Contributed by Katie Fuller / Last weekend, Bushwick Open Studios did not disappoint. The mood was uplifting and the studios were full of artistic spirit. I found myself drawn to works with an unequivocal freedom of gesture, and to those that carefully balanced adolescent verve with more seasoned cynicism. I also noticed many artists creating illusionary surfaces with unconventional materials, while maintaining a disciplined awareness of the basic two-dimensional surface.
In Sebastian Vallejo’s paintings, I found the gloves and other painting residue to be humorously similar. The contrast between the bold splotches of color and the printed fabric made the paint appear to jump out at you, creating a feeling of rushing movement.
How and why artists make consciously portable work is telling. While it felt less serious than painting, Zach Seeger’s photo and illustration zine was an useful accompaniment to the paintings, helping me to understand their context.
I spoke with Hunter Reynolds about his work in bringing the ‘80s and ‘90s club culture into the gallery, and found the photographs of him applying drag queen makeup breathtaking as well as informative.
The way Lara Nasser’s objects, paintings, and illustrations communicated with one another in her studio – effectively creating their own aesthetic context – was compelling.
Then, of course, there were group shows organized by artists who employed a theme to animate and lend cohesion to their work. Kelsey Shwetz said her paintings created a world in which a female character was moving throughout, while encountering and consuming a lot of food (for instance, the mac-and-cheese in the lower left corner of one painting). Makes sense – motion requires fuel. I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere she created with her use of fluorescent colors along with the moodier hues. The role of the curator as explicator can’t be forgotten: Kelsey and Ahna Serendren’s pieces, for instance, worked well together, each enriching the other.
Artists I encountered also riffed on one’s ever-important process. Judi Keeshan noted that she sometimes started with collage to trigger her painting process. From my standpoint, the tension between the loose and somewhat childlike collage materials and the more formal arrangement of shapes reflects both dynamism and resolution – that is, an entire process – to very successful effect.
Finally, Nell Waters Berneggers’s cleverly expansive embrace of studio architecture really caught my eye. All in all, I had a fantastic day exploring so many artists’ studios in Brooklyn.
About the author: Katie Fuller is a senior in the Fine Arts BFA Program at Parsons, The New School. Her concentration is Painting.
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