Bushwick Art Scene Die Hard Christopher Stout Talks His Solo Show & Bushwick Open Studios

A.O., Christopher Stout

The Bushwick art world is flush with spring fever. With all the cool things happening (and even more on the way), deciding what to see can be harder than drunkenly splitting a brunch check.

To help you prioritize, we caught up with the man at the center of the madness – Christopher Stout, Founder of Bushwick Art Crit Group (BACG).

From his upcoming solo show titled A.O. (opening this Friday at ArtHelix, 6-9 pm), to the new project space at BACG, Christopher has a lot going on these days. He was kind enough to fill us in on his latest projects and offer some hot tips on what to see during Bushwick Open Studios.

Christopher Stout (photo courtesy of the artist)


Bushwick Daily: What can you tell us about your upcoming solo exhibit, A.O.? What inspired this series of work and what kind of experience are you hoping to create with it?

Christopher Stout: Hooray for art solos! I could write about the work, or you could watch artist Eric Gottshall and me chat about the upcoming A.O. exhibition at ArtHelix in the latest episode of BACG Artist Film Library. Check it out!


BD: How would you describe your mindset leading up to a solo exhibit compared to a group show? What would a successful opening be like for you? 

CS: Oh wow, solos are a fundamentally different animal than group exhibitions for the artist. In a group show, the curator governs the philosophy of the exhibition statement, and then presents the work that ultimately guides his or her point of view. In a solo, the artist is responsible for the exhibition philosophy, and it is the duty of the artist to perfectly articulate a singular concept through the power of his or her work.

As far as opening night, I’m working towards the same goals that every artist strives for at an opening. I’d love for the gallery to be filled with a crush of the art world, and I’d also love for people to take the time to look at and understand the work.

BD: You’ve stated that prior to creating A.O., you were beginning to feel a bit burnt out creatively. How do you manage to relax and recharge during the madness of spring exhibition season?

CS: I’ve heard from many New Yorkers that being burnt out is the result of exhaustion and the cure is rest and relaxation. I’m deathly allergic to both of those things, so my personal remedy for feeling burnt out in my studio is to keep throwing myself up against the wall until I love the work again. It’s an acquired taste for problem solving.

In all seriousness I am an avid workaholic, but when I started really struggling with my studio work, I just kept trying new things until it made sense again. It was really painful to fail so many times but it’s the only way I know how to ultimately succeed in your art.


BD: What can you tell us about the new BACG project space? What inspired you to open a new space and when will it be ready for the public?

CS: Technically, I’m still in the lock-up period where I’m not allowed to announce a lot of the specifics about the space. (We are working with financial and other gallery partners for this project.) There will be a press release going out around BOS weekend.

I can happily share that BACG Project Space will debut in early October with the work of Phoenix Lindsey-Hall. We’ve got future art projects in development with artists Eric Gottshall, Linda Griggs, J. Morrison, Vincent Tiley, and Kelsey Shwetz.

BD: You’ve said that the new BACG Project Space will focus its program on art that is more difficult and subversive. What type of dialogue are you hoping to create? What makes Bushwick the right time and place to have this conversation?

CS: Our inspiration for opening this space is that we’re looking to fill what we perceive is a specific visual and philosophical gap that wouldn’t be sustainable in most emerging-art focused spaces.

Structuring an art space program around subversive work is a tricky thing for sales, and we’ll partially rely on a funding partner and the engine of our nonprofit relationship with Fractured Atlas. My somewhat niche joke to our BACG team is that I want BACG Project Space to be the Yvon Lambert of Bushwick. (YL is a formerly Paris-based Chelsea gallery that represents Andres Serrano and exhibited both Piss Christ and the Shit show in New York.)


BD: How are you preparing for BOS? What can we look forward to seeing from you?

CS: It’s almost hard to fathom that this will be my (gasp) FIFTH year opening my studio at Brooklyn Fire Proof for BOS festival weekend!

Last year I let Bushwick Art Crit Group take over my studio and do a BIG group show we appropriately called BACG Pop-UP. It was a lot of fun; however I felt the need this year to do something more traditional. I mean, artist open studios only happen once a year!

For 2015 BOS I’ve invited two dear painter friends, Scott Robinson and Meredith Hoffheins, to show new paintings with me in a presentation we’ve titled, Land Ausländer (which roughly translates to “foreign country” or “land alien”), because the three of us each incorporate abstract forms into a physical or imagined environment in our work. Meredith gets credit for the title and concept. I’m going to debut some new paintings, which could be described as dome-like black painted plaster mounds on raw linen. This works seems like a visual way to follow the A.O. pieces, and yet visually they are quite different.

BD: What are you most looking forward to?

CS: I’m looking forward to the magic of Bushwick Open Studios and here are some things I’m specifically excited to see this year:

There’s a delicious rumor that artists Brian Whiteley and Andrew Cornell Robinson are working together on an outdoor collaborative performance this BOS. If true, this would be NOTHING less than seismic!

Esther Ruiz moved buildings and now shares studio space at 41 Varick Ave 202 with Will Hutnick, Polly Shindler, and JF Lynch. Mark this on your list. While you’re at 41 Varick, please also go upstairs and visit the space of Stephen Zerbe and B. Thom Stevenson.

 BACG is working on a group show called NATIVE SUM with our artist and curator friend Ryan Morris, which will be shown on the ground floor of Brooklyn Fire Proof. Here is a fun teaser video about his project produced by Ryan that communicates the vibe of his show:

BD: Is there anything you’ve seen recently that you found particularly inspiring?

CS: Surround Audience: the 2015 Triennial at the New Museum is the thing that jumps most readily to mind. All hail Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin!

I’m also inspired daily by random moments in Bushwick, like walking with coffee and looking at our street art. We truly live in a magical place and time.

Christopher Stout, A.O., Art Helix, 299 Meserole St, East Williamsburg, April 24 – May 10, 2015, opening reception 6-9pm on May 1, 2015.

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