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(From left to right) Valerie A. Gladstone, “Revolution”; Sandra Giunta, “Coral Reminder 50”; and Colin P Strohm, “Years and Years of Matter Out of Place #100” (via Gowanus Open Studios Website)

Visit Gowanus this weekend to see the cutting edge of artist practices out of Brooklyn, like Valerie A. Gladstone’s doll, “Revolution,” which is a doll of a revolutionary black woman soldier with a gun. Over 400 studios and spaces will welcome visitors for the 25th edition of Arts Gowanus Open Studios. Only once a year can we get such unfettered access to the neighborhood’s capacious old factories and warehouses, now converted into working spaces for artists and creative collectives.

Open studio events can be overwhelming. There is a long list of artists whose names you may not recognize. Meandering down industrial streets and unfamiliar territory off the beaten path can be exhilarating, but also frustrating. Getting turned around or lost at some point is almost inevitable — but maybe it’s part of the fun. 

A big bottle of water, snacks in the bag, and good walking shoes dramatically improve the experience.

It’s long been my custom to focus on a theme instead of attempting to see everything. Here are three thematized itineraries to give you a head start.

Seize this moment to see new work and meet new people you don’t yet know.

Several artists are coaxing the staid genre of portraiture into portraying the psychological and racial paradoxes of our times. For example: How do we grapple with or avoid and feel fine despite the immigrant crisis at the southern border? Mateo Guitierrez provocatively probes this question in “And I Feel Fine / Y Me Siento Bien #2 (Parkland, Florida / San Antonio, Secortez, Guatemala)” (2021).

From there, delve into the practices of Carol M Adams, Syma, Katelyn Alain, Stephanie Amend, David Andersson, David Atkin, Austin Sapien, Jonathan Blum, Ali Dachis, Jas Pinturas, Anna Friemoth, Kae Gabrielle, Valerie A Gladstone, Matteo Gutierrez, Caroline Otis Heffron, Jessica Rose Jardinel, Jason Leinwand, Audrey Lyall, Ronnie Mae Painter, Katrina Majkut, Kate Muehlemann Cataldo, Mayumi Nakao, Ibou Ndoye, Jessie Novik, Keun Young Park, Laziza Rakhimova, Brie Spiel, Tamara Staples, Giustina Surbone, Mariel Tepper, Mayana Nell Torres, Tamangoh Vancayseele, and Susan Yung.

As climate change and severe weather worsen, many artists are reconceptualizing the landscape in a quest for new visual metaphors. For example, Sandra Giunta depicts the disappearing coral reefs in sculptures like “Coral Reminder 50.”

Her peers in this effort include Ariane Ahlman, Jongwon Bae, Kim Maxine Baglieri, Omer Ben-Zvi, Lauren Alyssa Bierly, Owen Bissex, Peter Bornstein, Lloyd G. Campbell, Heejung Cho, Yehudit Feinstein-Mentesh, Caleb Freese, Sandra Giunta, Stanley Greenberg, Lauren Monaco, Peter Patchen, Alison Putnam, Joyce Riley, Aubrey Saget, Steve Shohl, Bonnie Steinsnyder, Chris Weller, and Cindy Zaglin.

Abstraction isn’t dead. There continues to be so much space for innovation. With all the pain and chaos in our world today, it can be healing to just stop overthinking and relax into the sumptuousness of color, form, and pattern. For example, there is chromatic voltage and movement in Colin P Strohm’s “Years and Years of Matter Out of Place” (#100).

Also expanding the genre are Jo-Ann M. Acey, Natale Adgnot, Scott Albrecht, Alitha Alford, Michael Amendolara, Paige Beeber, Robert Bloom, Andrew Boos, Ellen Chuse, Jim Conti, Timothy Corbett, Abby Goldstein, Sandye Renz, Hannah Robinett, Cynthia Ruse, Toni Ann Serratelli, Helen Shu, Mike Sorgatz, Colin P Strohm, Shira Toren, Robert Walden, Rachel Wren, Heidi Yockey, and Madeline Zappala.

Gowanus Open Studios is organized by Arts Gowanus. The studios will be open from noon until 6pm on Saturday, October 16 and Sunday, October 17.

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