The Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn has become one of the foremost hubs of creative activity in New York. Attracting ambitious emerging talent from all around the world, it provides a fertile breeding ground for the next generation of substantial, world-class art-makers.
In line with our founding ambition to expose the work of worthy emerging and under-represented talent, StandPipe Gallery is extremely proud to team with curator Deborah Brown in presenting “Fresh Paint from Bushwick,” a group show featuring work by some of the more advanced and interesting Bushwick-based painters. We commend Deborah for having devoted herself to identifying and developing the best and the brightest in the Bushwick art scene and are proud to be doing our part to expose these noteworthy artists in the Manhattan market.
Alison Pierz, Director
Michael J. Bowen, Co-Director
As a creative community, the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn has exploded over the past ten years. The number of studios, galleries, and artist-initiated events has increased annually, making it the most exciting artist-based neighborhood in New York since Soho in the 1970s. I have maintained my own studio in Bushwick since 2005, and since 2010 have also run the gallery STOREFRONT, which I co-founded and where we show the work of area artists.
When I was given the opportunity to curate an exhibition at the emerging StandPipe Gallery in Manhattan, I decided to focus on what I knew best, highlighting the many approaches to painting currently visible in the Bushwick scene. The artists in “Fresh Paint from Bushwick” work in a variety of ways—surrealism, painterly abstraction, minimal abstraction, and realism. While they share affinities with broader currents in the history of painting, each artist has a fresh, individual voice. The ideas they explore in their work take place within the practice of painting, which is a fundamentally introspective medium requiring an almost devotional attitude. Looking at painting requires a comparable commitment from the viewer to enter into a dialogue with the painter, a conversation that differs substantially from the rapid experience of the digital world we normally inhabit. The artists in the show demonstrate that an ancient medium still has the power to compel our attention and to help us to contemplate visual experience with surprise and delight.
I would like to thank Alison Pierz and Michael Bowen of Standpipe Gallery for inviting me to curate this show and my thanks to all the artists as well for their enthusiastic participation.
Bushwick, August 2011
“Fresh Paint from Bushwick”
Josette Urso works back and forth between natural and urban subjects, creating free flowing and highly intuitive, cross-fertilized images. Teetering between objectivity and subjectivity, representation and abstraction, her images are driven by the real-time energy of the locations in which she works [give a few brief examples]. As such, her work serves as a record of place yet simultaneously transforms each experience into a meditation on painterly practice.
Adam Simon builds his images by over-painting successive layers then abrading the surface with an electric sander, excavating portions of the underlying work while obliterating others. His process produces unexpected vestigial forms and unlikely juxtapositions that take on a distinctly abstract beauty. On a metaphorical level, his work also suggests the accumulation of lives lived one on top of the other, depicting humanity as an aggregate of simultaneous existences.
Kerry Law produces seascapes alla prima from direct observation, creating a highly intuitive vision of beach, water, and sky. By focusing on the infinite variations accessible within the same subject, his work explores the relationship between viewer and viewed. By paring his images down to bare essentials, he also explores the perceptual bases of minimalist abstraction.
Rachel LaBine’s abstract constructions call attention to absence as much as they strive to create illusions of presence. By covering or erasing the figures and structures she initially lays down, she highlights the deductive as well as the additive aspect of painterly practice. By also insisting upon laying bare the substrata of her work, she calls attention to the constructed, material nature of painting itself, revealing its objective existence as pigment applied to a flat surface.
Halsey Hathaway’s abstract canvases are constructed with the psychology of the spectator in mind. His work is designed to serve as a screen for subconscious projections, encouraging experiences of apophenia (seeing meaningful relationships in essentially unrelated images) and pareidolia (envisioning objects or images where none are actually present). His work additionally illustrates a deep engagement with questions of space, form, scale and color.
Holly Coulis‘s interest in still life originates from an interest in the stillness of painting itself. As the artist puts it: “There is something compelling about stillness in paintings and so in a way it makes sense (and maybe it’s funny, too) to paint still-lives.” Using representational techniques is only the beginning of her process; Coulis works to simultaneously challenge traditional notions about figurative painting, entering into a meaningful dialogue with flatness and abstraction.
Gina Beavers’ work contains certain resonances with surrealism, reflecting a process that is both observational and transformative. Starting with mundane, everyday encounters––a tree that appears to have a figure cut out of it, a decorative mosaic attached to the wall of a restaurant––she quickly accentuates the differences between the experienced and the rendered image. She also demonstrates an interest in processes that lie outside of traditional brushwork, using generous amounts of acrylic to sculpt her surfaces into forms that turn the paintings into reliefs.