Painting IRL: 2013 Bushwick Open Studios

Yesterday I spent the afternoon rambling around Bushwick Open Studios, visiting artists who have been featured in the blog over the past few years, checking out new work, and catching up with friends and readers. After spending the previous day at Real Art Ways in a darkened theater with  Denise Markonish (Curator at MASS MoCA) and Carl E. Hazlewood (Curator, Writer, Artist and co-founder of Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art, in Newark, NJ) selecting work for the 2013 Step Up series, it was a pleasure to see so much work IRL.

Image above: Painting by Corydon Cowansage, @ Harbor, 1717 Troutman Street

As the other jurors and I looked at the projected images and hundreds of videos at RAW, I realized what an advantage video and installation images had over images of paintings insofar as they told a story and through motion actively commanded more immediate attention. Images of paintings, tightly cropped and divorced from context, are static and lack the essential tactility of the objects themselves. In a gallery setting, paintings control the space. But in a darkened theater, narrative video, images of installations, and performance documentation tend to dominate. After some heated discussions, I think we selected a pretty good roster for the series, but painting was a hard sell.

Back in the bricks and mortar of Bushwick yesterday, I don’t think I looked at a single video piece. Here are some snaps from my afternoon stroll.

I started my afternoon with a mimosa at Norte Maar where “Portraits of Fern,” a group show of artwork about Fern, the gallery dog, was on display. Image above: Jocelyn Jabaut’s painting of Fern.

Barbara Lubliner, Fern Time in a Bottle.

Enrico Gomez in his studio behind Parallel Art Space, 1717 Troutman.

In the Parallel Art Space gallery, Julie Torres organized “What I Like About You,” a big group show in which 19 out-of-town artists selected work by 19 local artists. If you are in Bushwick today, stop by. Lots of good small-scale abstraction.

Sharon Butler, Agnes Martin, and Julia Schwartz, Dummkopf @ Parallel Art Space

Julia invited me to participate in the show. “I find Sharon Butler’s deconstructed paintings to be energizing and inspiring,” she wrote about her choice. “The juxtaposition of raw-the rough edges of unraveling canvas- and finished-areas of pure color and straight edges- was a lightening bolt to my messy painting way of being.”

Peter Shear selected Katherine Bradford @ Parallel Art Space

“As a painter I find Katherine Bradford’s restlessness admirable– one can take a walk around these works and be thrown at intervals back into a state of recalculation,” Shear wrote about his choice.

Brian Cypher selected Michael Voss @ Parallel Art Space

To read all the arists’ statements and see more work by each artist in “What I Like about You,”, visit Curating Contemporary, an interesting online project created by Arkansas artist Brian Edmonds where artists curate exhibitions.  

Meg Atkinson is working on quirky mid-scale geometric abstractions @ 1717 Troutman

Regina Rex, 1717 Troutman, presented gooey, funny paintings that Mathieu Lefevre made before he was killed in a tragic bike accident last year.

Eve Lateiner works with fabric, clothing, stretcher bars, dye, and staples @ 1717 Troutman

Ginny Casey‘s dreamlike paintings of the world around her use flat toned-down color and brushy short strokes @ 1717 Troutman

Ginny with the team from Fjord, an artist-run space in Philadelphia that just celebrated its one-year anniversary.

Erik den Breejen, the guy who paints images of musicians using lyrics from their songs, presented three small studies on canvas along with some larger work @ St Nicholas Studios.
 David McBride’s  elegant, paintings with gem-like surfaces mimick the commercial printing process by layering red, blue, and brown glazes to build up the rich, glossy color. Some have images of plants, flags, and other recognizable forms, others, like the one propped on a shelf pictured above, are more abstract. @ 1182 Flushing Avenue.


  1. Great work this year, exciting to see so much good painting happening.

  2. How common is it for an artist-run gallery like Fjord to operate?

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