Each year, Arts in Bushwick organizes an exhibition and raffle of locally produced art to raise funds for the all-volunteer organization and awareness for Bushwick Open Studios, one of the largest studio festivals in the country. Previously a one-day event, this year’s show called Making History has been expanded into a three-week run that began on 19 April and will conclude with the raffle on 10 May from 4PM to 8PM. This offers extended exposure for the participating artists and a chance for viewers to absorb the 400 pieces of art on display at Storefront Ten Eyck and the online gallery. With 90% of the works estimated to be worth at least $500 each, the $200 raffle tickets are an art lover’s dream.
The show also offers the chance to purchase limited-edition prints by Meryl Meisler and Rico Gatson. Meisler, an art teacher at IS 291 during the 1980s, photographed Bushwick when it was a no man’s land of burnt-out buildings and rubble-strewn lots. She fell in love with the light and the people, who persevered through great hardship. Gatson, represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, contributed a print from “Cotton Pickers,” a series inspired by field workers in the American South.
The title of the exhibition was inspired by a Loren Munk essay called History by Exclusion, Illuminating the “Dark Matter” of the Art World. In it, he talks about the “energy that is ‘art’”—the human thinking, learning, and interactions that, in addition to actions, lead to the production of the physical objects we call art. He urges us to focus on the full spectrum of creativity and to embrace a more inclusive vision of art history. There are allusions to self-determination and new models. In this spirit, the organizers structured the benefit show as a wide-open call, with curators Krista Saunders Scenna and Dexter Wimberly brought in to hang the work and create cohesive narratives from it.
It was daunting, a “curatorial reality-show challenge,” according to Saunders Scenna, who had never dealt with so many artists in one place at one time. She and Wimberly began with a “target” piece on each wall, then progressed “intuitively, in the moment, one-by-one,” letting “each work play off the next.” She called the art “strong” and said “it also taught me not to be afraid of the all-inclusive model.”
In this show, there is also the sense of an art history moment in full bloom. To document it, works will be featured in a book, along with critical essays by prominent writers. “From a sociological stand point,” said Peter Fox, one of the organizers, “no one’s ever recorded one of these scenes.” Their goal was not only to capture it, but also to “hold a mirror up” so that members of the Bushwick arts community would realize that “everyone there, whether they’re famous or not, is part of the scene.”
Bushwick Open Studios grown tremendously since the first event was held in 2006 with 85 participating studios. Now more than 600 artists register, with many concurrent shows and events. Making History is a great way to sample the art and energy of a very special neighborhood and to support an organization that gives back to it year-round through programs such as the AiB High School Fellows. The wide range of works on display—paintings, drawings, photographs, constructions, deconstructions, and genre-busting media combinations—reflect highly creative people who color freely and fiercely outside proscribed lines. They see differently and think differently too.
Making History is about them, artists whose lives and careers are unfolding now. Rooted in Bushwick, by extension the show also reflects the neighborhood. The creative scene in Bushwick is large, dynamic, and aesthetically diverse. This show doesn’t speak for the community, it roars.
Making History can be viewed at Storefront Ten Eyck Gallery, 324 Ten Eyck Street, Brooklyn, Saturdays and Sundays 1:00–6:00PM through May 9, 2015, and via the online gallery. The AiB Benefit Artwork Raffle will take place at the gallery on May 10, 2015, from 4PM to 8PM. Tickets to the raffle can also be purchased online