By Katarina Hybenova
“Brooklyn is so brown when compared to Manhattan,” says Andrea Bergart when leaning on the fence at a pier. Manhattan looks like a toy city; you could just reach and touch the plastic buildings. Brooklyn, on the other hand, looks like its humble brother. The wind is fierce; our hair is flying around; the seagulls shriek as they are flying around. There are strange places in New York, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal is certainly one of them.
Andrea lives in Ridgewood, but as an artist in residency at Chashama uses a subsidized studio in an enormous fortress of Brooklyn Army Terminal at Sunset Park. The building is partially occupied by Chashama artists; partially is empty; and according to rumors, it partially serves as a storage for governmental super-secret documents…
Andrea loves it there. She has been in her studio since last May, and she can’t wait for the summer. She says the closeness to the water makes her feel connected to nature. It is a bit ironic because the building itself is a huge concrete giant, and the neighboring vacated industrial buildings couldn’t be any less natural. But there is something serene and beautiful about the Brooklyn Army Terminal.
Andrea is a painter who has a great eye for colors and pattern. She has spent a lot of time in Western Africa painting murals and learning about textiles there. Her paintings are fresh and energetic; her vivid colors won’t let you idle. She uses a lot of imagery and techniques she remembers from her childhood – a pattern from an old coloring book; zebra and leopard patterns; she makes pearl bead necklaces and scratches patterns into acrylic paint over crayon drawings…. She is one of the artists in Mushroom Universe at Bushwick Gallery, and I had a couple of questions….
How do you select the materials you’re using? From pearl beads to friendship bracelets….
A lot of it is a return to my suburban upbringing – all the things I used to play with. I was always beading, braiding or weaving. Throughout my whole childhood, I was occupied with some kind of a craft. It seems natural to continue that. Additionally, I have always been making jewelry along the painting and drawing, so it seems natural to have my patterns translate across the media. Also weaving or beading designs help me generate the imagery…
Can you describe your drawings? How do you make these?
I love this stuff! I have been thinking about doing this for months. And there is an element of surprise to them! I just create different patterns or movements with crayons, without thinking. AI make several drawings at the same time, cover them with black or blue paint and then quickly forget which pattern is hidden beneath. When I start drawing into them with an exacto knife or a pushpin I realize which drawing I am working with. The surprise reminds me a little bit of printmaking…
How did you end up in Ghana?
I first ended up in Ghana studying bead making for a semester in college. After graduate school, I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study patterns found in textiles, bead making, sign painting. It was an incredible year traveling throughout most of West Africa. I often travelled with bead traders on ancient bead trading routes taking me from Ghana to Timbuktu to Nigeria… I completed acouple of murals with Ghanaian painters and designed textiles with a major textile company that producestextiles for all of West Africa. That experience was incredible! Just generating patterns for a specific audience was great. Thinking: “This is for Nigeria, this is for Togo…” Every country had a little bit of a different design…. The company would reference traditional weaving but also try to make it contemporary… That was really great.
Last December, I went to do another mural in the neighborhood of North Keneshie which is located in Accra.
How did they accept you there as a foreign female making a mural?
Men control all the street painting. You would never see woman paint on the street. Also it’s a profession that is completely married with advertising, it is all utilitarian. So to see a mural painted by a painter not commercially invested is so strange to them… They were stopping by and asking: “What is this? Who paid you to do this?” I collaborated with a couple of sign painters there, and referenced imagery from local garments, children’s murals, and personal textile designs. Everyone loved it and wanted to help.
Now in May, I am going to South Africa to visit the Ndebele who have a long tradition of women painting their homes with geometric patterns. Their designs are amazing!
By Terri Ciccone
Imagine taking a tour of an art gallery through someone’s mind, where each and every fold of the brain is another corridor leading you to a brilliant piece someone had once seen or thought of. What I Know, a group show curated by Jason Andrew is currently on view at NYCAM Gallery in Chelsea feels exactly as a physical tour through an art gallery of the mind.
What I Know is a show that features over 40 artists from the tight nit and burgeoning art scene in Bushwick that the curator and collector himself is very much a part of. The opening night was packed with a sort of who’s who of the Bushwick art scene, those one would normally see hanging around Norte Maar or Storefront. It was as if a space ship had sucked them all up and dropped them off in Chelsea. Some speculated that this was the slightly less than unintentional plan of Jason Andrew himself, to swipe the artists from their homey-digs as Chelsea big-wig Luhring Augustineopened their new space in Bushwick on that very night.
There is less than a visual theme that ties the show together. Paintings seemed to work with drawings, drawings with sculpture, sculpture with collage. But despite a theme not being visibly apparent, it was clear that these pieces were tied together by community. In a statement in the gallery, Andrew ponders the fact that we live in a very uncertain era, and all we can really rely on is our creative wits. So whether it was Paul D’Agostino’s collage of clock cut outs ticking along near Brooke Moyse’s abstract painting “Kalied,” or Ben Godward’s giant blob of paint that looks like it had once wreaked havoc on a street, swallowing bottles and license plates in its colorful path – these ideas juxtaposed against one another in one space created a solidness and a comfort.
What we know, or can take from the show, is these great works are being thought of and created, and don’t just exist in a Bushwick vacuum. The show is unapologetic in being simply a massive collection of great, solid pieces. And because of that, there was a different feeling in the air in Chelsea that evening. A shift, a change, a quake could be felt in the art world.
By Katarina Hybenova
The remaining 500 openings in Bushwick last weekend had a common topic for discussion: Did you go to Luhring Augustine opening? What did you think about the mega-space?
We have discussed the potential impacts of having a fancy Chelsea gallery taking a slide on Bushwick DYI hippness back and forth, and then we discussed it once again. It seems like all that remains is to acknowledge that they are here, and to hope that their presence will bring as many positive things as possible. Hopefully, they will acknowledge us back, make a studio visit here and there, and discover local emerging talent. Some of us were asking how does one even make them notice us? How does one network with art world celebrities? Well, we don’t know either. But here is what you definitely should not be doing:
#1 Stare creepily at Marina Abramovič, because the fact she starred at you at MoMA gives you enough of an excuse.
#2 When bumping into Charles Atlas in the bathroom, ask casually whether his barber takes hallucinogens.
#3 Give wrong directions to that middle-aged lady who is scared to death trying to navigate her GPS from Grattan to Knickerbocker crying she doesn’t even know where she is… Send her to Johnson Avenue for a late night Bushwick scenic walk.
#4 Demand a free can of Tecate from Luhring Augustine employee with British accent. Insist you need it to process the trippy installation!
#5 Roberta Smith will surely reserve a spot for you among her Top 2012 if you only perform that piece you’ve been practicing with your roommates in your loft. Yes, perform right there at the opening. Naturally, her friends are interested too.
#6 Ask that artsy middle aged French lady next to you at the opening to tell you stories about Henri Matisse when he was still alive.
#7 Just stand there. Be naked while at it.
#8 Wonder where all these old people came from and why they keep staring at all those numbers. Wonder aloud.
#9 The best way to get the attention of Jerry Salz is to steadily scream in a high pitched voice (we swear).
#10 Stalk Kathy Halbreich home. For the future reference, you need to know where she lives.
By Katarina Hybenova
Early March in New York means art, and nothing else but art. Why? Because it’s the Armory Week!! Seven awesome art fairs will present their art shows to the public following the historic tradition ofthe Armory Show that was held for the first time in 1913 as International Exhibition of Modern Art at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets.
Among the seven art fairs, Fountain Art Fair is arguably the coolest and the most open to emerging artists and galleries. Naturally, this means that Fountain is a popular destination for exhibitors and their friends from Bushwick, and by now it’s a good tradition of many awesome Bushwickians not to miss Fountain. From the exhibitors this year, we are totally looking forward to see Microscope Gallery, who will present the most viral of all the current performers – Marni Kotak. Mighty Tanakagallery, whose owners are from Bushwick represents many Bushwick-based street artists, and our favorite chick in street art Gilf! will be at Foutain too. Amazing performers from Grace Exhibition Space will be there too, and let’s not forget about our artsy sister project, the 1st Bushwick internet-based gallery, BushwickGallery.com, objective of which is to endorse Bushwick art using the power of the Internet.
This year’s Foutain is taking place in the historic 69th Regiment Armory, and we went to check out the location and to meet up with the Fountain organizational team. I’m sure you’d be excited to hear that many of the people on the team are also from Bushwick, like the producer – Elisabeth Tully.
Fountain Art Fair is having a big launch party tonight at Gallery Bar in the city, and with a discounted ticket you can drink as much free beer as you want to and listen to all the awesome DJs. So don’t miss out if you’re in the city tonight.
Are you from Bushwick and are you part of the Armory Week? Leave us a comment, we’d be happy to check you out!