Exploring Perception in Minimalist Reflections at Fresh Window

Three British Artists in their 70s at Fresh Window featured a body of minimalist work that explores perception, recognition, and spatial experiences. This show was organized by Bartha Contemporary Ltd. for the Exchange Rates Expo and was on view from October 20 to November 20, 2016.

Douglas Allsop uses reflective materials that echo the room where the artworks are placed. Reflective Editor, Two Horizontal Rectangular Holes, Parallel Pattern, Horizontal Division (2010) is hung prominently on the main wall of the square-spaced, white-wall gallery. The four rectangles, each cut in half by a black line, are made of cast acrylic frames. They outline a frameless view—we don’t see a straightforward reflection of ourselves, just the wall on which the work hangs. These angular, linear works show a skewed reality, warping the reflection of the viewer and the space in which they stand.

Adam Baker Mills explores the characteristics of light and shadow, an artistic investigation that he began in the sixties. The works have been meticulously crafted to dupe the viewer’s perception. Their experience of the work changes as the viewer walks from left to right. New colors are discerned, substances are redefined, and shapes are reformed. When viewing Shadowgap 2 (2016) straight on, it appears that two pieces of MDF have been hung parallel on the wall with a gap between them. Upon close inspection, the edges reveal a white paint that gives the illusion that the pieces are cut out. In Red Box (2016), pink and purple tones illuminate from the center. Depending on the viewer’s vantage point, the intensity and tone change as light and shadow overlap, giving life to new shapes of color.

Alan Johnston considers his practice to be a collaboration between art and architecture, as well as Eastern and Western aesthetics. In his Mies van der Rohe Haus Series, the artist utilizes Titanium White acrylic, pencil, charcoal, and beeswax on plywood to create different shapes and textures on black-and-white square panels. The surfaces have architectural references like windows, doors, and walls. Johnston’s abstracted works allow for meditation on line, color, and form.

Though these artists follow in the Minimalist tradition and utilize hard-edged, geometric shapes, they respond to the space in which they are exhibiting and thus transform it. Three British Artists in their 70s is engaging and witty, challenging visitors’ expectations and what they believe they are seeing.

Building Blocks of the City: Zoning 101

by Aniela Coveleski

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While it may seem really overwhelming, zoning policies are something that every resident of Brooklyn (and all other places of the city) should know about. Luckily, there are various organizations that exist to help everyone understand city policies. During Exchange Rates, Generis held a hands-on workshop called “Zoning 101” at the Vazquez Building. The workshop discussed all of the different laws and rules of city zoning, and how it affects people living in artist-heavy communities. Our host, Susan Surface, really cares about fair treatment to those living in art communities with regards to real estate and zoning. Along with the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and the Artist Studio Affordability project, we were able to work through different discussions and activities to broaden our knowledge on this topic.

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Mark Torrey from CUP lead the majority of the workshop by using a beautifully designed game board and building blocks. The Center for Urban Pedagogy’s mission is to use design and art to help the general public get more involved in civil laws and urban policy. They run workshops like this and have tons of educational material available on their website.

Since this workshop took place during Exchange Rates, there was a big focus on how these zoning laws impacted specifically art-based communities. The Artist Studio Affordability Project is an organization that is mainly focused on helping to preserve affordable art spaces for people working in the arts. At the workshop, we learned how zoning changes and building permits affect real estate prices, and ASAP helped to explain what rights you have as a person that already inhabits an art space. You can find more information about upcoming events, and how to get involved with ASAP on their website.

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When living in an urban environment, changes happen around you constantly.  Real estate markets change, demographics change, and city governments work to maximize the possibilities of each area for a number of different reasons. There are so many factors in each level of change that sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Workshops like the one put on by Generis are extremely helpful. The Center for Urban Pedagogy and The Artist Studio Affordability Project can help you understand your rights. Remember, you can also find all about zoning and your rights as a tenant in New York City by contacting the City Planning department of NYC.

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Exchange Rates was “an international exposition of artworks and art galleries in and around Bushwick, Brooklyn” that paired more than 16 Bushwick galleries and spaces with an extended list of galleries from the USA and abroad. The event was produced by Sluice__, a London-based art initiative, which joined with Bushwick locals Theodore:Art and Centrotto to bring the concept to life. The four-day event featured Beat Nite, the semi-annual late-night gallery event produced by Norte Maar, along with panel discussions, parties, and a performance art night.

Joy and Humor Pierce a Vague Dystopia at Exchange Rates

by Catherine Kirkpatrick

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Beards (Judy) by Sadie Hennessy; all photos by Catherine Kirkpatrick

As part of Exchange Rates, Bushwick’s Fuchs Projects partnered with the Queens Park Railway Club of Glasgow, UK. Run by artists Patrick Jameson and Ellis Luxemburg, the gallery is located on the platform of an active train station. With an outreach to the local community, the gallery offers exhibitions and residencies throughout the year.

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Archigraph by Patrick Jameson

There was a vaguely dystopian feel to the show: The most upbeat piece was Archigraph by Patrick Jameson, a work inspired by Archigram, the collective of young British architects that flourished from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Galvanized by advances in metals and plastics, and by the visionary work of Buckminster Fuller and Yona Friedman, their designs proposed lightweight, modular, even mobile architecture that embraced a utopian dream of futuristic living. Though almost none of their proposals were built, the legacies of both Fuller and Friedman live on in the work of Norman Foster and Richard Rodgers. Reframing and repurposing on shards of discarded Plexiglas, however, Jameson’s small colorful paintings borrow from their utopian plans.


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Ellis Luxemburg of the Queens Park Railway Club

A much darker future is suggested by The Terminal Node, John Butler’s short film about an Amazon-like fulfillment center whose goal is to create “a culture of contentment.” Manned by a lonely mechanized half-human (“I’m glad to be part of something bigger…there is less of me now”), it speaks to the impersonalization of corporate culture. In Ellis Luxemburg’s Conventions a pair of hands, increasingly agitated, light match after match as a calm voice recites instructions for building a bomb as if it were a recipe for chicken pot pie.

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Leland Gorlin in front of his work

Leland Gorlin represented Bushwick with a cluster of small, pure still-life compositions of overlooked and discarded items. Isolated against a white background, rusted blades, shards of mirrored glass, and tiny moths forced the viewer to take a second look at things normally swatted or thrown away, provoking a sense of repurpose and discovery.

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Gallery owner Rafael Fuchs opened his archive to Luxemburg, who chose work in keeping with the unofficial theme of dystopia: a voyeuristic nude with a laptop in a hotel room, a screenshot of images on Fuchs’ computer desktop that suggested the steady creep of technology into art and modern life. A joyous image of his parents dancing heightened the unease of a night pool scene where a body floats, a dumpster overflows, and a card is abandoned and overrun with weeds.

 

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Rafael Fuchs watches his parents dance

At the end of the gallery in “The Feminist Back Room,” UK artists Julia Riddiough and Sadie Hennessy took a playful look at gender roles. To understand contemporary masculinity, Riddiough did a residency in a barbershop. There, she observed, photographed, and recorded the thoughts of actual customers, seeing them as they tried not to see themselves—as vulnerable human beings. In the beautiful limited-edition book Barber Shop, she captures their longings and insecurities: hair tonics and dyes priced for all budgets as well as clippings of gray locks mixed with the darker ones of younger men on the floor. Also included were poignant quotes from customers about their lives and take on gender roles.
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Images from Clip Cut Gel by Julia Riddlough

In Clip Cut Gel, a riff on beauty-product infomercials, Riddiough presents three types: Toy Boy, Rough Trade, and Play Boy who also appear on condom wrappers. The show’s title Something for the Weekend, Sir? is a reference to the UK custom of barbers handing out condoms to customers as they pay. By removing male grooming images and rituals from their usual context, Riddiough allows us, with a wink, to question constraints of traditional gender roles.
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Are We Not Men? by Sadie Hennessy

The idea of grooming was also present in Sadie Hennessy’s collages where male and female adornments crash across gender lines. Iconic statesmen wear garlands of flowers; female stars such as Nicole Kidman and Liza Minnelli sport bushy beards. In the middle, The Male Fop sports big Regency hair and glittering Marky Mark briefs. Witty and fun, these pieces quote glamor and news photographs as well as propagandist and pop art.

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Exchange Rates was “an international exposition of artworks and art galleries in and around Bushwick, Brooklyn” that paired more than 16 Bushwick galleries and spaces with an extended list of galleries from the USA and abroad. The event was produced by Sluice__, a London-based art initiative, which joined with Bushwick locals Theodore:Art and Centrotto to bring the concept to life. The four-day event featured Beat Nite, the semi-annual late-night gallery event produced by Norte Maar, along with panel discussions, parties, and a performance art night.