Second Round of applause at Trans-Cen-Der

All images courtesy of the presenting artists

Trans-Cen-Der Art Group  hosted its second round of artists’ presentations at the  Temporary Storage Gallery space inside Brooklyn Fireproof. Led by Meer Musa, the presentations were engaging, and the overall atmosphere was supportive and friendly. Presenting artists: Mary DeVincentis HerzogSeth Ruggles HilerSusan Carr, Kurt Steger, Brent OwensDan RomerThomas Burr Dodd & Heidi King.
Co-hosts Tim Gowan and Sharilyn Neidhardt.
Trans-Cen-Der next event is on Tuesday, March 28th hosted by Tim Gowan.

Painter Mary DeVincentis Herzog employs in her imaginative paintings a deeply personal iconography to investigate the dilemmas and mysteries of existence. She is currently working on “Dark Matters”, a series of paintings exploring the shadow side of human experience and Sin Eaters, a series which depicts society’s saints, martyrs, scapegoats and outcasts.

 Mary DeVincentis Herzog, Spiral Safety Dance, oil on found wood, 12" x 19", 2016

Mary DeVincentis Herzog, Spiral Safety Dance, oil on found wood, 12″ x 19″, 2016

Kurt Steger’s sculpture series “Urban Structures” addresses the loss that cultures or communities experience from the destruction in this era of massive urban expansion. Steger uses this cycle of destruction as a literal foundation; each sculpture features a found piece of Bushwick concrete rubble as a base upon which he creates form-fitting abstract shapes, overall designed as a type of a sacred space that honors the memory of its foundation’s past. Although in most of the works, the structures contain an object or material, such as earth from Tibet, white sage, seeds, or notes composed as prayers, the overall  spiritual aspect remains largely open to interpretation. Steger says, “All of my work is designed to provoke contemplation about space, time, community, and man’s responsibilities to the environment. “

Kurt Steger, Urban Stupa #3
Kurt Steger, Urban Stupa #3

Susan Carr‘s favorite two words are “what if”, as they keep her practice fresh and push her ideas forward. This painter and mixed media artist is currently sculpting. She sees her three dimensional artworks as” deconstructed paintings”, since their nexus was the frame. Her playful and highly tactile sculptures include oil paint, wood, found objects, and clay. Susan is also making cartoonish drawings as a reaction to the ongoing political climate, as drawing consistently functions as the backbone of her practice.

Susan Carr, Indagadadavidapleideas
Susan Carr, Indagadadavidapleideas

Seth Ruggles Hiler is most influenced by the communities and geography of his surroundings, creating and recording connections to people and place through painting and drawing. Trained  at the New York Academy of Art, Hiler fuses a sensibility for classical painting with a contemporary take on color and composition. He says that he strives to go beyond creating likeness or surface description by expressing a momentary relationship to the subject or place, ultimately aiming to share an intimate exchange between artist, subject, viewer and community.

Seth Ruggles Hiler, Hanging in Ascension, oil on canvas 70 x 48 in

Brent Owens’ work, primarily sculptural and largely based in woodworking, fuses two disparate strains of Americana – workmanship and a thirst for novelty. Owen’s playful and seamless combination of materials, such as wood and neon for example, results in a particular strand of pop production that reads as both artificial and organic, altogether bordering on the surreal.

Brent Owens, Waving Through the Flames, 2014, wood, wire, acrylic lacquer, plug, 41″h x 20″w x 1.5″d

Dan Romer says he is fearless when he is doing his art. He is not looking to record what he sees, but rather what he feels; “life is not static, and neither is my work.” he says.

Dan Romer, Crispy Bacon, mixed media w/foil work on paper. 19" x 24"
Dan Romer, Crispy Bacon, mixed media w/foil work on paper. 19″ x 24″

Thomas Burr Dodd admits that he suffers from anxiety over his artistic abilities, yet has a very base desire to communicate this way. Sometimes at odds with this desire, Burr is also a businessman who prides himself on adding value to the world. He has developed an art-making process that allows him to leave behind the day-to-day stresses of business and embrace his creative side. He starts with a deep mindful meditation,  then draws blind while concentrating on an imagery based on deeply intimate experiences. He has benefited from being tapped into the incredible creative energies swirling around him, and is proud to be a part of the Bushwick creative community.

Thomas “Burr” Dodd , Down But Not Out, 2016, digital drawing.
Thomas “Burr” Dodd , Down But Not Out, 2016, digital drawing.

Trans-Cen-Der  Temporary Storage Gallery space inside Brooklyn Fireproof 119 Ingraham Street Brooklyn, NY 11237

A Genuine Urge to Behold: ‘Meltdown’ by Kurt Steger

By Etty Yaniv


Opening night at ArtHelix, with partial view of Meltdown by Kurt Steger; photo courtesy of Vincent Romaniello

Suspended murky waterdrops on the verge of dripping from an icicle onto a sheet of paper prove to be almost hypnotic in Kurt Steger’s interactive project at ArtHelix. Utilizing elegant wooden contraptions made of a rotating large-scale low wooden table, a transportable tall crane-like sculpture, and a few low benches, Steger’s participatory performance evokes a genuine urge to behold the genesis of a fresh mark, from the first drip to the final circular tracing. The resulting drip drawings hang on the walls, mostly depicting  circular forms that range from dark sepias to vibrant yellows and rusty oranges.


(Above and below) Close-ups of Meltdown by Kurt Steger at ArtHelix; photos courtesy of the artist


Reminiscent of playing a board game or raking a Zen garden, Steger’s circles are formed by a group of participants sitting around a table and turning it. The ice that drips onto the paper contains materials such as carbon, rust, soil, and locally harvested toxic waters. As participants rotate the paper manually, the melting ice creates a Zen-like circle of urban stains. “The detritus frozen into the ice pods stains the paper onto which it drips in the same way that our devastating carbon footprint stains the earth,” Steger elaborates.  With notions of ritual, environment, and community in mind, the artist invites visitors to participate in what he calls “the creative impulse.“

image(Above and below) Close-ups of drip drawings by Kurt Steger at ArtHelix; photos by Etty Yaniv for Arts in Bushwick



There is a shamanistic aura to Steger’s work. Yet, it is far from a trendy or ironic new age trip, a didactic sermon on global warming, or a doom and gloom apocalyptic scenario. “My interest in environmentalism and psychology are prevalent in all my work,” says Steger, who had resided in the mountains of Virginia and Northern California before arriving in Bushwick more than two years ago. His urge seems idealistic but also pragmatic with a playful bent: “Our planet is in deep peril, and yet even in the midst of its demise, there is beauty, and therefore hope,” he says. This series of drip drawings materialized after Steger moved to New York. “There was a dramatic shift between living in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the urban grittiness of Brooklyn, and I felt the need to express my longing for nature,” he contemplates.


Large Circle No. 1 (1472 Drips) by Kurt Steger at ArtHelix; photo by Etty Yaniv for Arts in Bushwick


(Clockwise from top left) Runoff No. 2, Runoff No. 3, Runoff No. 5, Runoff No. 6, Runoff No. 4, Runoff No. 7; all works by Kurt Steger at ArtHelix; photo by Etty Yaniv for Arts in Bushwick


Besides conveying Steger’s love of nature mixed with his deep concern for the environment, Meltdown also highlights the importance of the communal experience. Steger projects an immersive John Cage-like meditation, in which process, form, and content merge seamlessly. The performance not only echoes the meltdown of the environment, but also urges people to seek a solution through a communal focus.


Artist Kurt Steger (left) with visitors to Meltdown at ArtHelix on opening night; photo courtesy of the artist

Similarly, in his ongoing project entitled “Lodge,” the artist invites conversation in an open-aired construction that alludes to a Native American sweat lodge. Installed in a wide range of locations, from gritty urban lots (e.g., Harrison Place, Bushwick), to panoramic coastal settings (e.g., Portland, Maine), the artist creates a spacious, sacred container for sharing stories. He believes that when we open our hearts to each other “we access the brilliance within and communally tap into our creativity. In doing so, we increase the chance of finding new ways to live sustainably.”


Lodge by Kurt Steger, installed in Harrison Place, Bushwick; photo by Etty Yaniv for Arts in Bushwick


Lodge by Kurt Steger, installed in Portland, Maine; photo by Etty Yaniv for Arts in Bushwick

Steger says that when an artist activates objects in the world, he also activates nature and brings it to a place of aesthetic resonance, which in turn leads to a positive societal change. “It is my hope that by bringing nature into an urban environment, I offer the possibility of mitigating both our personal wounds and our cultural malaise,” he elaborates. His work conveys an urgent plea to fight the ignorance that drives us to destruction, mixed with a subtle longing for human bonding. In Meltdown, Steger offers visitors this opportunity, by sitting together in a circle and focusing on a single drip.


Artist Kurt Steger (second from left) with visitors engaging with Meltdown at ArtHelix; photo by Etty Yaniv for Arts in Bushwick


Artist Kurt Steger with partial view of his works included in Meltdown at ArtHelix


Kurt Steger’s Meltdown will be on view at Art Helix from 24 October to 30 November 2014; ArtHelix is located at 299 Meserole Street, with gallery hours Friday-Sunday, 12-6PM

Art is Music is Art series by Sarah H Reynolds 

Artist: Kurt Steger  

Featured Work: ‘Beaver’, 28” x 11” x 6” (relatively small for my work), Materials are Birch tree fallen by a beaver, maple, found concrete, sinew, canvass, sand. All found and recycled materials.

Song: ’Ancestor Song‘ by Robbie Robertson

Connection: My work is based in the environment and the precarious relationship humans have with nature.

To our elders who teach us of our creation and our past.

So we may preserve mother earth for ancestors yet to come.

We are the land.

To our brothers and sisters and all living things.

Across mother earth.

Her beauty we’ve destroyed.

And denied the honor the Creator has given each individual.

The truth is in our hands.

All my relations.