A warm rainbow of colors–red, yellow, orange, beige, white–vibrate around Til Will and I as we sit in the studio of Colleen RJC Bratton in Seattle, Washington. Sculptural paintings hang on the walls, composed of paint, wood, fabric, thread. Important details of the space inform us that Bratton’s studio is an installation in itself. In addition to the works hanging on the walls, ceiling tiles are replaced with colorful swatches, a large storage cabinet echoes the warm color palette, and little notes and swatches of colored fabric balance in curious places around the room. The backs of a few of the works are brightly painted, allowing a glow to extend onto the wall behind them, further blending the structures themselves into the studio space. Continue reading “Colleen RJC Bratton: The Public Rainbow”→
Open House is pleased to present FILTERGEIST. This group show marks the debut exhibition at our new location in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In conjunction with Bushwick Open Studios, FILTERGEIST opens on Friday, September 22 from 7-11pm and continues through October 31.
“A screen, a bench, a table, a mirror, a vessel, a key, a flower,” artist and curator Michael Childress writes in his intriguingly abstractpress release for “The Small Exceeds,” a thoughtfully sparse exhibit that took place at the appropriately minimal Chinatown hole-in-the-wall, New Release Gallery. These ambiguous motifs are traced throughout the show, compelling expanded consideration. Childress’ immersive installation rejects spectacle, thereby inviting a more careful observation, a refreshing break from a typical in-and-out exhibit. The title, “The Small Exceeds,” is drawn from Hexagram 62 of the I Ching, which commends a “preponderance of the small” and a consideration for detail in the pursuit of mindfulness. Childress along with the eight other artists in the exhibition present work that encourages shared meditation.
Images that seem to be evoking specific narratives cover the walls of Kcirred Reswob’s studio as I sit across from him discussing his work. Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, a cow behind a fence, Seaworld, a littered landscape, among others. On the table, next to one of his cats, is a stack of sketchbooks. As Reswob describes growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania listening to Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, and the other conservative classics, I begin to understand the genesis for much of the narrative I am seeing.
Through his explorations of the coyote, borders, humans, animals and their environments, discrete or cartoonish narratives appear that seem to also reflect a deeper socio-political sensibility. The result is a world that can at times seem both comically mundane and deeply prophetic. The common image of a barbed wire fence begins to seem like something I’ve never really looked at before. As Reswob and I discuss the coyote and his research into the attempted removal of it from parts of the midwestern United States, I begin to wonder why I, like countless other children, took pleasure in watching the many creative deaths of the immortal Wile E. A simple act of looking, or re-looking at what we already know is there, transports Reswob’s narratives into symbols of humanity, that are both fascinating and disturbing. Continue reading “Kcirred Reswob: The Immortal Wile E.”→
Taxidermy, once limited to the realms of hunting and seedy antique stores, has made its way into common art practices. The ethical gray area of cutting open and displaying a dead animal is equally foggy when used for artistic or symbolic purposes, like in the eerily flashy work of Damien Hirst or more recently Anicka Yi’s hardware-lined taxidermy coyote. Contemporary artists using taxidermy as a critique of modern society can be easily construed as insensitive, and can just as easily reinforce the sensationalist culture they’re trying to condemn. New York City based emerging artist Selva Aparicio employed taxidermy with sensitivity and subtlety to honor dead animals and criticize our society’s disregard for them during her one-night pop-up show, curated by Ara Cho, at Space 776.
Led down an industrial alley in South Slope, BK, in the noisy shadow of the Gowanus Expressway, we found ourselves at the door to Nick Schutzenhofer‘s studio. Sickeningly sweet air wafted down the hall from the neighboring Shaheen candy distribution. We were surprised to discover the most immense painting practice we have seen in NY to date, and a distinctive surface quality developed using the ancient medium of egg tempera.
Held at the McCarren Park Pool, the first Brooklyn Art Book Fair, co-produced by Bruce High Quality Foundation University and Endless Editions, kept to the DIY roots of its featured zine-makers and independent publishing companies. Fair attendees moved past gym-goers and community center regulars into the shallow shoebox of a gymnasium lined with colorful booths. The squeaky-floored gym, hand-written name tags, and visibly excited participants evoked pleasant memories of the annual grade school Scholastic Book Fair. The rejection of a typical or “expected” venue resulted in a refreshing focus on the artists and publishers rather than the event itself.
Sitting on the wooden gallery floor with co-curators Julia Freeman and Satpreet Kahlon, Freeman explains about the first time the US tried to probe another celestial body, “They projected these radio waves, and so they went past the ionosphere and bounced off the moon, Diana, and then they came back”. Freeman is the founder of the art space Project Diana in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. We are occasionally interrupted by the sound of planes departing Boeing field as she explains that her intention was to create a space that reflected the same unknowing and unexpected return when artists push the boundaries of their normal practice.
Last week Open House did a 2-for-one double studio visit, with two artists who live and work in the same space, and also happen to be best friends. Ara Cho and Shavana Smiley invited us into their living room studio space, where we were greeted with large oil paintings that felt wispy and bright, yet at times charged and violent. These were the works of Ara Cho, featuring gestural flowers and airy figures inside domestic spaces. Loose hands sprung out of body parts and stood like trees in forests. We caught glimpses of Shavana Smiley’s galactic works during the studio visit (stay tuned for Part II).