Another Bushwick Open Studios has come and gone. In order to make sense of it all (though, let’s face it, there was no making sense of the above) we took some photos and talked to some artists whose work we dug. Click through our slideshow, below, to see this year’s highlights and lowlifes.
During past installments of BOS, self-proclaimed psychotherapist "Dr." Lisa Levy has performed theatrical psychiatry sessions. This time she dressed up as a grandma because, she said, “it takes all the sexiness away," giving people permission to sit not just on her couch but right on her lap. “What we all really want is unconditional love,” she said. “I like giving love.”
A number of grown men (and women, as you can see here) actually sat on her lap. It was awkward for some, until Granny told them to "just relax" and rocked them back and forth.
The Roberta's Art Party, in the parking lot of a Chinese noodle factory on Moore Street, consisted of outdoor bars, a skate ramp, an Oddfellows Ice Cream stand, and a tent with art on display..
There, Brooklyn resident Naomi Butterfield, a 23-year-old SVA student originally from Los Angeles, stood next to her four dark, intricate drawings while she put the finishing touches on a piece she had started earlier in the day.
Alex Sewell, a Massachusetts native who showed his pieces at 1717 Troutman Street, wanted to do “something the way a child would, but without deskilling the work.”
A stretch of Rock Street owned by Boar's Head once again became an outdoor sculpture garden curated by Bushwick artist-gallerist Deborah Brown and Lower East Side gallerist Lesley Heller.
As a Japanese-American, Red Hook-based sculptor and photographer Ward Yoshimoto draws his ideas from both cultures. "Tangibles," an installation made out of garden fencing, reflects his fascination with the nuclear bomb and World War II, and the influence of artists Calder and Noguchi. Asked what message he wants to convey, he said the “mystery of art, of making something simple.”
A bearded man in a sparkling leotard, a person donning an ape mask and pink dress, a partially naked man, and other surreal friends raised eyebrows with a performance art piece on the corner of Bogart and Grattan that continued throughout the day.
At one point, a man inside a cage shouted, “Freedom within limitations! There are limits to free speech!” The group broke into protest against free speech. “We don’t need it anymore!” another shouted. A little girl cried and asked her mother if they could go home, but most audience members laughed and some brave souls even got involved.
Jason Bard Yarmosky, who has a studio at 117 Grattan Street, has always been “interested in the inevitability of aging,” and the way youth culture is celebrated more than old age. The 27-year-old paints his grandparents in everything from children’s costumes to superhero costumes. He says “they love it” -- especially when people ask for autographs at his shows. Most importantly, it's been “beautiful for our relationship,” the artist said.
We stumbled on this piece by Davis McLane Connelly at 141 Thames Street. When Davis first moved to Brooklyn he found a bunch of discarded Tickle Me Elmos. He liked the fur, color, and “the way light played off the different textures,” he said. Meanwhile, he was obsessed with conspiracy theories about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, so he incorporated Kubrick’s use of bilateral symmetry into a piece that he said was “full of my own personal visual metaphors and symbolism.”
In Lawrence F Mesich's video installation “Inherent and Residual Risk,” the Queens artist juxtaposed two moments of crisis for Citigroup: the nearly catastrophic engineering fault with Citicorp Center in 1979 and the financial crisis of 2007.
Reverse painting on glass with airbrushed automotive paint gives Doug Young’s work an eerily photo-like quality. “Those specific ones have to do with repulsion,” he said of a series that included imagery of a death chamber and a dirty fridge. “You know, being in an uncomfortable spot and how you can be attracted to uncomfortable environments.” Young’s choice of medium allows for “illusions” – ones “that aren’t normally possible with paper or canvas,” he said.
We encountered Amanda Millet-Sorsa’s "A Game of Lovers," a 78-piece reinterpretation of a deck of tarot cards, at 23 Meadow Street, in a warehouse owned by Mona Liza Fine Furniture (the name of the exhibit curated by Art Helix Gallery was "Gioconda,” the Italian name for the Mona Lisa). The 28-year-old painter said of her initial fascination with tarot: “The images on the cards were just so strange. There were all these medieval figures, all representing these very universal symbols."
Millet-Sorsa is having her own deck printed up so that at future shows, people can play with her work in addition to seeing it behind glass. "I'm looking for places where the cards can be used, really interacting with people," she said.
Self-declared "underdog expressionist" David Henry Nobody, Jr. was tromping around in this get-up, claiming he was "The Shit." Don't worry, it's not what you think it is: he was promoting a show of his photos at Fine & Raw Chocolate.
This Willy Wonka-colored installation, "Thank You,” towered inside of the Black & White Gallery at The Bogart. Brooklyn artists Raul de Nieves and Erik Zajaceskowski collected the multi-hued plastics and garbage throughout the Bushwick area for the past two months.
De Nieves’ sculptural shoes were worn by Lady Gaga and he has performed at the Whitney, MoMA PS1 and other locations. Zajaceskowski has created various art spaces such as Mighty Robot, Secret Project Robot and Happyfun Hideaway. Together they’ve created visual art that speaks to our embarrassing consumerism legacy and makes you feel like you’re visiting a garish, haunting obstacle course.
Hater and BZEE, two members of a Brooklyn street artist collective known as NSF, were painting a building at the corner of White and McKibbin, as they do yearly around this time.
Bushwick business owners have become more accommodating to street art over the years, Hater noted: "More and more, the business owners are letting [artists] use the space, because they know it looks better than a bunch of tags." That said, a permission slip from the building’s owners is a must. "Cops will still roll by and ask you for it,” said Hater, “even though it's kind of obvious that we're not going anywhere quickly.”
In a warehouse at 56 Bogart Street, the artist Norton displayed examples of shadow-casting, a medium he's worked in for the past 10 years. He carves small notches into huge slabs of Plexiglas. "It takes 20 minutes to carve a two-square-inch area," he said. When light shines through, the shape of the final piece appears as a shadow on the wall behind it.
"I grew up in Japan, so there's a lot of the Japanese philosophy that you're going to make mistakes and then just use them," he said. "There is no perfect line. Everything's a mess-up, and it's perfect."
At The Vasquez Window Gallery at 13 Central Avenue, Jason Palmeri showed a painting of a smashed bubble-gum ice cream cone, inspired by the time he asked his mother to buy him a cone at Venice Beach pier in Los Angeles. “There is nothing sadder than a smashed ice cream cone melting on the pavement,” Palmeri told us.
These days, Palmeri works primarily at home in Brooklyn, painting exclusively on the floor by using splatter and scraping techniques that mirror the gritty vibe of the street.
H Dee Robertson's naturalistic canvases were also on display at "Naked Remnants (the remainder of things)," at the Vazquez Building. Robertson moved to Bushwick from Richmond, Virginia about five years ago. Her pieces -- using an eclectic mix of oil, pastel, wood varnish, and string -- explore nature's convergence with humanity, and she often emphasizes trees as the subjects of her work.
“Recently, I have been painting at the Evergreen Cemetery -- it’s a great place for silence and to see where nature meets civilization,” Robertson said.
This trippy work by Andrew Erdos is made from blown and cast glass, silver, a two-way mirror, and LEDs.
We were probably the 5,000th person to photograph Jerkface's SpongeHomer mural at the Bushwick Collective's block party.
Inside Sugarlift, London Kaye's crocheted Nikes were going for $200. These are a 10 1/2, but you can request a size and color.
Text and photos by Jordan Abosch, Samantha Gillette, Isabelle Lee, Kendall Levison, Daniel Maurer, Melissa Mittelman, Carolina Prado, Sam Raskin, Alexa Thompson