The waning days of winter have a peculiar effect on the restless art stragglers who just manage to flee the stuffiness of their lofts for the kick off of open studio season. Like a support group in the bitter cold, eye spy what joe and jane have been up to cooped up during this desolate Bushwick winter.
The Bushwick open studios started with a lonesome untapped cities tweet –
“Is this controversial art exhibit by@FuchsProjectstoo much too soon after the murder of a Hasidic landlord?”
And so the attendees launch themselves into a morbid orbit of grizzly wax, bits of bone, uncanny juxtapositions, oil paintings on strips of cardboard whose chemicals will eventually rot them off the walls. They congregate on what looks to be the porch from a particularly depressing Faulkner novel and mill about cartoonsie interpretations of the Nagasaki bombing.
And yet, from a whittled thumb and east asian motif carpets etched in warped plywood to a set of colorful splashes even among the most morbid shapes, subtle juxtapositions do launch much needed relevance and yearning into an arts dialog largely catering to collectors and the overtly ambitious. This assembly encountered in the February dark calls attention to the tacked-on existence underpinning these rickety installations. A bit of self-conscious morbidity can’t hurt when the week saw attempts to resuscitate a notion of blackness from the tragically hip put-to-Bed-Stuy. Naturally for that discussion everyone came out swinging, including the landed gentri-(purely as prefix, we understand), slinging their Brooklyn growing up stories – “when I used to run around the way…” until some nasties found a way to end it with spray paint.
The Bed Stuy – Bushwick metroplex area is fast becoming the bike mecca for gallery hopping doted on by roving scenes of loose artist collectives. One crew kicking off the fourteen with a massive set of interventions is Brooklyn Wild. The place they selected to inflict their damage is a spot called The Bishop, like the chess piece. The spot straddles an area of Bed Stuy sporting roving Hasidics in immense furry hats in winter and massive homebrew sound systems dotting the blocks in summer.
The Bishop, firmly on the black side of the checkerboard, not waiting to do a move though, is run by a crew up from DC. Formerly Pratt affiliated, the space now does gentle recounting in supreme artistic effort, an approach heralding from the DC African American fine arts, especially print making, still very much non-described, non-researched as already supplanted by more rootless, more etsy manifestations.
Somehow I got myself in the 12 day group show on Brooklyn with a piece I’d been meaning to get back to the party from which it sprang. On the New Year for twelve, as it happened, I was chasing some tail at off-the-hook Rubulad three spaces party. I bumped into an acquaintance at the first spot who had been comped a wristband. We ripped the band in half while on the party bus and stuck it on our wrists with spittle.
Once in, I roved the second spot, like I was promoting, making snaps, but when I got back to the door knew it would be sketchy trying to go in and out with the half band spittle stuck to my wrist. In my moment of hesitancy I started to notice all the people trying to show the bouncer with their raised wrists that they were legit.
I started to photograph that moment tween out and in as there was a never-ending stream of people. Nine of these photographs is what I wheeled to The Bishop in the guise of Comped in Brooklyn.
Arrived a bit fashionably but didn’t feel too much out of place as this seemed more legit than the university connected pop ups dotting much of the calendar in Brooklyn now, where art is but a temporary deviance on the road to either ruin of hard drugs or the blissful arrival at settled down feeling with the two kid garage, alleviating anxiety with the, still in some sense, American dream. Above all, those spots though are placeholders for the next next wave of realtor speculation making the seeming choice above profitable.
The last spot available was on a windowsill, so once I balanced the blocks I caught sight of the piece next door where a few photographs framed and hung kept close watch on a bunch more strewn on the floor just in front.
This installation was by Alan Rules, and the photos were all covered in grime and looked like they were of the tragic destruction from Hurricane Sandy – if it weren’t for boobies in all the shots.
I asked the chicken egg question on how the Sandy grime had gotten on the photos clearly shot in the devastation and Mr. Rules showed me on his phone how he had ruined a box truck to get that flood line on each photo post-disaster. Next door Jonnie Flatbush whipped out a glue gun to add a final spectacle to his cartoon inspired masks. A light heart reprieve to the Sandy devastation on either side of his.
Mr. BK Wild curating the assemblage is of course renaissance man Chris Carr. Someone to watch as he brings massive outlays of fun to events simply to post rent.
There are few that can bootstrap art these days outside of institutional bubble. Mr. Carr can and does, showing a massive print with dozens of photos from gatherings genuinely off-the-hook. The art he assembled by simply being openly inclusive accurately linked the semblance of Brooklyn being the diverse nexus, pined for around the world, in what remains this.