Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Bushwick Means Business: Open Studios Weekend, June 5 to 7

Bushwick Open Studios is painting the town red.  Like the map of the world in the heyday of the British Empire with its swathes of pink, there isn’t much left of eastern Brooklyn that’s legible underneath the cluster of red markers on the Google Map if you key in Bushwick Open Studios.  That’s because literally hundreds of studio buildings, many warrens of countless individual studios, stand cheek by jowl with galleries and alternative venues offering a cornucopia of aesthetic stimulation this sunny cool weekend.

A work by Patricia Fabricant on view in the exhibition La Gioconda at Mona Liza Fine Furniture, 23 Meadow Street
A work by Patricia Fabricant on view in the exhibition La Gioconda at Mona Liza Fine Furniture, 23 Meadow Street

BOS, a volunteer-driven, “non-hierarchical” organization, enjoys its ninth annual event.  It is also the second year of NEWD, the “counterpoint to the existing art fair model” in which “strong local curatorial voices” of the sub-borough, whether collectives, galleries, non-profits or artist-run ventures, lay out their wares in an art fair-like environment in the 7000 square feet of the 1896, a stunning 19th-century warehouse space at 592 Johnson Avenue close to the Jefferson Street L. Look out of the two person curated booth of works by artists Rachel Garrard and Filipe Cortez at the imaginatively titled venture, Department of Sign and Symbols, a Vinegar Hill-based gallery, residency program and arts club.

Bushwick is a cultural notion that encroaches well into Queens, as one of the sub-borough’s more imaginatively titled galleries, Rex Regina (since decamped to Manhattan with its cheaper rents!) acknowledged. The gallery pays a return visit to the old hood as participants in NEWD. Rex Regina, named for the Latinized official names of Kings and Queens counties, was initially an offshoot of shared studio space of ex-Chicago graduates who formed a peer group in New York,

A work by Nancy Elsamanoudi on view at the artist's studio as part of Bushwick Open Studios weekend, 2015
A work by Nancy Elsamanoudi on view at the artist’s studio as part of Bushwick Open Studios weekend, 2015

Art Helix, the sprawling gallery at the raw industrial space of 299 Meserole Street and now a cultural mainstay in the area, offers a couple of shows opening this busy weekend, and are also hosting a group show beyond its own premises, curated by Wilson Duggan and Julie McKim, and fittingly titled “La Gioconda” as it takes place at Mona Liza Fine Furniture.  A line-up of dozens of artists includes Amanda Millet-Sorsa, Beata Chrzanowska, Claudia Chaseling, Ehren Clodfelter, and, pictured above, Patricia Fabricant who also has work included in another group show in the neighborhood running through the BOS weekend, Thrice Legendary, or Forever Thens at Centotto at 250 Moore Street, #108.  This is a venue usually open only by appointment so the weekend is a good chance to catch up with works by the likes of Fran O’Neill,  Todd Bienvenu, Lawrence Swan, Lori Ellison, Ben La Rocco, Paul Behnke, Anne Russinof, Enrico Gomez, Riad Miah, and Barbara Friedman amongst the dozens of mostly painters selected for this exhibition. The title is also pretty intriguing, but in the department of wacky monikers the prize this year must go to Westernized, Watered-Down Zen Philosophies, a nine-person sculpture, sound and motion show at 18-66 Troutman Street.

Where can artcritical start in singling out studios to visit amongst the hundreds whose doors are open and walls are spruced up for our delectation?  Why not with our own people: artcritical writers and editors participating include our digital arts correspondent Carla Gannis who has work on view at Studio 303 at 41 Varick Avenue, and longtime editorial associate Nancy Elsamanoudi (see image) whose Ridgewood studio is at 63 Woodward Ave # 2409b.

For a full list of studios and other events, visit