By Terri Ciccone
There’s something brewing inside Big Snow Buffalo Lodge, a new Bushwick music venue that caught my attention, and it wasn’t a band.
Instead of filling the place with the usual music venue decor – posters, stickers and some graffiti – the owners decided to make the walls into a sort of living, breathing art project that’s continuously developing.
Maybe “living” and “breathing” were poor choices of words considering the subject matter…. On a wall in the space is a lone skeleton, standing from floor to ceiling, frozen in time as he somberly plays his guitar. His large hat hints to us that he was once a member of a mariachi band, now playing tunes from the grave. His bony fingers grip the guitar at sharp angles, yet he appears to be effortlessly stroking the strings. His bright white cartilage contrasts with the deep warm color behind him, the color of algae resting on a serene lake under a deep blue night sky. His whittled tree bark-like guitar perhaps carved from a piece of drift wood.
The piece called Dia De Los Muertos Mariachi is inspired by a combination of Mexico’s Day of the Dead and mariachi music, a theme Bushwick based artist and musician, Jeremey Aquilino has been drawn to and working with for quite some time. He often creates different groupings of skeletal mariachi men using his characters and sometimes bases them on real bands. That leaves me wondering which musicians inspired which?
“Last year I was living over in northern Bushwick close to Ridgewood, and my neighbors would always play Spanish music, and loud (he makes a bass reggae tone noise). It would just be everywhere, and I started painting this stuff last year in that apartment,” Jeremy said with a tone of possibly coming to a realization. “So it could have been influenced by that.”
What’s also cool about the piece is there is a the possibility to add more characters, so that the lone skeleton can maybe one day form his own band. This piece, along with additional paintings in the basement of neon aliens in a geometric patterned planet, are all evolving. The artists at Big Snow seem to take pride in the fact that they never actually consider their work finished.
“It might stay as is or it might change over the next few months,” Jeremy looking up at the skeleton with adoration and skepticism, “I like to look at all my artwork as unfinished. It leaves me the option of adding, who knows,” Jeremy said.
“I kind of like the constant art that’s been developing in this place,” Jeremy said, “like over there, that happened last night” he points to a drawing pasted up on a mirror, a scene of a grumpy old woman scowling at the venue that was drawn by someone working the door during a show at the venue the night before.
This music venue is charming; I imagine it didn’t set out to become an art space. But to me, with the well-crafted stylized paintings along with the cool transformative and collaborative working styles, it seems like a great creative environment where inspiration and artist collaboration kind of drips from the walls. That defines an art space, right? So if you’re going to check out your favorite band at Big Snow, look around, you might see something different each time.