Before natural wine shops made their home in Ridgewood, groups of college-educated visual artists and sculptors had staked their claim to less expensive apartments further along the L line. This coming weekend, a hundred or so of them will present work that celebrates just that, among other accomplishments, in the debut run of Ridgewood Open Studios.
Inspiration comes, logically, from Bushwick Open Studios, a longer-running and, as such, more-organized event run by groups who aspire to make coffee table books one year and work “hard on breaking the hierarchy between art and the community” the next. The vibe of the Ridgewood version is that Ridgewood remains more chill, relaxed, just-come-around-and-let-me-show-you-what-I’ve-been-working-on, that’s it.
Many of the artists are painters spitting sunny abstractions of misremembered youth, photographers delicately pouring resin over inkjet prints and sculptors arguing in woodwork. For a weekend, they will crawl out of their studios, often located in the spare rooms of their rented homes, and try to make a sale or attract more Instagram followers.
“It’s time Ridgewood had its own thing,” Nao Matsumoto tells Bushwick Daily.
Matsumoto is a sculptor who moved to Ridgewood with his wife, an artist named Lori Kirkbride, in 2013 and they now run a gallery called Lorimoto on Hancock Street.
It took years of talking and reflected grumblings about the lack of foot traffic from Bushwick Open Studios before Matsumoto began taking submissions and registering names. Now, group shows are planned at the “concept store” Feels; a place that was once a DIY space for the LGBTQIA+ community called Spectrum and/or Dreamhouse; and the Supermoon art space on Onderdonk Avenue.
Lorimoto will mark the tour’s kick off spot, with a group show called, “Kick Off” that begins Friday night. Matsumoto speaks of the show in welcoming terms, a place to set up a conversation between weekend painters and more established faces — like Frank Webster, who had a solo show at the Bespoke Gallery more than a decade ago and Caetlynn Booth, a sunny oilist who shared a bill at ARTspace back in May. Proceeds from the show will go to the artists and Ridgewood Open Studios expenses.
Also for sale at Lorimoto is a new cloth-bound title by the Danish fashion photographer Torkil Gudnason called “Ridgewood,” a collection of work the glossy magazine regular did at his studio in the neighborhood.
Matsumoto, who was repped by the Hpgrp gallery in Tribeca before it closed doors, says he’s over the Manhattan scene.
“Being represented is kind of lame,” he says. “I don’t think it’s about that anymore.”
Things have changed — this might as well be the collective word on the street among participants. The low-budget artist class comes and, then, suddenly everybody else does too. Condos are built, and “baby jazz” classes are offered at the newly-built trendy home and gift shop.
“When we moved here it was pretty dismal, it was like we had artists but we didn’t have an art crowd,” Matsumoto says, sitting in his cluttered studio between two yellow motorcycles and tall plaster casts sit by the sink. “What came from Morgan Avenue to Jefferson Avenue, is now landing on Halsey,” he says.
Artist Tim Gowan shares this perspective. He says there were no artists here when he first moved to the neighborhood in 1999. Gowan is an abstract expressionist raised in Queens and, in his own words a “very mellow, low-level guy.”
This past weekend he took a group of about six artists down Woodward Avenue, all of whom plan to show their work as part of the Woodward Outdoor Art Walk this Saturday, from 12 to 6 p.m.
A number of art studios have begun to populate Woodward, just past Topos. Artist Mark Miller makes comic dioramas that, on Instagram, he calls “Lidscapes” and writes captions for their imagined lives. He tells Bushwick Daily that he aspires to scatter them, scavenger-hunt style, in a number of these studios that will be open for the weekend.
Isabelle Schneider arrived in the neighborhood around a decade ago, when some of the first galleries of the current wave began. Her work, which lately comes in the form of altered photographic prints, sculpts shattered landscapes out of the erie and recognizable. (One series is called “Bushwick Litter.”)
Like the neighborhood itself, Schneider’s work suggests a vividly imagined world, constantly on the verge of crowding out the city and its once relatively inexpensive rentals.
It’s Matsumoto who puts it best, with a kind of frank grimness that looks to the future with a note of self-awareness too weary for apologies. “Everybody is being pushed out of Bushwick and they’re being pushed into Ridgewood. Who knows where they will go next?”
Cover Photo from Erik Kantar for Bushwick Daily | Article Flyers From Event Website
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