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.
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. “
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trans-Cen-Der Temporary Storage Gallery space inside Brooklyn Fireproof 119 Ingraham Street Brooklyn, NY 11237
On Tuesday, January 31st, on a cold winter evening, the Temporary Storage Gallery space in Brooklyn Fireproof was heated up by a lively dialogue about art. Trans-cen-der Art Group launched their first meeting, featuring six speakers: Sharilyn Neidhardt, Christopher Stout, Cibele Vieira, Tim Gowan, Luis Martin, and Meer Musa. The second meeting will take place on Feb 28th at 7PM, featuring artists including Mary DeVincentis, Thomas Burr Dodd, Heidi King, Kurt Steger, Dan Romer, Susan Carr, among others.
AIB interviewed by email the three founders of this initiative: Meer Musa, Sharilyn Neidhardt, and Tim Gowan.
AIB: What is the genesis of Trans-cen-der Art Group?
SHARILYN: Christopher Stout ran a very similar group for three years called Bushwick Arts Critique Group. The three of us all attended and/or presented at some point and found it extremely enriching. When Christopher decided to focus on running a gallery, Bushwick Arts Critique Group stopped meeting. I started bugging Christopher about re-starting the group, and eventually he relented, so long as we called it something completely different. Christopher was ridiculously supportive in putting everything together. I quickly realized that I’d need help, and Christopher put me in touch with Meer and Tim, who had also asked about getting the group going again. I had met both Meer Musa and Tim Gowan before, through Arts in Bushwick and other arts-related events. We started meeting in November for a January launch.
TIM: I received an email from Christopher Stout announcing that he was turning over the reins of BACG to Sharilyn, and extended an invitation to me to be a part this great program. What I loved about BACG is that it a community event bringing artists and other like-minded people together.
AIB: How long have you been in Bushwick / or associated with the neighborhood?
MEER: I have been living in Bushwick since 2010 and I have started to participate as soon as I was aware of the Bushwick Art Scene, which was the following summer during Bushwick Open Studios. My main medium is painting. I have shown my paintings in Storefront Ten Eyck, David and Schweitzer Contemporary, Studio 10 and, Parenthesis Space in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
SHARILYN: I’ve lived in East Williamsburg since 2008 and have had a studio (with Cibele Vieira) at Brooklyn Fireproof since 2015. I participated in Bushwick Open Studios from 2011 and served on the Arts in Bushwick core committee in 2016. I’m a painter who has shown with David & Schweitzer, Friday Studio Gallery, and Parenthesis, among others.
TIM: I was born in Queens, grew up on Long Island. In 1999 I decided to move within the City with the intention of moving to Astoria (affordable at one time). But, as things should turn out, I unexpectedly moved to Ridgewood.
AIB: What are you aiming to achieve in these events ?
MEER: We are aiming to have artists share their work with other artists and curators, and speak about their works in front of a supporting crowd. It is a great opportunity for artists to expose their art work to a room full of audience, build an artist community, and support one another.
SHARILYN: It’s so easy for artists to get isolated, alone in a studio setting for hours at a time. My work transformed from an engrossing hobby to a serious practice once I started painting at Brooklyn Fireproof. Suddenly there were other artists in my space looking at my work, involving me in their projects, asking for my feedback. Feeling part of a community was not only healthier for me, but moved my work forward immeasurably. Now I just want to grow and enrich that community in any way I can, hopefully providing a similar salubrious push for other artists.
TIM: Community, community, community. There’s nothing worse than walking into a gallery opening or social event where it appears that everyone knows each other except me…painfully awkward. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s ever felt that way. So with Trans-cen-der, we want to foster community and create an environment that encourages social connection. For example, at the end of the evening, we all go out to dinner and EVERYONE is not only welcome, but encouraged to join us.
AIB: Are you scheduling ahead?
MEER: The next slide presentation / Art Talk will take place on Tuesday, February 28th.
SHARILYN: Current plan is to meet the last Tuesday of the month for the foreseeable future. We are taking turns putting each evening together. In addition, we will be hosting smaller side-projects. I am hosting an informal chat session for artists who want to discuss the materials and techniques they use in their art practice, it’s scheduled for Thurs Feb 16.
TIM: Meer will host this month (February), I will host next month (March), Sharilyn will host April, and then back to Meer for the month of May.
AIB: Can artists apply, is it invitational, or both?
MEER: Artist can apply. At the moment we may have a few space left. It will be eight artists maximum. If the space gets filled, we can keep them in mind for the following event.
SHARILYN: It’s both, and it’s up to the host of the evening to decide who presents.
TIM: We strongly encourage artists to apply, and not only local artist, but artists from all over are welcome to submit their work for consideration.
AIB: What are your criteria for presenters?
MEER: Nine minutes talk and maximum 10 jpg (RGB) images from a series. Images need to be 72 DPI at least 15” to 18” width and however in length. Artists can send JPGS to: firstname.lastname@example.org with WeTransfer or Dropbox storage space art file link.
SHARILYN: Currently we are considering only visual art that can be conveyed in still images. We can’t support video at the moment, but that’s something we are actively looking to change in the future. I don’t want to discourage video artists, but you might have to help us with the technical details!
AIB: I assume you are all artists? Tell me briefly about your own practice and if you are involved in community activity.
MEER: I am a painter, my other practices are drawings and photography. Besides my involvement in Trans-cen-der Art Group I helped out during the Bushwick Open Studio opening events, set up and dismantle benefit art shows.
SHARILYN: I’m a painter and I also dabble in photography and printmaking.
TIM: I’m a painter and I also play with mixed media, street and guerilla art. Over the past three years, I have volunteered for numerous events associated with Arts In Bushwick, which includes Community Day, Open Studios, and other events where I am needed.
AIB: Tell me about the first presenters: how did you put these artists together.
SHARILYN: I thought it would be easier to curate and invite other artists if we put ourselves through the process first. It became a way to practice putting the evening together and to focus our message. We included Christopher as the creative progenitor of Trans-cen-der, and he helped us get many details in place. Cibele Vieira and Luis Martin are supportive fellow travelers well-versed in creating and maintaining art communities.
MEER: Our first presenters included the team that started Trans-Cen-Der art group. We included Christopher Stout, who started Bushwick Art Crit, Sharilyn invited her studio mate Cibele Vieira, and I invited artist Luis Martin.
AIB: Anything I did not ask and you would love to share?
MEER: My sub group for “Artists who meditate” will soon have a place to meet and speak about how their practice helps them stay centered in order to make time for creativity.
SHARILYN: Our first night of presentations was an overwhelming success! I was excited by all the people who showed up not only to be supportive on a cold winter Tuesday, but also asked pointed questions, and were eager to participate. I’d also like to mention that we are indebted to Thomas Burr Dodd and Hazel Lee Santino of Brooklyn Fireproof for not only providing a space for us, but also for guiding our organizational process. We definitely could not be without their enthusiastic support.
TIM: I also want to thank Christopher Stout, Thomas Burr Dodd, and Hazel Lee Santino for their support.
When I first decided to volunteer my time to organizing Bushwick Open Studios, I foolishly assumed that I was joining a somewhat haphazard and chaotically managed enterprise. Admittedly, my rationalization for this conclusion was based on the persistent stereotype of artists as utterly disordered individuals who are prone to erratic behavior—a misperception which I know firsthand is not true. Nevertheless, it’s a hard one to ignore or correct. That characterization, coupled with a second false assumption on my part that BOS is run entirely by Bushwick artists, led me to believe that its one of those rare events that inexplicably comes together at the last minute.
Happily, this could not be farther from the truth. In fact, BOS happens with smashing success because a large number of smart, talented, detail-oriented, and responsible people—artists, arts administrators, and community members from all facets of life—come together several times a week many months ahead of time to meticulously hash out every. single. detail. From the bigger picture concepts to tedious minutiae, like handing out flyers on a rainy Saturday in April. Which is exactly what more than a handful of volunteers did last weekend. This year, it became clear to us (the BOS organizers and volunteers) that the unique development leading up to BOS deserves attention and recognition. So consider this post the first in a series of “backstage” features—what I will tag TCB stories—aimed at providing transparency to all that goes into executing BOS.
Last week, I met with roughly half our blog team to begin working on hub profiles. Each year, Bushwick businesses, cafes, art spaces, restaurants, etc, offer their locations as central meeting points where visitors can pick up maps, find lists of participating studios, see event schedules, and access other vital information needed for the weekend. Most often, the hubs are also highly involved in BOS, either hosting mixers, exhibiting their own shows, and/or helping to drum up excitement. The profiles shine a spotlight on the people behind the hubs and let everyone know what they’re up to this year for BOS.
To get started, we divided the nine hubs between the bloggers, sending each person off with 2-3 specific locations to profile. Photographers less keen on writing paired up with those with strong voices and vice versa. I encouraged our bloggers to conduct the profile interviews in person, but they didn’t need much—most were eager to be out and about, interacting with their community in person. Meer Musa, who is a local Bushwick photographer helping with the Blog, smartly brought his camera along and had a patron snap this picture of us at Little Skips (a BOS hub of course) and the one above. He also took a photograph saturated with rich color detailing the vibrant scene outside of the cafe. I couldn’t resist including it here.
In addition to the Blog meeting, last weekend a group of volunteers braved the windy rain to pass out flyers in the street Saturday afternoon. Meryl Meisler, another local Brooklyn photographer, took several photographs of the group being rewarded with pizza for their efforts. She also captured several candid images from the first mixer at Bodega’s Wine Bar.