In anticipation of the opening for the Witches of Bushwick residency at Stream Gallery, we stopped by the Bushwick mini-art front yesterday. We can’t say we didn’t look sort of ridiculous getting there right as the gate opened, but thankfully we were greeted not only by a singular, unopened bottle of red wine sitting by its lonesome on a pedestal but also by Christine Tran (co-founder of Witches of Bushwick along with Anne Alexander).
If you’re not familiar, Witches of Bushwick is a creative network of mostly women artists (not to be confused with the actual Bushwitches we know and love) living and working in the neighborhood. You’re probably familiar with their parties, their biannual magazine, The Coven, or maybe that unintentionally hilarious Times profile portraying Tran and Alexander as some seriously bossy hipster power-betches. In shorty, they’re cool — OK?
The Witches’ very existence is for-sure indication that Bushwick has reached peak hip in the New York City art world. But the Stream Gallery residency is actually something of a homecoming for the collective. “We were away in Jersey City at MANA Contemporary,” Tran explained. “It’s great to be back in Bushwick after we were just at this massive institutionalized space.”
MANA Contemporary claims 1.5 million square feet of space at its art center in Jersey City, a striking contrast to Stream Gallery which is not much bigger than a dumpling shop. The art institution is lending a slice of their enormous digs to the Witches and ESKFF for artists-in-residence of their pick over the next year. Seven artists were chosen for 2015, and six of them will be showing the work they’ve created in Jersey on a rotating basis at Stream Gallery throughout the month of April.
As I was making the rounds in the gallery (which took me all of fifteen seconds because did I mention my kitchen is bigger?) I was thinking about how strange this all was. This Jersey City-Bushwick exchange is pretty indicative of how far the neighborhood has come from being a place for artists to go who are seeking cheaper, larger spaces in which to make their art to the Bushwick of now, where space is every bit as expensive as anywhere in Manhattan. And the fact that the Witches scored a big deal residency at MANA in the first place speaks to Bushwick’s currency as well.
It’s not like Stream has turned into some super sparkly Chelsea affair, let’s be real. But the work on display is definitely worth a gander. Minka Sicklinger, who’s best known for her work as a tattoo artist at East Side Ink in the East Village is the first artists in residence to show her work– a few abstract paintings dominated by red, gold, and black. “Minka is my tattoo artist, actually,” Tran explained. “But it’s been really exciting to watch her work with large format acrylic painting.”
Though admittedly I was a little more intrigued when the curator clarified how these paintings were made. “She painted mostly with her feet,” Tran explained, pointing to the bulbous mixed-media sculpture hanging from the ceiling, made from materials found in the foot painting clean up pile and other stuff like hair.
Sicklinger’s work will be on display until April 5 only, but stay tuned for more art to come by the remaining Witches X ESKFF residents including work by local artists like Anne Vieux, a video installation by the wicked weird Monica Mirabile, a performance by the House of ia, and a film created by Mariem Bennani.
Check out the program for dates. Stream Gallery is located at 1196 Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick, the Witches of Bushwick Artist Residency Exhibition until April 26th.