by Lucie Alig
“Fresh Paint from Bushwick”
150 W 25th Street
New York, NY 10001
August 11 – September 2, 2011
For over a year I’ve lived in what The New York Times once referred to as the “coolest place on the planet” – in an apartment nestled between a yarn store and a manufacturer of cast iron sinks located in the heart of Bushwick, Brooklyn. To reside in Bushwick is not
necessarily to understand its status as an arts mecca. Every day I hear sculptors at work, smell turpentine from the street and find canvases propped haphazardly against fences. But these are only hints, tiny confirmations, that the covert Bushwick art scene even exists. In order to grasp what has actually being created in my neighborhood, I trekked to the StandPipe Gallery in Chelsea.
Fresh Paint from Bushwick, a group painting exhibition curated by Deborah Brown, displaces Bushwick artists into the bright whiteness of a W. 25th Street gallery. StandPipe’s director, Alison Pierz, conceptualized the show six weeks before assembly and entrusted Brown, who is also the Director of STOREFRONT Gallery in Bushwick, to curate with rapidity.
StandPipe Gallery remains “painting-centric” and Fresh Paint from Bushwick upholds this focus while presenting eclecticism within it. Onions (2011) by Holly Coulis portrays a sharp and lucid still-life while sharing narrow wall space with a deductive, untitled abstraction by Rachel LaBine. The compactness of the gallery indeed provokes abrupt transitions, such as that seen in Kerry Law’s representational seascapes and Adam Simon’s vestigial forms.
Law’s two beach scenes titled Coney Island (2011) and Manhattan Beach (2011) are notably similar, distinguished mainly by an accentuated hue of purple seen along the horizon line. Viewing both pieces side-by-side lends a sense of expansive similitude, indicating, everywhere that isn’t here is the same. Simon’s stamp-layered paintings show a distinct, yet related, sense of sameness as stenciled silhouettes achieve both repetition and depth.
It is risky to emphasize the common characteristics in a show that is united solely by a neighborhood of origin. Reiteration and layers serve as motifs, in the works of several artists such as Halsey Hathaway. The use of translucence and abrasion hint at the tension between what is hidden and seen—the obvious and the veiled.
The volume of recent press about Bushwick suggests that local artists find their clothes in the trashcan while hanging their greatest works on vacant warehouse walls. They tend to live in small communities and find affordable sustenance at the taquerias seen along Wyckoff Avenue and beyond. There is no doubt that the area has its own distinct tone, and for now there is plenty to be gained from its remote location, when compared to the art scene in Manhattan. Fresh Paint from Bushwick marks the insertion of one distinct scene within the context of another, but it also illustrates the likelihood that Bushwick and Chelsea will collide more frequently in the future.
COMPLETE LIST OF ARTISTS: Gina Beavers, Holly Coulis, Halsey Hathaway, Rachel LaBine, Kerry Law, Adam Simon, Josette Urso