to see the work in the round and find his own ideal vantage point for the mossy growth.
Bull & Ram
Founded by: Yevgeniya Baras & Eve Lateiner
Current show: Stacie Johnson
Painters Eve Lateiner and Yevgeniya Baras are the women behind Bull & Ram. The gallery began on the corner of Lafayette and Prince Streets, in Manhattan, with such exhibitions as Mythogrophia, which included the work of Joanne Greenbaum, Michael Berryhill, Keith Allyn Spencer, Paul Demuro, and Jackie Gendel.
The project then migrated to the 17-17 Troutman building last September, “because there is an undeniable artistic energy in that building,” said Baras. “It was important to us to be around artists who live and work in this neighborhood in order to embody the vitality of the artists around us.” Their current lease is one year long; however, the two intend to keep the project going “indefinitely.”
Plants have been a part of every exhibition to date. Baras and Lateiner initially conceptualized the space as a salon. Their vision is for the viewer to encounter work as if in a living room, taking a cue from Gertrude Stein’s famous Paris salon.
Parallel Art Space
Founded by: Rob de Oude & Enrico Gomez
Upcoming show: Real Op, opens January 12
Though Parallel Art Space (formerly Camel Art Space), in the 17-17 Troutman Street studio building, has been around for over a year at this point, we felt that it was important to include them in this article. Organizers Rob de Oude and Enrico Gomez (both artists themselves) did find some gems for a show last fall, The New Brutalists.
Samuel T. Adams’s two large paintings dominated the show. One was an elaborate transfer process (Adams was originally trained as a printmaker) whereby he applied the paint accumulated on plastic tarps that cover the painting table in his studio directly to the canvas. Adams scrapes, sands, and distresses his canvases to such an extent that the materials bleed through to the reverse side. For the second work, he unstretched and restretched the canvas to present the reverse bleed-through. The force of restretching the used canvas tore the fabric at the edges of the stainer.
The other pieces that stood out were Leah Raintree’s unique silver gelatin prints, which are made by placing a piece of shale rock (taken from the shale rock beds under so much political scrutiny due to fracking legislation) atop a piece of paper and bashing it to bits with a hammer until it is almost entirely disintegrated, creating a unique impression for each print.
Note: A fourth space, Harbor Gallery, is in fact also coming soon to 17-17 Troutman Street. Stay tuned.
The Active Space (566 Johnson Avenue, #14) — website
Founded by: Keith Varadi & Michael Kennedy Costa
Most recent show: Nathan Dilworth: Second Set
In Bushwick at The Active Space (566 Johnson Ave., #14) and in Gowanus (112 2nd Avenue, 2nd floor, #8), two young artists and friends, Michael Kennedy Costa and Keith J. Varadi, have collaboratively opened up Picture Menu. They began by passing drawings back and forth between themselves, working on them separately and never talking about them. This evolved into curatorial projects, the first of which was a solo presentation of oversize digital prints (as sculpture), paintings/collage, and sculpture by Nathan Dilworth. The arrangement of his art in the space was, as is consistent with Dilworth’s output, a whole new work in itself.
On being curators versus artists, Varadi and Costa collaboratively responded, “[W]e consider our collaborative art practice equally as important as showcasing these other artists, so it will always be a continuous balancing act.”