Whorl, Being-in-Emotion at SRO

SRO GALLERY, a  new exhibition space located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, features works by Ashley Garrett and Zach Seeger, two artists with long ties to Bushwick. AIB interviewed the two artists before the upcoming opening of their exhibition.

Zach Seeger, EYE, Oil on canvas, 28" x 36", 2016
Zach Seeger, EYE, Oil on canvas, 28″ x 36″, 2016
Ashley Garrett, PTK, Oil on canvas, 12” x 9”, 2015
Ashley Garrett, PTK, Oil on canvas, 12” x 9”, 2015

AIB: How long have you been working in Bushwick?

Garrett:  I joined Bushwick-based artist-run collective Underdonk in 2014, and I’ve been frequenting Bushwick often for shows and studio visits with Bushwick-based artists since 2013. I had a solo show and group shows around the neighborhood.

Seeger: Although I no longer work in Bushwick, the impetus of the current exhibition at SRO began at 117 Grattan, where I started using the eye motif a year ago. I have participated in shows in Bushwick and for BOS in 2013 I set up work on the street, and in my parked van in front of 117 Grattan. I also hung a fifteen foot un-stretched painting off the roof of the Active Space.  There is a contagious energy for painting in Bushwick and I feel a kinship to many artists there.

AIB: What drew you to Bushwick?

Garrett: Bushwick was the first community of artists I got to know after I moved back to New York; everyone was welcoming and friendly. After graduating from SVA in 2008 I moved upstate, where I rode and trained horses professionally for three years. Bushwick helped orient me to my new situation. It was great to see and meet so many different kinds of artists with serious practices, from a variety of generations. I met there a lot of the friends I have now, and artists I respect.

Seeger: I was first drawn to Bushwick in 2010 when a friend moved to the neighborhood. I started visiting spaces, studios, and people and spent a lot of time at Wayfarers with the group of artists working there. In 2013 I was thrilled to be introduced to the community of artists at Life on Mars Gallery, where I felt an affinity and closeness to the painterly approaches, attitudes, and images.

AIB: What is the genesis of this two person show?

Garrett:  It came out of the studio visits we did and our discussion of the relationship between my ribbon and Zach’s eye series of paintings.  Zach was engaged in a practice of investigating eyes as I was in seeing and articulating the ribbons.  At RISD, Zach installed this show as pairs of ribbons and eyes with lots of space around them. In SRO, Cecilia Whittaker-Doe and Don Doe’s unique space, we installed a kind of swirling constellation.

Seeger: The affinity to one another’s work was instantaneous. We read each other’s work with an intuitive eye, and understood what each other was trying to do in the work. It was a great pairing and we really didn’t need to talk much over; it was an obvious choice.

 Zach Seeger, EYE (turkey), Oil on linen, 20" x 26", 2016

Zach Seeger, EYE (turkey), Oil on linen, 20″ x 26″, 2016
Ashley Garrett, Lightfoot, Oil on canvas, 20” x 10”, 2015
Ashley Garrett, Lightfoot, Oil on canvas, 20” x 10”, 2015

 

AIB: In this show each of you presents a distinct body of work which reads to me like a series with an underlying theme. Did you work on them with a mutual theme in mind?

Garrett: This series of paintings is based on ribbons I won at horse shows from when I was eight years old until recently. The ribbons represent judgments made by the world of a particular performance. However, the actual experience is less literal and more complex than the color of the ribbon: sometimes last place is a great accomplishment, while first place can be a disappointment. The ribbon paintings break down traditional understandings of winning and losing to see into the wealth of complex and often contradictory emotions within the specificities of remembering a particular place, time, and what happened there. Each ribbon may be a synecdoche or metaphor for the physical performance and the skill levels demonstrated through the struggle with and against oneself. They represent  anxiety, hope, achievement, recognition, failure, loss, weakness, power, sensitivity, resignation, embarrassment, shame, joy, and love. I am interested in holding the memories of each ride, win and loss, as I make each painting, to see and feel the whole range of experience and being-in-emotion.

Seeger: The series of eyes I have been working on is a formal motif to frame images and forms within a peripheral context. The paintings are intended to be simultaneously read as interior and exterior; of the body and looking out through a body. I think of them as psychic objects clumsily camouflaged with paint.

 Zach Seeger, Cyclops, Acrylic on board, 18" x 18", 2016

Zach Seeger, Cyclops, Acrylic on board, 18″ x 18″, 2016
Ashley Garrett, Goblin, Oil on canvas, 14” x 12”, 2015
Ashley Garrett, Goblin, Oil on canvas, 14” x 12”, 2015

AIB: What can you tell me about your thought process when you started working on these series?

Garrett:  This is a body of work I began in the summer of 2014 in upstate New York.  I was working on a previous body of work of small still life paintings based on Christmas ornaments that I had made as a child and I was looking for another form for that kind of personal object, related to individual qualities and emotions. When I saw these ribbons I had won hanging on the wall, I thought of the memories they evoked, an accumulation of years of practice, time and care. I began by painting the ribbons as objects with the experiences in mind. The more paintings I made, the less I looked at the actual ribbon and the more improvisation happened.  These paintings are my way of exploring a variety of forms, feeling, intuitions, and situations in connection to both still life and landscape.

Seeger: These paintings are indebted to landscape and place. Many of them literally painted en plein air before applying the eye motif over the image. Painting is how I see; it is how I understand things; it is how I look at the world. I’m not sure if my work is evolving but I am constantly working. It’s like a nightmare where I find myself entering an apartment with bloodstains on the wall and a dead body on the floor. I check to see if the person is ok, but I get blood all over me. In a panic I try to distance myself from the body; I’m not guilty of this crime! But my bloody fingerprints are all over the victim, walls, and surfaces of the apartment. I try to clean up the mess thinking the police will think it is me who did this horror. It is a cycle of staining, smearing, smudging and scrubbing-in the end I make the scene presentable enough.

AIB: How do your paintings relate to each other and how do they differ?

Garrett:  They both involve the reversal of inside and outside spaces within a limited range of formal parameters.  Also both bodies of work are about different kinds of seeing coming from different points of view: Zach’s eye imagery is specific to his experience, and my ribbon images represent my memory of specific experiences as a young child up until a few years ago.

Seeger: The paintings relate to one another in scale and presence. They are rooted in looking. They are not intuitive expressions or descriptions of things, but rather bleak records of memory embedded in our own baroque sensitivities to paint and form. They are similar but arrive at their distinctive image by different modes of operation and paint application.

 Zach Seeger, EYE (computer room), Oil on board, 14" x 20", 2016

Zach Seeger, EYE (computer room), Oil on board, 14″ x 20″, 2016
Ashley Garrett, Siren, Oil on canvas, 12” x 10”, 2016
Ashley Garrett, Siren, Oil on canvas, 12” x 10”, 2016

AIB: We live in time of transition-social, political, ecological. Do you relate to that in your paintings, and if so, in what way?

Garrett: I don’t think the political has to have a direct effect on work to have had an impact on an artist. I think a lot of artists are making work or are trying to make work with or in spite of their complex feelings about the drastic political changes ahead and that can express itself in a multitude of ways. Because of my focus on the landscape I have been thinking about landscape as it relates to climate change and how the landscape itself can and will become a kind of hostile actor against us pretty soon, and then our relationship to it will change drastically. I’m interested in how that transformation might express itself in my work as well as the work of other artists.

Seeger: I am not a political artist, but there probably isn’t anything more poignant than the real-time collapse of species and witnessing a complete transformation of the earth.  I can say that I am not an expressionist; I am not reactionary. I am interested in the formal language of paint: recording and painting a formal reality that is my world. In that sense I am sharing, but my work is not about communicating some sort of emotional current. I think painting is a medium that allows a viewer to see the world on human terms through viewing of the work.

Whorl

SRO Gallery 1144 Dean Street, Crown Heights, Brooklyn NY 11216

Ashley Garrett and Zach Seeger

Opening Reception: January 12th, 6-9PM

Jan 12 – Feb 19

 

Taiga and Babushki in Bushwick: The Work of Dasha Bazanova

Dasha Bazanova in front of her work
Artist Dasha Bazanova in front of her work

Dasha Bazanova spent her childhood in Kulikovо, a little countryside village in northern Russia, where local farmers often use Samogon, a homemade vodka, as currency. Bazanova is a multimedia artist whose ceramics, paintings, drawings, and installations draw upon her Russian heritage, memories, and aspects of Eastern European mythology. Her artwork often refers to huge Taiga forests, Russian people, and colorful folktales. In Bushwick, where she moved right after graduating with her MFA from LIU Post (Long Island) about a year ago, Bazanova has found a supportive art community as well as opportunities to show her work and meet artists of different nationalities who work in similar media.

Dasha Bazanova work
Works by Dasha Bazanova

In her new project that includes both paintings and ceramics, Bazanova is referring to her experiences in the Russian countryside at the time of the Soviet Union. For instance, The Group Portrait depicts a group portrait from a typical kindergarten around Arkhangelsk, a little town in northern Russia, where the artist grew up. She identifies the little girl with a yellow bow-knot as herself, which makes this image particularly endearing.

Dasha Bazanova, The Group Portrait , Oil on Wood, 2015
The Group Portrait by Dasha Bazanova (oil on wood), 2015

Similarly, Walking Behind the Grandmother portrays Bazanova’s grandmother, and Walking Behind Grandmother 2 portrays a typical moment from Russian village life. “Once every two weeks, there was a truck in our village which brought watermelons from the closest little town. This continues today,” Bazanova explains.

Dasha Bazanova, Walking Behind the Grandmother, mixed media, 2014
Walking Behind the Grandmother by Dasha Bazanova (mixed media), 2014

Bazanova also touches upon typical historical moments from the former USSR. In People Waiting, for example, she depicts the long queues created by the coupon-based distribution system, which were a typical device in motivational campaigns. She recalls a joke at that time in the Soviet Union in which a boy asks his mother, “Mama, where is papa?” and the mother responds, “He is standing in the line to get coupons for the coupons.”

Dasha Bazanova, People Waiting , Oil on wood, 2015
People Waiting by Dasha Bazanova (oil on wood), 2015

With more contemporary references, Buranovskiye Babushki portrays an Udmurtian ethno-pop band consisting of eight elderly women who represented the Russian Federation in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012. They finished second. “Since they make me proud, I dedicate to them this painting,” Bazanova adds with a smile.

Dasha Bazanova, Buranovskiye Babushki, Oil on Wood, 2015
Buranovskiye Babushki by Dasha Bazanova (oil on wood), 2015

In her ceramic sculptures, Bazanova also refers to babushki and mythologies. The Russian version of the Romulus and Remus story provides inspiration for the grotesque Breast Feeding. “Making ceramics is a totally opposite process from painting,” says Bazanova. She loves the unpredictability in the glazing process: “There is that feeling you get when you don’t know how the color (glaze) comes out while the sculpture is still firing inside the kiln. Every time, it is a surprise,” she adds.

 Dasha Bazanova, Walking Behind the Grandmother 2 , Ceramic,  2015
Walking Behind the Grandmother 2 by Dasha Bazanova (ceramic), 2015

 

Dasha Bazanova, Breast Feeding, Ceramic, 2015
Breast Feeding by Dasha Bazanova (ceramic), 2015

Overall, both her paintings and ceramic works mine Bazanova’s rich Russian heritage. Now in Bushwick, she sees this community as a haven for forming her identity as an artist. With interest, we look forward to seeing how her experience in Bushwick will affect her artwork.

Dasha Bazanova, Babushki,  Ceramic,: 2015
Babushki by Dasha Bazanova (ceramic), 2015

 

 

The Irony and Sincerity of Jenny Lee

Double Portrait (oil on canvas) by Jenny Lee, 2014
Double Portrait (oil on canvas) by Jenny Lee, 2014

Puns, doubles, optical illusions, and other visual jokes appear in many works by Jenny Lee. In her studio on Irving Street, one finds mostly small-scale, carefully rendered works that are meticulously executed in a variety of media. In Double Portrait, Lee has selected a found object, in this case a photo frame with the standard, mass-produced portrait as the subject of her painting. Painted in a slow and careful manner with a soft and muted color palette, this painting has strange, beautiful, and slightly eerie qualities. We get an echoing of the woman’s face from multiple angles with an almost Cubist perspective of seeing all dimensions at once. It soon becomes apparent that you are looking at a reproduction of a reproduction and yet another reproduction in the reflected double. This playfulness makes the work something akin to Rene Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas un pipe and the general visual wit of Magritte’s work.

 

Works by Jenny Lee: (left) Untitled (pencil on paper), 2008 and (right) Heath at 40 (pencil on paper), 2010
Works by Jenny Lee: (left) Untitled (pencil on paper), 2008 and (right) Heath at 40 (pencil on paper), 2010
Strangeness and eeriness are not subjects from which Lee shies away. In pencil drawings Untitled and Heath at 40, we find two portraits, one of OJ Simpson, whose eyeballs have been replaced with that of an anime character, and the other of Heath Ledger as he would have looked at age 40. Apparent are references to death and the darker side of celebrity, both of which Ledger and Simpson had some association. Simpson has been reduced to a cartoon character and appears as a soulless, inert object, whereas the imagined aged portrait of Ledger is not only a reference to his untimely death, but also a largely ironic rendering, giving specificity to a nonexistent object. These portraits are full of dark humor and continue Lee’s thread of using visual wit and her masterful technical skills to deal with subject matter that can often be quite heavy.
Untitled (inkjet print in a folder) by Jenny Lee, 2015
Untitled (inkjet print in a folder) by Jenny Lee, 2015
Photography, means of reproduction, and preexisting images in the world are strong presences in Lee’s work. She often paints on found objects such as packaging and appropriates similar items. In another Untitled (image above), we find a portrait of a figure wearing a mask whose face is only partially visible. An inkjet print of the portrait is placed in a folder so only one eye is visible to the viewer. The eye hints at an expression of laughter or a menacing smile, which lends itself to the theme of visual puns on eyes, seeing, how we see, representation, and reproduction, all explored by Lee. The mask in this case starts to take on grotesque characteristics pointing to how reproduction can often lead to distortion.
Hippies on a Slant (oil on canvas) by Jenny Lee, 2015
Hippies on a Slant (oil on canvas) by Jenny Lee, 2015
Distortion of the human form is further apparent in Lee’s oil painting Hippies on a Slant. The canvas and the figures represented appear stretched out and elongated as if affected by some physical force. The scene is chaotic, with multiple figures morphing into one another resembling a mosh pit. The faces lack specificity and appear as stand-ins for people, rather than individuals. Confusion, distortion, and haziness are all visible in Hippies on a Slant, which presents an equally puzzling portrait of human nature.
Untitled (oil on canvas) by Jenny Lee, 2015
Untitled (oil on canvas) by Jenny Lee, 2015
Works by Jenny Lee: (left) Untitled, 2014, and (right) Meditation Stones, 2015
Works by Jenny Lee: (left) Untitled, 2014, and (right) Meditation Stones, 2015
Nature and natural forces can also be observed in Lee’s work. In yet another Untitled, we find a small-scale, loosely painted rendering of a landscape. Here again, the landscape appears as more of a signifier rather than any place in particular. This image is paired with a thick gestural brushstroke to create a curious juxtaposition.  Whether rendered in its tranquility as in the pencil drawing Meditation Stones or its volatility as in the dog fight in Untitled, the natural world provides a source of exploration and contemplation for Lee.
Street view of Sister gallery
Street view of Sister, the window gallery operated by Jenny Lee
Detail of work by Terry Young at Sister gallery
Detail of work by Terry Young at Sister gallery
In addition to her artistic practice, Lee runs a curatorial program in Sister, located at 69 Irving Avenue. Epitomizing the ingenuity of DIY, she built this small gallery into one of the windows in her studio. The current show includes works by Peter Wilson, which can be viewed daily from 5PM to 11PM.
Artist Jenny Lee in her studio; image courtesy of Jonathan Chaplin
Artist Jenny Lee in her studio; image courtesy of Jonathan Chaplin
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If you missed Hotel California, the exhibition curated by Lee during Bushwick Open Studios 2015, you can still keep up with her latest projects and see her work by visiting her website

Where Depth Becomes Time: Paintings by Linda Kamille Schmidt

by Michael Sanderson

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Schmidt’s work combines geometric and organic forms; photos by Michael Sanderson

Linda Kamille Schmidt’s paintings work with layers where depth becomes time. Schmidt talked about her process of creating her colorful organic and geometric elements on wood (oil on panel) in her studio on Stewart Avenue. First, “building things up and then see how it’s going, and work it to the point where it’s kind of out of control,” she says, “and then I sand back kind of like I’m digging back into the past.” Sanding paint off the wood to reveal previous layers is a process Schmidt compares to a kind of archaeology, wherein previous layers are excavated and then rebuilt.

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Linda Kamille Schmidt in her Bushwick studio

In addition to forms and patterns, Schmidt also has a special connection to the translucent red found in her paintings. “When I was little, a friend of mine gave me a plastic party hat that was red,” she said. At five years of age, Schmidt would carry her fascination with that color to today. Originally from Kansas, Schmidt received her MA and MFA in drawing and painting from the University of Iowa and has lived in New York City for 24 years. Though she had not planned on staying, Schmidt met her future husband and plans changed. 

For Schmidt, the interplay of the past and the present through the layers of her work becomes very metaphorical. Looking at her exposed past work, she notes, “I’ll paint things on top to hide them, like I don’t want to remember that, that’s too horrifying,” Schmidt adds how, for some works, “it isn’t working [so] I get rid of it,” and “some are transparent, where you can kind of have the past and the underlying layers reforming and reinterpreting the lower layers.”

Oil on panels is not the only medium where this process plays out. “I work on Mylar a lot,” Schmidt says, tugging a translucent sheet off the wall. “I feel like I can cheat a little bit. It’s transparent—I can paint on the back and it goes into the past.” She said both sides of the Mylar can be exhibited, changing the piece based on the viewer’s position. “The backgrounds, they kind of change,” she said. In that way, whatever is on top can prompt a reinterpretation of the history that had been previously laid down.

Once preferring the refinement of custom-made expensive birch panels, Schmidt now layers her oils on “grade C” construction outdoor plywood. The textured, earthy energy to this material speaks to “a theme of destruction, but also hope for something positive.” The idea of earth at some basic level impacts her intuitive process: “Sometimes I start with the drips,” she says, providing “an example of an early process underneath.”

For Bushwick Open Studios 2014, Schmidt will be opening up her studio to visitors. Schmidt’s Bushwick space, where she both works and exhibits, is surrounded by other artists and small businesses. “The couple next to me makes jeans, so I hear their sewing machine going,” she says. About Bushwick, she adds, “I just find it has a really great energy.”

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Schmidt’s studio is located at 44 Stewart Avenue #20 and will be open today from 12—7PM; her work may also be seen as part of a group show at Brooklyn Brush Studio, located at 203 Harrison Place, Room 336 

Where Depth Becomes Time: Paintings by Linda Kamille Schmidt

by Michael Sanderson

image

Schmidt’s work combines geometric and organic forms; photos by Michael Sanderson

Linda Kamille Schmidt’s paintings work with layers where depth becomes time. Schmidt talked about her process of creating her colorful organic and geometric elements on wood (oil on panel) in her studio on Stewart Avenue. First, “building things up and then see how it’s going, and work it to the point where it’s kind of out of control,” she says, “and then I sand back kind of like I’m digging back into the past.” Sanding paint off the wood to reveal previous layers is a process Schmidt compares to a kind of archaeology, wherein previous layers are excavated and then rebuilt.

image

Linda Kamille Schmidt in her Bushwick studio

In addition to forms and patterns, Schmidt also has a special connection to the translucent red found in her paintings. “When I was little, a friend of mine gave me a plastic party hat that was red,” she said. At five years of age, Schmidt would carry her fascination with that color to today. Originally from Kansas, Schmidt received her MA and MFA in drawing and painting from the University of Iowa and has lived in New York City for 24 years. Though she had not planned on staying, Schmidt met her future husband and plans changed. 

For Schmidt, the interplay of the past and the present through the layers of her work becomes very metaphorical. Looking at her exposed past work, she notes, “I’ll paint things on top to hide them, like I don’t want to remember that, that’s too horrifying,” Schmidt adds how, for some works, “it isn’t working [so] I get rid of it,” and “some are transparent, where you can kind of have the past and the underlying layers reforming and reinterpreting the lower layers.”

Oil on panels is not the only medium where this process plays out. “I work on Mylar a lot,” Schmidt says, tugging a translucent sheet off the wall. “I feel like I can cheat a little bit. It’s transparent—I can paint on the back and it goes into the past.” She said both sides of the Mylar can be exhibited, changing the piece based on the viewer’s position. “The backgrounds, they kind of change,” she said. In that way, whatever is on top can prompt a reinterpretation of the history that had been previously laid down.

Once preferring the refinement of custom-made expensive birch panels, Schmidt now layers her oils on “grade C” construction outdoor plywood. The textured, earthy energy to this material speaks to “a theme of destruction, but also hope for something positive.” The idea of earth at some basic level impacts her intuitive process: “Sometimes I start with the drips,” she says, providing “an example of an early process underneath.”

For Bushwick Open Studios 2014, Schmidt will be opening up her studio to visitors. Schmidt’s Bushwick space, where she both works and exhibits, is surrounded by other artists and small businesses. “The couple next to me makes jeans, so I hear their sewing machine going,” she says. About Bushwick, she adds, “I just find it has a really great energy.”

###

Schmidt’s studio is located at 44 Stewart Avenue #20 and will be open today from 12—7PM; her work may also be seen as part of a group show at Brooklyn Brush Studio, located at 203 Harrison Place, Room 336 

Something Darker Lurks: Lucid Dreams by Ginny Casey

by Anna Mikhailovskaia

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Blue Figures by Ginny Casey; all photos by Anna Mikhailovskaia

In Ginny Casey‘s world, nothing is too weird. In one work, shadowy creatures resemble dogs or ghosts staring back out toward the viewer. In others, inanimate objects come to life, scales shift, disassociated heads float about, and other strange things happen, all creating the wonderful universe inside Casey’s paintings.

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Works by Ginny Casey

Natural phenomena—worms squirming or snails writhing—are also relayed by other works. Tree stumps make their appearance; these are sometimes stacked, sometimes placed upright, but often imbued with symbolism that walks a fine line between humorous and tragic, as do most of Casey’s works. Thus, we find tree stumps are cut short, signifying growth stunted, and a staircase is flooded, implying immobility. The imagery appears cartoon-like and light hearted, but something darker lurks beneath the surface.

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Flooded Stairwell by Ginny Casey

The depths of this world are cloaked by the child- or dreamlike, where any object can morph into another or landscapes can shift at any given moment. Looking deeper, however, we find subject matter that is about deeper subconscious drives that compose the human mind. Carl Jung would have certainly found something to write about here. 

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Out of Shell by Ginny Casey

The physical world with all its rich peculiarities seems to be another source of inspiration for Casey. Creatures big and small, along with dirt, water, sticks, and other things one might find in nature, occupy the spaces in her paintings. The soft yet vibrant color palette and the thin, washy application of paint carefully built up on the canvas create an airy effect that feels loose and free. Colors have been carefully chosen by Casey and allude to films or cartoons she may have seen as a child such as Pink Panther or Ren and Stimpy. Similarly, fleshy tones and bulbous shapes lend themselves to the comical yet somewhat absurd feel of these works. 

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Works by Ginny Casey

In anthropomorphized objects, the figure also makes multiple appearances: Clam shells, toilets, and cups are among the objects revealing human faces or some elements thereof. In more blatant reference to the human figure, a rock (another symbol of immobility) has a pair of arms in one painting, and instead of a head, in Sport we find a basketball being crushed by the weight of a rock. Such application of pressure is further evidence of the forces—whether of nature or human psychology—at play in Casey’s world.

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(Above and below) Ginny Casey’s studio

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Ginny Casey in her studio 2014

The representation of the head is one the most recurring images in Casey’s works. The head is often disembodied from the body or morphs into another object altogether. The various representations of the head can of course signify a rich array of meanings or lack thereof, as they pertain to our understanding of the human mind. 

image

Ant Hill by Ginny Casey

Casey offers viewers a free visual language that is vibrant in color and application of paint, which extends beyond their surface qualities. Looking at Casey’s works feels like lucid dreaming or being part of some semi-conscious dream state where your fears and desires can confront you as shifts in landscape or objects come to life. Fantastical or absurd, funny or sad, these works are all of the above. 

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Sport by Ginny Casey

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Ginny Casey’s studio, located at 17-17 Troutman Street #251, will be open during Bushwick Open Studios 2014 on Saturday and Sunday, May 31—June 1, 12—7PM

Anna Mikhailovskaia is an artist based in Brooklyn, NY

Something Darker Lurks: Lucid Dreams by Ginny Casey

by Anna Mikhailovskaia

image

Blue Figures by Ginny Casey; all photos by Anna Mikhailovskaia

In Ginny Casey‘s world, nothing is too weird. In one work, shadowy creatures resemble dogs or ghosts staring back out toward the viewer. In others, inanimate objects come to life, scales shift, disassociated heads float about, and other strange things happen, all creating the wonderful universe inside Casey’s paintings.

image

Works by Ginny Casey

Natural phenomena—worms squirming or snails writhing—are also relayed by other works. Tree stumps make their appearance; these are sometimes stacked, sometimes placed upright, but often imbued with symbolism that walks a fine line between humorous and tragic, as do most of Casey’s works. Thus, we find tree stumps are cut short, signifying growth stunted, and a staircase is flooded, implying immobility. The imagery appears cartoon-like and light hearted, but something darker lurks beneath the surface.

image

Flooded Stairwell by Ginny Casey

The depths of this world are cloaked by the child- or dreamlike, where any object can morph into another or landscapes can shift at any given moment. Looking deeper, however, we find subject matter that is about deeper subconscious drives that compose the human mind. Carl Jung would have certainly found something to write about here. 

image

Out of Shell by Ginny Casey

The physical world with all its rich peculiarities seems to be another source of inspiration for Casey. Creatures big and small, along with dirt, water, sticks, and other things one might find in nature, occupy the spaces in her paintings. The soft yet vibrant color palette and the thin, washy application of paint carefully built up on the canvas create an airy effect that feels loose and free. Colors have been carefully chosen by Casey and allude to films or cartoons she may have seen as a child such as Pink Panther or Ren and Stimpy. Similarly, fleshy tones and bulbous shapes lend themselves to the comical yet somewhat absurd feel of these works. 

image

Works by Ginny Casey

In anthropomorphized objects, the figure also makes multiple appearances: Clam shells, toilets, and cups are among the objects revealing human faces or some elements thereof. In more blatant reference to the human figure, a rock (another symbol of immobility) has a pair of arms in one painting, and instead of a head, in Sport we find a basketball being crushed by the weight of a rock. Such application of pressure is further evidence of the forces—whether of nature or human psychology—at play in Casey’s world.

image

(Above and below) Ginny Casey’s studio

image

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Ginny Casey in her studio 2014

The representation of the head is one the most recurring images in Casey’s works. The head is often disembodied from the body or morphs into another object altogether. The various representations of the head can of course signify a rich array of meanings or lack thereof, as they pertain to our understanding of the human mind. 

image

Ant Hill by Ginny Casey

Casey offers viewers a free visual language that is vibrant in color and application of paint, which extends beyond their surface qualities. Looking at Casey’s works feels like lucid dreaming or being part of some semi-conscious dream state where your fears and desires can confront you as shifts in landscape or objects come to life. Fantastical or absurd, funny or sad, these works are all of the above. 

image

Sport by Ginny Casey

###

Ginny Casey’s studio, located at 17-17 Troutman Street #251, will be open during Bushwick Open Studios 2014 on Saturday and Sunday, May 31—June 1, 12—7PM

Anna Mikhailovskaia is an artist based in Brooklyn, NY

Beautiful Response to the Despairingly Miserable: James Feld and His Art

by Nadia Kazmi

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Work (graphite on paper) by James Feld; all images courtesy of the artist

As a multimedia artist utilizing various traditional and non-traditional mediums such as copper, graphite, glass, and graphite on paper, James Feld has been pursuing art professionally for three years. Feld attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, but left after five semesters, feeling that his personality was “pretty incompatible with an academic setting.”  After a decade away from art spent working mostly blue-collar jobs, Feld had an epiphany and realized that he was repressing his artistic instinct.  He could not function without art, and so three years ago, he began to paint his first piece since leaving college and has not looked back. 

Feld finds inspiration for his art in his upbringing. His parents were anti-establishment baby boomers, which imprinted on him the whole 1960s gestalt. He learned cultural and artistic sensibilities from his mother’s record collection and old magazines. His grandmother was also an artist, who encouraged him and gave him “sketchbooks and fancy markers when the other kids had Crayolas.” He notes, “kids typically get into art because it brings them positive attention. But as an adult, my operating premise is [that] the world is so despairingly miserable that the only redemption is to make something beautiful.”

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Works by James Feld

His current collection on display for Bushwick Open Studios is an amalgamation of reactions to what he sees going on around him: culture, technology, politics—all of which form a single discipline for him. Feld is constantly striving to make sense of “the complete insanity of our post-9/11, fragmented consumer culture.” He tries to decode those perceptions in a distilled visual form. His Logos:Disorientation series transforms the universal visual language of iconography in a way that suggests the authority we lend certain institutions is not absolute. 

Setting no limits on mediums, Feld usually goes wherever a concept takes him. Sometimes the material drives the concept. For the series Stimulus and Depressants, he used materials that some might consider physically eccentric: pulverized copper and nickel, shredded dollar bills, glass vials, gelatin capsules. In terms of representational work or abstraction, Feld feels painting has no substitute. He defers to acrylic on canvas by default, but he thinks the backbone of all visual art is drawing. Thus, in between his more serious, ambitious works, Feld draws huge, Chuck-Close-like large-scale portraits using pencil.

Admitting with some embarrassment that he does know much about the Bushwick community because he is pretty insular by nature, Feld notes how the sheer amount of artists in the area can be intimidating. He finds the accelerated cycle of neighborhoods “horrific,” shifting from cheap, unknown, and affordable to artist saturated, driven by real estate, and with price-gouging, ever-tightening studio space. Such rapid shifts, Feld worries, can erase creative potential. Feld says, “Anyone who moves here to become an artist is insane. It’s like moving to the Amazon to learn ice sculpture.”

Nevertheless, for BOS’14, Feld hopes “to meet cool people who appreciate what he’s doing.” He adds, “Positive encouragement sustains [him] more than anyone can understand. A sale just pays a couple of bills.” His recommendations for people attending BOS’14 is “to stay away the large studio buildings…There’s so much great work in the isolated, out-of-the-way spots. The intimacy of the smaller spaces fosters an environment more conducive for connection.” Feld suggests that visitors save “having to deal with the crowds for the after-parties.”

Feld’s studio is located at the ambiguous intersection of Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and Greenpoint, which is also two blocks from Ridgewood. Describing it as “that destination in the desert where you can stand in four states at once,” Feld usually just says “it’s near Pumps strip club” when giving directions to his studio. When asked about his future plans, Feld jokes that his lease is up, so he will “probably stalk Robert Longo or Raymond Pettibon until the restraining order appears on ArtInfo.”

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After BOS’14, Feld will be working on new projects so this is the last chance to view his work for a while; his studio is located at 1013 Grand Street #28 and will be open Saturday—Sunday, May 31—June 1, 12—7PM

Beautiful Response to the Despairingly Miserable: James Feld and His Art

by Nadia Kazmi

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Work (graphite on paper) by James Feld; all images courtesy of the artist

As a multimedia artist utilizing various traditional and non-traditional mediums such as copper, graphite, glass, and graphite on paper, James Feld has been pursuing art professionally for three years. Feld attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, but left after five semesters, feeling that his personality was “pretty incompatible with an academic setting.”  After a decade away from art spent working mostly blue-collar jobs, Feld had an epiphany and realized that he was repressing his artistic instinct.  He could not function without art, and so three years ago, he began to paint his first piece since leaving college and has not looked back. 

Feld finds inspiration for his art in his upbringing. His parents were anti-establishment baby boomers, which imprinted on him the whole 1960s gestalt. He learned cultural and artistic sensibilities from his mother’s record collection and old magazines. His grandmother was also an artist, who encouraged him and gave him “sketchbooks and fancy markers when the other kids had Crayolas.” He notes, “kids typically get into art because it brings them positive attention. But as an adult, my operating premise is [that] the world is so despairingly miserable that the only redemption is to make something beautiful.”

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Works by James Feld

His current collection on display for Bushwick Open Studios is an amalgamation of reactions to what he sees going on around him: culture, technology, politics—all of which form a single discipline for him. Feld is constantly striving to make sense of “the complete insanity of our post-9/11, fragmented consumer culture.” He tries to decode those perceptions in a distilled visual form. His Logos:Disorientation series transforms the universal visual language of iconography in a way that suggests the authority we lend certain institutions is not absolute. 

Setting no limits on mediums, Feld usually goes wherever a concept takes him. Sometimes the material drives the concept. For the series Stimulus and Depressants, he used materials that some might consider physically eccentric: pulverized copper and nickel, shredded dollar bills, glass vials, gelatin capsules. In terms of representational work or abstraction, Feld feels painting has no substitute. He defers to acrylic on canvas by default, but he thinks the backbone of all visual art is drawing. Thus, in between his more serious, ambitious works, Feld draws huge, Chuck-Close-like large-scale portraits using pencil.

Admitting with some embarrassment that he does know much about the Bushwick community because he is pretty insular by nature, Feld notes how the sheer amount of artists in the area can be intimidating. He finds the accelerated cycle of neighborhoods “horrific,” shifting from cheap, unknown, and affordable to artist saturated, driven by real estate, and with price-gouging, ever-tightening studio space. Such rapid shifts, Feld worries, can erase creative potential. Feld says, “Anyone who moves here to become an artist is insane. It’s like moving to the Amazon to learn ice sculpture.”

Nevertheless, for BOS’14, Feld hopes “to meet cool people who appreciate what he’s doing.” He adds, “Positive encouragement sustains [him] more than anyone can understand. A sale just pays a couple of bills.” His recommendations for people attending BOS’14 is “to stay away the large studio buildings…There’s so much great work in the isolated, out-of-the-way spots. The intimacy of the smaller spaces fosters an environment more conducive for connection.” Feld suggests that visitors save “having to deal with the crowds for the after-parties.”

Feld’s studio is located at the ambiguous intersection of Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and Greenpoint, which is also two blocks from Ridgewood. Describing it as “that destination in the desert where you can stand in four states at once,” Feld usually just says “it’s near Pumps strip club” when giving directions to his studio. When asked about his future plans, Feld jokes that his lease is up, so he will “probably stalk Robert Longo or Raymond Pettibon until the restraining order appears on ArtInfo.”

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After BOS’14, Feld will be working on new projects so this is the last chance to view his work for a while; his studio is located at 1013 Grand Street #28 and will be open Saturday—Sunday, May 31—June 1, 12—7PM

About the Invisible: Sound and Video Artist Joshua Liebowitz

by Christopher Stout; photos by Willow Goldstein

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Sound and video artist Joshua Liebowitz at his Bushwick studio

A stand out among this year’s more than 600 registered Bushwick Open Studios participants is sound/video artist Joshua Liebowitz, Located at 181 Irving Avenue (BOS map marker 257), his studio will be open to visitors on Sunday, June 1, 12—7PM. Liebowitz will be showing a compilation of video, computer, sound, and technology-based work. In addition, he will also be exhibiting two video pieces with Bushwick Art Crit Group’s  BACG POP UP exhibition.

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Joshua Liebowitz studio image from the BOS 2014 Directory; photo courtesy of the artist

The BACG editorial team recently visited Liebowitz in his studio to engage in a dialogue about his art and to postulate on the overarching constructs that prevail in his different genres of work. Giving context to the binding elements in his work, Liebowitz said, “In the end my work is about the invisible: its indication at the edge of the senses, the interplay of space and objects in a constellation of mediums. How else to feel the weight of the gap than through the tug of a sound on color, data on text, or image on place? How else, but to explore and allude? I’ll see you in the swirl of it all.” We certainly hope so!

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Joshua Liebowitz perrformance image; photo courtesy of the artist

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I-V-IV Seventeen by Joshua Liebowitz; photo courtesy of the artist

Visitors to BOS’14 are encouraged to experience the stunning and thoughtfully introspective collection of art works by Liebowitz presented as part of Bushwick Open Studios as well as his video selections at the BACG POP UP.

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Joshua Liebowitz BOS’14 presentation, 181 Irving Street, Sunday, June 1, 12—7PM

Joshua Liebowitz, BACG POP UP exhibition, Brooklyn Fire Proof, 119 Ingraham Street, 2nd Floor, Saturday and Sunday, May 31—June 1, 12—7PM