The first weekend of October was perfect for the return of Greenpoint Open Studios after a three year long break—a quintessential autumn weekend, the air was brisk, but the sun was shining. Between viewing studios backdropped by warehouse windows with breathtaking views of the changing season, walking outdoors was an appealing break to enjoy the crisp fall air blowing from the East River.
My thrill in life is seeing art, and when it comes to gallery scenes, Greenpoint may not be on tip of the tongue. When I say “Greenpoint” one may say After I brunch at Five Leaves I stop for donuts at Peter Pans before shopping at In God We Trust off Franklin Ave…… and something about Polish pierogi. So where’s the art? Movies in McCarren Park, piano karaoke at Manhattan Inn, or drinking at Matchless (remember Hannah’s birthday party in that one episode of Girls?), nightlife in Greenpoint is a bit hum when it comes to galleries.
This is not to say Greenpoint does not represent an artistic crowd—quite the opposite. While it is not the art neighborhood du jour, our northern neighbor is flush with artist studios and several established and up-and-coming galleries. GOS gives art-loving Greenpointers the chance to wear their neighborhood pride on their sleeves as hundreds of these artists willfully open their studios to the public.
I hit a few large studio buildings during my GOS weekend—67 West and the Pencil Factory along the warehouse clad waterfront, and the Leviton Buildings on Greenpoint Ave. at Provost St. If you missed these buildings—or woefully missed GOS completely—relive the art through my photo-blog.
Underwood’s illuminated photographs are mounted on light-boxes giving his subjects an uncanny glow reminiscent to the exhibition practices of Jeff Wall’s staged photographs in the 1990s. Electronic American flags glowing in the dark, and Fourth of July fireworks and festivities brightening a blackened sky, Underwood adds an additional layer of sublime illumination to the simple spectacles of everyday life.
I loved how Shringapure’s studio echoed the warped forms and textured surfaces of his abstract paintings. Constructed from multiple pieces brought together to create a single image, his piecemeal abstract paintings mimic the organic colors and curves of natural worlds.
I studied semiotics in graduate school and will never forget reading Ferdinand de Saussure, arguing the arbitrariness of the language system. A letter alone is simply a form with an annunciation attached, awaiting its pairing to become an everyday utterance. Always a fan of Ed Ruscha’s satirical prose paintings, Campbell similarly reminded me of a semiotician parodying the letter as a form patiently awaiting its function.
Another connoisseur of language, Bartell’s drawings put the power back into the written word. As a writer pencils are the bane of my existence (who wants that graphite smudge on the outside of your hand?), but seeing Bartell’s charcoal drawings is refreshing in our mixed-media world. His absurd statements recall one of my personal favorites Richard Prince’s “Joke” series, parodying the arbitrariness of language into a game of words.
The neon colors Schenck used in his painting for the group show “Life of the Party” really opposed the organic beauty of the plants in the room. I was so drawn to the brilliant light streaming through the floor to ceiling windows in this East River warehouse, and seeing Manhattan while working must be an inspiration in itself.
Savci’s oil paintings brought me back to lazy summer days with that special someone in my life. A mixture of Joan Semmel’s portraiture with Jeff Koon’s love of popular culture, Savci’s foreshortened perspectives place the viewer as the active placeholder in these intimate scenes.
As Savci’s studio mate, walking into their narrow corridor the artists share was a venture in contemporary figurative painting. LaMothe’s intimate canvases draw viewers in to examine his complex use of texture and abstract shapes to create captivating portraits.
Adas’s seascape grid was like viewing a Turner painting—but in cinematic scenes. I read the paintings like reading a novel, left to right, and the static scenes became a montage of the changing ocean views.
Klestel’s illustrations spoke to my 90s heart. His gestural color and aggressive pen work reminded me of my favorite cartoons and comics growing up. He brought me back to Saturday mornings sitting in front of the television binge watching Nikelodeon, and any day I get to relive my worry free days of yesterday is the kind of art I want to have on my walls reminding me what is important in life.
Sun’s studio exuded a relaxing sentiment I find inspirational to productivity. Her ethereal floral and landscape paintings of bamboo and cherry blossoms were illuminated by the autumn sunshine pouring through her studio windows. As a group of women drank tea in front of a large gallery wall filled with small-scale paintings, I wanted to drop my camera then and there to pick up a paint brush and give my artistry one willful chance.
Norton’s work is a dedication to scale. The large painting that sits behind the artist overwhelms by the brilliant cerulean red foreground only to further entice the viewer by a thin sheer sheet cut in the center which opens up to a scenic landscape background. The majority of her work on view were intimate series of abstract works that combine color, line and form to create surreal landscapes.
My photographs do not give Chisholm justice for her meticulous style. Her ritualistic works reminded me of the asceticism of Hannah Darbovin’s line drawings, but with a collage twist. Each piece is comprised of multiple canvases, and then created from a grid of simple shapes formed from collage cut-outs of numbers and letters. The flattening effect of the oversized abstract forms of neon pink and blue overtop the collage creates a playful break from ones obsessive read of the material.
Tabibian’s digital prints combine bold forms of color with hard-edged lines. Combining the organic with the grid is a contemporary way to ease traditional painting into the 21st century digital arts.
Seeing the artistic process is what makes open studios so fascinating. Unveiling the multiple steps of a finished project is at times easy to understand, but for some artists that journey takes on multiple mediums. Seeing Roy’s large-scale sketches next to oil-paintings, and then to see photography of his finished work on the computer was a great staging of this artist’s multi-media process.
Pierce’s series of golden figurative drawings captured my intrigue. Built from layers of gilded gold reflective paper, faces form from repetitious white staccato lines. The drawings are reflective, so you can stare into yourself as the haunting silhouette stares back at you, adding an exciting layer of participation to the work.
Visiting an Open Studio is almost as personal as an open invitation to someone’s bedroom. Home to her hyper-real figurative drawings, Maletz’s airy studio had oversized windows overlooking the city and a quiet nook with a gallery wall of her drawings creating a welcoming space with a domestic feel.
Rattiner’s characteristic works were large-scale paintings filled with aggressive brushwork overwhelmed by a contrasting color palette of blacks, whites and reds for accents. This delicate photo-series on the floor caught my eye for its delicate quality and dreamy subject matter. Most likely nature-scenes, the subjects are abstracted in such a way to examine the quaint contemplation of form and color.