For those who love the vibrant art scene of Bushwick and its younger sister in Queens, Ridgewood, it is a good time to venture through the area’s galleries to see a wide range of work that is sure to inspire and provoke conversation. These are seven shows that are worth a look.
Tescia Seufferlein’s Stratum
English Kills Art Gallery (114 Forrest Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Until February 17
This is Tescia Seufferlein‘s first solo show at English Kills and it is a far cry from her earlier work, which tends to resemble the men’s shirt piece that is hanging in the first room of the show. The showstopper in this exhibition is her large wedding dress installation that has transformed the normally rough gallery space into a refined visual theater.
For her installation, Seufferlein has painted the room burgundy and displayed three wedding dresses — part of a series of five — in the center of the space. The dresses are covered with GAC, a clear polyacrylic mixture, and it gives the forms a polished quality, which accompanied by the airbrushing (which she used to color and detail the forms) and decay, make these heavily symbolic gowns feel more alien that you would expect.
The silhouettes of the dresses evoke many things, including a Rorschach Blot test. At varying angles they might resemble the Virgin Mary in her catalogue of expected poses, arrowheads, or works by Petah Coyne. One thing I kept wondering about the works was why the artist chose to flatten them and not fill the space. Nonetheless, the impact of the presentation and the work was impressive.
Giacometti and a Selection of Contemporary Drawings
Norte Maar (83 Wyckoff Avenue, #1B, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Until February 24
It is a rare treat to have a drawings by a Modern Master like Alberto Giacometti in an emerging art neighborhood like Bushwick, but Norte Maar’s director Jason Andrew was able to score a small double-sided drawing — “Double Sided Drawing featuring Double Portrait of Diego and Standing Man Arms Outstretched” (c.1947-1950) — with some of the artist’s most recognizable forms (a standing man, busts).
Andrew has placed Giacometti at the center of his gallery and displayed it in a box armature, an obvious nod to Giacometti’s “Nose” (1947), while surrounding it by younger talents from across the neighborhood and beyond.
The show is curated to ensure visual dialogue, but the pairing of Matthew Miller’s and Giacometti’s head drawings from one perspective and Thomas Micchelli’s and Giacometti’s male figure from another was a pretty incredible, and successful, curatorial choice. If Micchelli’s human forms always struck me as slightly rigid, here, beside Giacometti, they revealed another layer of meaning, making them feel more universal than I ever thought them to be.
In the adjacent gallery, Anthony Browne’s large “Venus I” (2013) drawing is a counterpoint to the fragile and rigid male forms next door. Browne’s woman — which is all body, with no extremities or face — is an inviting and rhythmic symbol of one type of idealized woman.
This show does everything I’d hope any show that combines old and new art would do, namely illuminate the common paths artists from very different backgrounds and places choose to follow.
Parallel Art Space (17-17 Troutman Street #220, Ridgewood, Queens)
Until February 17
This small show has a few really wonderful works of art that make it a must-see. Cathy Nan Quinlan’s highly patterned still life paintings smart and difficult paintings, like “Still Life with Interference” (2011), that can tear into your retina. Accompanied by Jeff Fichera’s canvases and Aaron Williams’ stripped collage photographs, the show gives off a humming intensity. My biggest complaint is that work appeared to need more room than the gallery would allow so there’s little room for reflection in the space. This is definitely one of those show where less would’ve definitely been more.
Corey Escoto: Volume for Volume
Regina Rex (17-17 Troutman Street #329, Ridgewood, Queens)
Until February 16
Pittsburgh-based Corey Escoto’s first show in New York is a tightly curated affair with just enough visual push and pull to give you a full sense of the ideas brewing in his arrangement of once-unremarkable objects that come alive with his solid sense of style.
His Polaroid prints — which were my favorite works in the show — are made with multiple exposures and look surprisingly digital considering their analogue process. That tension between analogue and digital are also apparent in the sculptures. “House of Cards” (2012) is a sleek pyramid of Plexi-covered prints with a flash of pink florescent light. It is attractive but conceptually feels a little hollow. His “Set Piece: Houseplants Reflection” (2012) is a strange compressed composition of mirrored plants that continue into physical space. Where “House of Cards” can feel forced, “Set Piece” is visually engaging, like an Escher print come to life, or an image in your social media newsfeed.
Storefront Bushwick (16 Wilson Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Until March 10
The group show in the main space feels a little haphazard in its curation — and I’m not convinced all the works fit well together — but there are a number of works that deserve a close look. The three artists I’d recommend in this show have different strategies: I liked Michelle Hailey’s disorienting canvases, Rebecca Litt’s lush patches of colors, and Holly Coulis’s strangely inviting compositions.
Hailey’s contribution to the show are two painted canvases with largely blank central areas that reflect the surfaces or reflections made by mirrors. The mirror frames have an array of photographs and postcards stuck into them. While in one, the surrounding room is almost impossible to see, in the other we glimpse enough to mentally understand the relationship of the mirror to the room. Perfectly suited to the exhibition’s theme, Hailey’s works play with your sense of space, while revealing half a dozen layers of surface.
Like Hailey, Coulis works with a playful sense of space, but the subject is uncanny and historic in its mood. The human figure stares at us blankly, while an abstracted tiger looks at the figure almost confused — perhaps mimicking us?
Litt’s canvas is richly colored and, like Hailey’s work, pushes your eyes to the edges where we’re left to sort through details to make sense of the scene. The large blue shape that is the focus of the painting is richly textured and you can almost feel the weight of the colors pulling down in the painterly space.
The Triumph of Human Painting
Bull and Ram (17-17 Troutman Street #226, Ridgewood, Queens)
Until February 17
This show with a very ambitious title is uneven at best. Danny Licul’s bizarrely lovely “History Lesson” (2012) and Katherine Bradford’s dense “Green Lifesaver Chair” (2012) share a gallery with Jason Stopa’s incomplete feeling “Full Court” (2012) and Peter Gallo’s stark “Boyfriend in Rehab” (2013).
I didn’t understand where the notion of triumph factored into this concise show, but it was nice to see a big range of painting in one place.
Michelle Forsyth: Letters to Kevin
Auxiliary Projects (2 St. Nicholas Avenue, #25, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Closed February 10
This is the only show that I’m going to mention that recently closed, but there was something very attractive and welcoming about these works. The artist used the patterns of her husband’s shirts (at least initially) to create an array of small abstractions. Her interest in the patterns are not simply confined to the five-inch-by-five-inch sheets of paper that are pinned to the wall but have diversified into paintings (easel and wall) and textiles she has started weaving (she learned how to through YouTube) and sculpture (you can spot one in the corner of the gallery in the photo above).
There was something too rational about the installation in the gallery that removed the emotional subtext that another type of display could easily elicit, but the scale of the gallery did help make the works feel more special.
Reminder: Beat Nite: Limited Edition will take place this Friday, February 15, 6–10pm, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Hyperallergic is a proud media sponsor of the event.