BY Candace Moeller
Bushwick Open Studios was this past weekend, but if you missed it, make a note in your 2014 calendars to attend. Now. Because I have to say, this weekend was simply divine, and one of the best times I’ve had recently while looking at art. Despite the oppressive heat and humidity, New Yorkers turned out in droves for Bushwick Open Studios, and I have never seen so many people of different ages, backgrounds, and interests in this neighborhood, showing love for the many artists that live and work here. You could argue that the weekend was just an excuse for hipsters to congregate en masse, eat from food trucks, and play Frisbee in the street, but I would have to disagree. What was enacted instead was a community performance, from the woman down the block selling BBQ that her husband was grilling on the sidewalk, to the neighbor spinning tracks on his turntable set up on his front porch, to the many studios that artists graciously opened up to the public, often offering wine, snacks, water, and a little air conditioning to boot. Ask yourself: how often do we get to actually engage with an artist at the site of creation? How often do we get to ask them questions directly about their practice? I might have been trudging along on hot asphalt this weekend, but my intellectual curiosity was running wild. There were at least 600 open studios and events scheduled over the weekend, which sounds daunting at first, but there was no pressure to see or do everything, which can be a common experience at huge art fairs. Instead, I was able to insert joy and inspiration back into the art viewing experience, and I felt like I really connected with others in a shared place and a shared time.
I’ve listed three artists below whose work I really enjoyed, and whose studios and/or exhibitions I was lucky enough to explore.
@ Norte Maar
Jabaut creates powerful, beautifully tactile sculptural works from wood, nails, and other found materials. Personally, I associate them with home, and a secure sense of belonging to a space. They’re just gorgeous. And he’s one of the nicest people I met over the weekend! Like him on Facebook!
@ 1717 Troutman
I am deplorably lacking in the ability to intelligently discuss electronics, but I found this description of his work The Panoply on the web: “Immerse yourself in the mirrored and light filled Panoply, a 3-frequency geodesic dome with 616 individually controlled full-color LED pixels arranged in circles at its vertices. The Panoply is an interactive installation where its patterns are controlled by a hacked Wii remote, allowing participants to control the patterns of light shimmering throughout.” (http://sciencegallery.com/content/panoply-todd-polenberg-and-jason-cipriani-usa) Essentially you pick up what looks like a gerbil ball (which, I assume, held the hacked Wii remote), and when you move the ball, colored LED circles on a panel activate and change configuration, and distorted electronic sounds issue into the room. While Polenberg didn’t have the geodesic dome set up, he said that the lights would be on the interior of the dome in a complete installation. If you pressed a button on the gerbil ball (“gerbil ball” is my term, not the artist’s), the changes in the lights and sound increased in velocity as well as awesomeness.
@ Harbor Gallery
Dorf takes photographs of landscapes, and digitally alters them, adding computer-modeled elements. The juxtaposition between nature and technology is wickedly fun, and the photos provoke thoughtful consideration of the trajectory of the landscape genre.
There is so much more that I could mention right now, and I worry that I have done a disservice to the many artists who participated in Bushwick Open Studios by only presenting the work of a few. But, at the least, I hope you were able to picture the energy that abounded in Brooklyn this past weekend, I hope you attend Open Studios next year, and I hope you feel inspired!