“I have been really interested in drawing dancers,” says artist and curator Aubrey Roemer under the dim light at Pumps, a strip bar on Grand St. “I kinda infiltrated the community, and that was only a step away from curating this show.” The mirrored walls of Pumps, self-proclaimed ‘last titty bar of Brooklyn,’ are covered with art that centers around “the salacious, the sexual and opulent feminity.” All the participating artists were asked to create a site-specific work to fit the nightlife decadence of Pumps.
I request a Heineken from Bianca who will later perform here. She tells me she bartends at Pumps but does a lot of burlesque. Bushwick artists are mingling with the dancers; the bar doesn’t open until 7PM, but the Facebook invitation said 6:30PM, so many art enthusiasts are already here. The owner of Pumps lets another early, artsy group in the bar.
“I knew that we wouldn’t have too much light here, so I told everyone to work with black light,” Aubrey explains the glittery, neon art. In a private cabin in the back, several neon pieces of art hang above seats that are covered with leopard fabric. A bold man who is sitting in the cabin sips his beer, and tells me that a private lap dance is $20. “That’s quite affordable,” I politely reply. “A special lap dance is $40. But in any case you can’t touch.”
The art featured in this once in a lifetime art show titled Pumped Up: Bacchamalia at Pumps is playful and overtly sexual – to the extend that it’s funny and almost feels innocent, as if you asked a child to draw something kinky. The artists were given the opportunity to tap into kitsch, glitter, neon, opulence and everything that one imagines comes with a strip club experience.
In Bushwick we see a lot of curious art in many atypical places but an art show in a strip club, and particularly one so well executed, was something special. Art, burlesque, beer, and the enjoyment of getting together…Artists and strippers met halfway, and found out that they have so much in common.
Pumped Up: A Bacchanalia at Pumps, June 23, 2013, 6:30-8:30PM at Pumps,1089 Grand St Brooklyn.