What the hell is going on at 299 Meserole? Come find out tonight! (all photos by Katarina Hybenova for Bushwick Daily)

“What the hell is going on with 299 Meserole?” many people have been asking recently. The epic raw building off the Montrose L stop announced huge plans for Bushwick Open Studios, only to cancel/postpone most of them due to the rain water flooding. But since the front part of the building wasn’t damaged, VCU Sculpture still got to open a recent graduates show last week. And we loved it!

Different from we usually see in Bushwick, recently graduated sculptors from Richmond brought some really good work. The show featured Jon Bobby Benjamin, Ryan Crowley, Sacha Ingber, Jessica Kain, Carl Marin, Melanie McLain, Lior Modan, Jesse Potts, Leslie Rogers, Tom Simon, Rotem Tamir, and Alina Tenser whose work magically complemented the raw space of 299 Meserole, and the building showed itself in the best light despite its sad recent flooding.

Perhaps the most striking works were presented by Leslie Rogers and  Melanie McLain. Rogers created a performative otherworldly piece in which a half man, half hot air balloon figure interacts with a mystical figure approaching and pulling away. Graced by illumination, located in the dark main room of the building, Roger’s piece will likely hypnotize and draw you in.

Melanie McLain’s piece titled “Damp Gestures” created something truly epic. Another performative piece in the sculpture show, it is a complex structure – a massage salon for 2-3 people. After you enter its door, admire the projection above, you are prompted to take a seat, close your eyes, and enjoy a facial massage. The warmth and the sounds make it an almost womb-like experience.  I loved how this piece is so surprising and provocative. Human touches and bodily sensations that follow are something we usually don’t expect in a gallery…

Other exhibited works were very experiential and intelligent as well (Alina Tenser and Carl Marin, to name a couple).

Interesting is also the conversation that 299 Meserole director, Peter Hopkins is trying to create with art schools. “What do MFAs arriving to Bushwick think of it?” he asks and will probably also ask at the panel his gallery ArtHelix is hosting tonight at 7PM. Confronting Bushwick 2 will follow up on the discussion about Bushwick and its future as an arts mecca from early 2012. Panelists George Ferrandi (Wayfarers), Carlton Newton (VCU Sculpture), Savona Bailey (Independent Curator) and yours truly will discuss how to make Bushwick a space where art is being created and exhibited, while maintaining its unique character.

VCU Recent MFA Alumni @ 299 Meserole, 299 Meserole St., Brooklyn, May 24 – June 2, 2013, Thursday through Sunday 12-6PM.