Tonight, some of Deborah Brown’s bright, surreal, almost abstract paintings — inspired by the Bushwick landscape — will be featured in the opening of a at the Lesley Heller Workspace on the Lower East Side.
Though the artist shows downtown (she’ll be back at Lesley Heller for a solo exhibition in February), few things represent the explosion of the Bushwick gallery scene more dramatically than the big move she’s making there.
In December of 2009, when Brown opened Storefront Bushwick in a tiny space she found on Craigslist, it joined the neighborhood’s growing roster of artist-run galleries, such as English Kills and Pocket Utopia. Now she’s upgrading to a 7,000-square-foot former factory at 324 Ten Eyck Street.
Storefront Ten Eyck premiered during Bushwick Open Studios with two fascinating exhibitions: “Epic Fail,” a group show curated by Erik Benson and Frank Webster, and a solo exhibition of digital artist Shamus Clisset. Several of the works on display, such as a monumental fluorescent light-sculpture by Alejandro Almanza Pereda, revealed the advantages of the cavernous new space.
“I have my own taste, but I’ve been constrained a lot by the Storefront Bushwick space,” Brown confessed, “which means I can’t really show anything large. I think we’ll do some unusual things here.”
The new digs allow for two open exhibition spaces, an airy back room for entertainment, and a full bathroom containing a sculpture and photograph by highbrow/brilliant artist Adam Parker Smith. It also serves as a studio for Brown’s own work.
Ever since Brown first moved her studio to Bushwick in 2006, she’s been using the neighborhood’s abandoned buildings and desolate streets as inspiration. “I came out here and thought, ‘Wow this is a really interesting landscape,’” she told Bedford + Bowery. “It’s kind of the tail end of the industrial age being played out against a background of different communities moving into these neighborhoods. It became obvious that there was a lot of change both on the level of economics and demographics and I found that reflected in the landscape. I thought it was a beautiful elegiac scene.”
Brown’s new studio is dotted by smaller, near-portrait paintings of spherical heads (“têtes”) that resemble Buckminster Fuller architecture; twisted, structural paintings inspired by the cranes and amusement park rides that were distorted by Hurricane Sandy; and large landscape paintings influenced by Bushwick’s slag heaps and scrap yards.
While Brown prepares to transition to Storefront Ten Eyck in the Fall, she continues to mount shows in her original space (a group exhibition, “Phaedo,” opened late last month and continues through July 28). Watch our video to learn more about Storefront Bushwick’s humble beginnings.
Video by Elan Bird.