A Pleasant (Re)introduction: Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself Opens June 21st in Long Island City, Queens

Legacy speaks volumes, and in Long Island City, who better to reintroduce the stunning former DeNobili Cigar Factory space as a brand new arts center than two established curators: Krista Scenna of Brooklyn’s Ground Floor Gallery and Caroline Peñafiel of Local Project in Queens. Scenna and Peñafiel are well known on the local scene, and have carefully selected a cohort of contemporary artists to christen this formative new Long Island City arts space. The curators have selected an eclectic and talented group of New York City artists through an open call process for this inaugural exhibition, Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself, opening Thursday, June 21st from 5-9 pm at the space located at 9-20 35th Avenue in Long Island City. 

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Fifty-seven years after closing, the former factory re-opened in 2017 as a mixed-use creative space. This welcome new sanctuary for arts in Long Island City is opening its doors to local creatives for exhibitions and events. This inaugural exhibition features work by dozens of NY-based artists, including Christina Massey, Peter Gynd, Etty Yaniv, Patricia Fabricant, Shira Toren, Blanka Amezkua, Esperanza Cortez, and more. All artists are listed on the Facebook event listing for Opening Reception: An Art Show for the Cigar Factory LIC. In addition for serving as a blank canvas of sorts for the creative community in New York City, collectors of all backgrounds are more than welcome as well – most artworks on view will be price near or below $1000!

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“Feminine Blue” (2018) Watercolor, acrylic, paper, fabric, aluminum, collagraph monoprint, silk screen, thread – Chine-collé technique. (Image Courtesy of the Artist)

Brooklyn-based artist Christina Massey has two artworks featured in this stunning, immersive exhibit: “Feminine Blue” and “Girly Gothic”. Both works were produced this year as the result of a labor-intensive process in which the artist combined remnants of past watercolor and collage artworks with newly developed skills from her SIP residency as part of the EFA’s Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. These works combine a delicate approach to line with bold patterns and hues, crafting fantastic and mythology obejcts protruding diagonally across the picture plane. Massey’s works display a masterful painterly touch, both elusive and intrepid in their hybridity.

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“Girly Gothic” (2018) Watercolor, acrylic, paper, fabric, aluminum, collagraph monoprint, image transfer, silk screen – Chine-collé technique (Image Courtesy of the Artist)

Massey’s works are definite standouts in the exhibit, on view at the Cigar Factory LIC through Thursday, July 19th. With over ten years of exhibition history, the artist holds a BFA from California State University, and experiments across painting, printmaking and soft sculpture. In addition to her inclusion in Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself, the artist is also concurrently exhibiting at the Korean Cultural Center through July 6th, and will be exhibiting work in the upcoming SIP Summer Exhibition at Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts from July 11-29.

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself is free and open to the public. Exhibition hours are during events on Friday, June 22nd and Thursday, July 19th with additional viewing hours on Thursday, July 12th from 3-7 pm and Saturday, July 15th from 1-6 pm. For additional information or inquiries, please contact Krista Scenna: Krista@groundfloorbk.com

(Below installation images of Cigar Factory LIC’s Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself, courtesy the curators.)

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Onel Naar’s Evocative Works Sustain Morir Soñando at Knockdown Center

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Traversing the trenchant territory between identity, hybridity and ambuity, Morir Soñando marks a cutting-edge look at mixed media in the post-colonial era. Opening Friday, June 22nd from 6-9 pm, the group exhibit features artists Penn Eastburn, Valery Jung EstabrookHein KohJoiri Minaya, Kristianne Molina, Onel Naar, Esther RuizCristina Tufiño, and Woolpunk and is curated by Alex Santana. Referencing the popular yet tricky to create Dominican beverage of the same name, made by meticulously combining milk with orange juice, the exhibit untangles the delicate intricacies binding together artists of mixed heritage working in mixed media. With international roots spanning the Global South and beyond, these artists reclaim the interstitial space between power and vulnerability, belonging and exclusion.

A sneak peek at works on view, such as Onel Naar’s Colgão Diptych (2017) prove the exhibit to allow materials room to breathe and to assume new identities. Deceptively simple organic matter becomes the frame and the image: separated by space yet linked by form. This gentle conceptual investigation of our expectations of fine art with particular attention to the diptych: questioning what constitutes the art object and the auxiliary objects supporting its display. In the artist’s own words, he investigates the concept of diptych in contemporary art to interrogate “the physical and conceptual dualities present.” This duality permeates the crux of the exhibition concept, which probes the notion of seeking strength and liberation through vulnerability.

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On view from June 22-August 19th at the Knockdown Center, Morir Soñando provides space for a wider consideration of the existing cultural framework that contemporary art undermines, supports and even propagates. Where there is space for new materials to infiltrate and expand concepts of contemporary art, there is an expansion of our definition of from where – and for whom – art is created.

Mediated Forms: Artist Ida Ivanka Kubler’s Layered Practice

Spanning fine art, fashion and even sericulture, artist Ida Ivanka Kubler truly earns the moniker multidisciplinary artist. Drawing particular inspiration from the natural world, Kubler creates a practice synthesizing natural materials and humanist subject matter. Placing the figure in nature, or evoking figurative elements in reclaimed organic matter, Kubler masterfully comments on our place within the wider ecosystem and our integration with natural phenomena in a visceral, poignant manner.
 
We sat down to chat with the artist about her interest in integrating natural materials in her work and how her practice combines disparate elements into a unified whole.
 
The Birth of an Idea II, Silk cocoons and acrylic on canvas, 78x39inch
Ida Ivanka Kubler, The Birth of an Idea II (silk cocoons and acrylic on canvas, 28×39″)
ANTE. Thanks for chatting with us today, Ida! Many of your artworks either draw inspiration from natural motifs, such as landscapes, or incorporate actual natural materials (such as your Birth of an Idea series). Can you explain your interest in nature and how it inspires you as an artist?
 
IIK. Art is a journey. I tried to settle in one place but life encourages me to travel: from forest to deserts, grasslands, oceans, rivers, snowy landscapes, mountains, even the ruins of older civilizations. I accept the paths this journey has brought into my life.
 
My art has become my diary: sometimes in physical form, when I use the materials I’ve gathered along the way, and sometimes in an image when I use the visual identity of a place. 
 
ANTE. You also seem to have an affinity for portraits and the human body. Do you have a preference for portrait or landscape? Do you like to combine the two, and can you explain if you treat either subject differently in terms of medium (oil, acrylic, etc)?
IIK. My professional arts training started in my teenage years with a specific study of the skull found in a book called “Anatomy For Artists”. At arts school I was taught to see the body “under the skin”.
 
From my beginning in this traditional realistic painting knowledge about muscles and bones, I then moved to the medium of landscape. If you have a passion and you wish to follow it professionally, you have to go for the challenges and also take risks. What I’ve discovered is that it is good to use oil paint to convey depth through many transparent layers in portraits and landscapes (such as in my Non-Material series) while for abstract works it’s better to use acrylics as it can be applied only in one layer in perfection. Once can then reach greater depths through examining three-dimensional aspects in their work (as with The Birth Of An Idea Series)
 
Also, once I get too comfortable with one thing I find it stimulating to switch to something else!
 
ANTE. Which artists have inspired how you make your artwork? 
 
IIK. Very consciously for my Non-Material series I was influenced by Peter Doig, especially artworks like “White Canoe”, “Orange Sunshine”, and “Rosedale.” 
 
This inspiration made me go to London to study at Chelsea College of Arts (the same university where Peter studied.) Subconsciously, for my The Birth Of An Idea series I was influenced by Mark Rothko.  I found out this much later, by the time I’ve created the 50th piece and was halfway through the series. He is more into red squares where I like blue tones and circles! But we both use simple geometric forms and color as a medium.
“Non Material II” (Oil on canvas, 47.2”h x 63”w)
Ida Ivanka Kubler, Non-Material II (oil on canvas, 47.2”h x 63”w)
ANTE. Which natural settings or phenomena have inspired your artworks?
 
IIK. Sublime magical settings in the forest, waterfalls, rivers, fog, weather, natural forms, and stones inspire my Non Material Series. Silkworm cocoons have led to The Birth Of An Idea series.
 
As an example, last summer the natural rock phenomenon in Bulgaria, called stone mushrooms, greatly inspired me and I made a short art film where I painted in front of these natural structures. I painted with honey and powders: turmeric, green tea, white egg shell, cacao and fruit powder on a honey comb, and finally the film crew and I shared the artwork together – eating it as a feast!
 
ANTE. Explain your diverse background in creative, arts and fashion industries. How do they inform each other? What is your education and training, and how does it impact the artist you are today?
 
IIK. I was born an artist and my talent expresses itself fervently. When I was young, my mom couldn’t get me away from the table where I was painting the whole day. In my early twenties, I got involved in fashion and I ran a fashion company for many years as a way to make money. I wasn’t ripe enough to survive only from art. With that fashion company,  we were present at fashion shows in both Paris and New York. We had celebrities as clients. One famous actress said once that she loved my dresses as they are like artworks. And indeed I was using fabrics made out of paper, flowers or other very exclusive and rare, crème de la crème fabrics.
 
These days for some of my art shows openings I create my own outfits as a protest to today’s “uniformity”.
 
I’ve attended classes at five schools for my arts training, and one school for fashion, including the National Academy of Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria; University of Applied Arts, Bielefeld, Germany; and Chelsea College of Arts, London, UK.
 
What you learn in art about sculpting was very useful in fashion draping. There is in many ways little separation between the two. 
“Non Material III” (Oil on canvas, 47.2”h x 63”w)
Ida Ivanka Kubler, Non-Material III (oil on canvas, 47.2”h x 63”w)
ANTE.  Can you explain a bit more about your Non-Material series? How do you create these works and what inspired you to begin the series? What direction are you headed with this series?
 
IIK. What I like about my Non Material series is that it combines three important aspects that excite me: traditional professional painting, in-depth technique, and community/family spirit.
 
The depth and transparency in these pieces appears through many thin layers of exclusive paint from the Old Holland palette – for me, the hallmark brand of high quality of paint. This technique is complex, with the result that it takes months to make one painting.
 
The subject “on stage” are two or more people walking next to each other in a natural setting. The scene could be from any period of time, as the clothing of the people is not important, but their close connection to each other and relation to the group as a whole is key.
 
My clients for these portraits are often families. I portray them walking together, perhaps before or after lunch. Walking together creates a special bond in families. Walking together could be a synonym for thinking together, experiencing together, and loving together. To catch the energy in this family dynamic is a very exciting task. Families who are interested in capturing this unique perspective can feel free to reach out to me, as I happily take commissions in this expanding series. 
 
ANTE. Your works are held in art collections the world over. Can you share what are some themes that your collectors admire in your work? What are some common responses that you get from those interested in your artwork, and how does your work inspire them?
 
IIK. I call the responses to my artworks ‘gifts”, as they come to me like positive surprises. My last client was from LA, and my dealer there forwarded her message to me saying, “The piece spoke to me, so I had to buy it and give it a home.”
 
Some of my works have even helped people heal through psychological stress. My works have been published by Behring Institute for Medical Research as deemed to improve individual’s health. I understand myself expressing healing messages through my artworks.
Also, some of my collectors in the past have invited me to paint in salons in their home, so I’ll stay and spend time painting in this room in the their home that serves as my dedicated studio. While I paint, it is often the children who will visited me to watch me paint several times per day. I’ve received emails like: “My little girl is asking when Ida will be back here again?” or “Why is Ida having such a long holiday away from us?” or “My boy is waiting in the morning at the window and asking for Ida”. I am happy I inspire children through my art-making.
 
ANTE. What upcoming exhibition and shows can you tell us about?
 
IIK. My next exhibition will be in LA. To subscribe to my invitation list, please feel free to email me at idaivankakubler@gmail.com

Good Fences Make Intricate Neighbors: The Border and Galerie Protege Team Up To Wide Acclaim

by Alison Martin, Ed. by Audra Lambert

 

Through eras of American culture, from Robert Frost to Little House on the Prairie to Home Improvement, neighbors have always played an important role in the American psyche. Now, an innovative group exhibition hosted in two parts between Manhattan and Brooklyn (neighboring boroughs in New York City) gives us insights into the creative world of artists by peeking at their work over the fence, so to speak. Intricate Neighbors I & Intricate Neighbors II, the two components of this group exhibition, draw from the impact that neighboring countries exert on each other by viewing artworks by artists from North America, South Korea, Pakistan and other locales.

The works in this exhibition, created by artists the world over, include paintings, sculpture, drawing and new media. Both locations are set up to depict an outdoor setting as though entering a neighbor’s backyard with the floor covered in artificial grass and vines mixed with purple and other kinds of colorful flowers. The Border gallery exhibit, on view through June 10, complements the portion on view at Galerie Protege through June 17, Intricate Neighbors II: allowing insights into the aesthetic of the exhibit as a two-part yet unified whole.

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Intricate Neighbors II installation view at Galerie Protege (courtesy Galerie Protege)

Intricate Neighbors I contains a stunning painting, “Dinner”, by Korean artist Ara Cho. The work features an outline of a nude woman’s body kneeling underneath a dining room table as grass grows beneath her. Her neck and head are transformed into a flower pot rising up onto the table, pink and blue flowers emerging from its soil. An overhead kitchen lamp bathes the flowers in light, while another nude figure – denoted only by its visible legs – is seated at the table with a knife and fork in hand. Another Korean artist, Hyon Gyon, displays the artwork “My 1990s”, featuring assemblages of acrylic paint, artificial flowers, and fabrics on canvas that burst open with color and energy.

Intricate Neighbors II includes another oil and fabric painting by Cho, “The Colorful Lunch”. Similar to “Dinner”, Cho delves into an imaginary fantasy world including such figures as a human body with a horse’s head attached. This reverse centaur hybrid wears a dark blue suit, sitting on the grass supported by his elbow, with his other hand pointing out an imaginary person. A headless nude female figure sits across from him as plants sprout from her neck. Above her is a rainbow, and a dark cloud made from fabric, the only three-dimensional element of the piece. Surreal and jarring the work combines to exude a disorienting effect.

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Intricate Neighbors I installation view, The Border (56 Bogart – image courtesy The Border)

“Basic Pulley Theory” by Denise Treizman also makes an impression. The work consists of a rope hanging from the ceiling with colorful ceramic tires on either end. One end is meant to be heavier than the other as it drags to the ground leaving the other hanging end suspended up in the air.

Notably, a short video by Bolo (a duo consisting of artists Qinza Najm and Saks Afridi) makes an appearance. Titled “Carousel”, the work features a 3-D animated “dictator” character with voice narrations by actor Charlie Chaplin from his 1940 film The Great Dictator reciting phrases such as “humanity is lost and has been replaced by machines” and “we must replace cleverness with kindness.”

Intricate Neighbors I is on view through June 10 at The Border, 56 Bogart St., Brooklyn, NY. The project space is open on weekends from 1-6 p.m. and by appointment during the week. Intricate Neighbors II is on view at Galerie Protégé, 197 9th Avenue, New York, NY, through Jun. 17. The gallery is open Mon.-Sat. from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Chashama Gala and Art Party Shakes Up Spring Art Gala Season

“This isn’t your grandmother’s charity fundraiser.” Arts patron and Chashama Artistic Director Anita Durst sets the stage with this quip for the upcoming Chashama Gala, billed as the most outrageous art party of the year. The event takes place on Thursday, June 7 with the gala running from 6 pm-9 pm and the Afterparty from 9 pm-12 midnight.

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Sean Langhaus’ AcroYoga from Chashama 2017 Gala (courtesy Sunny Norton)

Over 30,000 square feet of unused office space will be repurposed as a platform for an artistic carnival for the senses, complete with a wide array of interactive art experiences with entertainers, artists and performers engaging guests throughout the evening. The dazzling artistic program will take place at 4 Times Square in New York City. The labyrinthine array of encounters at this year’s Gala will honor renowned artist Tony Bechara and IVY: The Social University.

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Flambeaux Fire – Living Candelabras – (courtesy Manny Inoa / Chashama)

Securing opportunities for 15,000 artists since its beginning in 1995, Chashama partners with property owners to secure spaces for artists to exhibit. All proceeds from the events will support Chashama’s mission to give artists space to create and present their work, while providing free art programming in underserved communities. For more information on Chashama’s programs and mission please visit the organization’s website.  For further information on the event/ticketing, please contact Suzannah Kellner- 646-5946347; email: Suzannah@chashama.org 

Peter Gynd Delights with “Blanketed” at Ground Floor Gallery

Artist Peter Gynd takes a subtle approach to the nuance of geography and communication.

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Install image: Jordan Rathkopf

Framing his explorations of identity through the lens of textile and pattern, Gynd’s paintings at Ground Floor Gallery, on view mid-May through June 3rd, offer the viewer a literally veiled approach to investigating meaning. Cloaked figures navigate nuanced blends of imagery, with minimal color but an intricately balanced sense of line. Figures in his paintings and photography are precariously balanced, hovering delicately between agency and ambivalence.

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Install image: Jordan Rathkopf

Taking cues world textiles and the ambiguity of identity, Gynd’s figures stand solitary yet defiant. Features hidden, their postures indicate hesitancy or a search for a deeper meaning. Figure and ground emerge as partners in a compositional dance: the form emerging from aspects of an uncertain environment, solid yet unclear. Landscape itself exists yet recedes, playing a role as ambiguous as the movements of the figure it foregrounds. Color and line often share a role across figure and landscape, intertwining the two in a holistic narrative.

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Install image: Jordan Rathkopf

Trained meticulously as an oil painter, a fifth generation artist in his family, Gynd holds a BFA in Glass from Alberta College of Art+Design and works as an artist and curator. He was selected as prestigious artist participant in Ground Floor Gallery’s 5th anniversary project “…in 5 Acts.” Gynd’s exhibit, “Blanketed: Textiles, Culture and the Landscape,” is on view through June 3rd at Ground Floor Gallery, 343 5th Street, Brooklyn. Gallery hours are 3-8 pm and the gallery will have a closing event on Sunday, June 3rd.

Ylenia Mino: A World-Renowned Artist Shares Her Perspective

In our weekly interview with a ground-breaking international artist, this week we chat with Italian artist Ylenia Mino. Benefiting from her multilateral perspective, we are thrilled to learn more about her nuanced artistic practice, international career and how her varied, eclectic artistic training impacts her work today. The artist has a prevalent career abroad, especially in the United States, with an upcoming exhibit from June 2nd at Gallery Sitka (MA), work in the Artist’s Style in Art group exhibition in June (Los Angeles, CA) and a solo show at Hellada Gallery (Long Beach, CA) in July. The artist has recently collaborated with Aquarium of the Pacific this May in Long Beach, California and exhibited at the Red Dot Auction at Chuck Jones Center in Costa Mesa, CA.


ANTE: Thanks for sitting down with us, Ylenia! Many of your artworks seem inspired by your travels. Can you talk about your exhibitions abroad and what motivates you to travel as an artist?

YM: I love traveling and take inspiration from the energy, different cultures, and beautiful places that I see during my travels. I recently took a cross-country road trip from NYC to LA and it was simply wonderful to see the southern part of the United States. So many states and such a big variety of landscapes and wonders.  I think my favorite and the most inspiring to me was exploring a Petrified Forest, a magical and ancient site. What I love to do is to take lots of photos with my camera and in my mind; then, I put these memories on canvas.

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Mino with her installation in Signal Hill

ANTE: Your works showcase a broad, international influence. Can you explain how pop culture – and American culture specifically – have influenced your practice?

YM: I spent many years in NYC and I definitely absorbed “the melting pot” culture of the Big Apple. You may notice much in my traditional art and landscapes, but it’s evident in the strong energy and vibes you get from my paintings. American culture has impacted both my art and my experiences, but I still consider myself a carrier of European culture and vibes.

ANTE: You are an artist internationally recognized for your artwork, particularly your landscape paintings. Can you talk a bit about painting competitions you’ve won and international exhibitions you’ve participated in?

YM: I’ve taken part in many competitions. Over the years, I had the honor to be included in international exhibitions in London, England; Austria; and also, the Caribbean as well. The last competition I won was in NYC, called “Design is Everything” at Dorma in Bryant Park. My painting, “Journey”, was very successful, and thoroughly appreciated by the jury and the public!

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Ylenia Mino displaying her painting

ANTE: Would you explain your background as an artist? Is your education in fine art or art history? Are you self-taught? How has your education impacted your artistic practice?

YM: I started painting when I was a little girl. Every spare moment away from school, I was drawing and getting immersed into my creative and imaginary world. My parents noticed my natural inclination and around the age of 7 they brought me to a private school run by an amazing Egyptian painter, Mohsen. I studied on and off for about 10 years with this Egyptian master.  I then got a diploma degree in classical studies and languages (Latin, Ancient Greek, History of Art, Philosophy, etc). Learning from Mohsen really impacted my art; it was so inspiring to have the opportunity to learn like the old tradition and the greatest artists did, with a student-master relationship. Also, learning History of Arts and Ancient Greek and Latin increased and deepened my passion for culture and the arts.

ANTE: Can you explain how you connect your artistic practice to your support of charities and philanthropic causes worldwide?

YM: I started supporting charities and causes about 7 years ago by donating part of the proceeds from the sales of my paintings. Now, I regularly receive invitations to auctions, galas, benefit dinners, and celebrity events to be a fine artist sponsor at the event.

I believe in helping, encouraging and supporting people, so I support different charities, fundraisers, and causes. I hope my support will help to improve life conditions, give people a chance to develop their full potential and to reach their destiny in their society.

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Mino, Ylenia. “Tropical Paradise”(2017), Oil on Canvas, Triptych

ANTE: You’ve shown internationally in exhibitions and art fairs. What are your most interesting or favorite experiences exhibiting internationally and how have they helped to expand your artistic practice?

YM: I have had so many art shows and exhibitions that it is is hard to decide. They are all in some way my favorite and have contributed unique memories affecting my career as a fine artist, but I can definitely recall the one that marked the beginning of a new chapter in my career and life: International Artexpo New York 2011. It was my first international solo experience, and it opened my mind to a new world. A significant meeting I had during Artexpo was with Craig Kausen, the grandson of the amazing cartoonist and animation director, Chuck Jones, who is famous for creating Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, etc. At the time I was not fluent in English well, but Craig and I had a great conversation about art and my paintings. He inspired me and loved my works. He became fascinated by my passion and the love that I have for doing what I do – a passion that I attribute to my Italian heritage!

Filling the CHASM: Refuge Arts Season Opening, Friday June 1st from 7 pm

In the wake of Frieze week in New York, things have been quiet.

Too quiet.

Thank the stars we have CHASM: Refuge Arts Season Opening on Friday, June 1st from 7 pm til 2 AM, with subsequent art viewing hours from 6-10 pm on June 2nd & 3rd. Combining lights, installation art and music into a lush, immersive visual smorgasbord, CHASM is set to be a feast for the senses – and for nearly northing (entry is free/donation for artists before 10 pm, and just $10 after).  Hosted by Cornelia Singer, this thrilling event includes pieces by performance artists by Pauli Cakes and Pastiche Lumumba and a premier look at live music Richard Marshall (aka Richard Kennedy‘s) new live band, HIR.

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Revelers at CHASM (photo credit: Derek Rush)

This three-day arts/music showcase also features one-of-a-kind, never before seen commissioned light art works, on view all weekend. All CHASM participants identify as queer, non-binary and/or LGBTQ creatives: a tour-de-force of diverse creative talent. Live art and entertainment is rounded out by a roster including art by John RohrerVJ Sperm Whale, Alt Male and Kip Davis (Unter NYC) and featuring laser sculptures, a video + sculpture portal to another dimension, and more. Audio stimulation will be provided by FXWRK, opening the night with a DJ set heavy on instrumental, vox & chillwave electronica while Church Gore will be ending his U.S. tour at this show with a live vocal performance. Finally Brooklyn darling Lauren Flax who recently collaborated with Little Boots delivers a DJ set to close the night.

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SHALTMIRA performance with JJ Brine installation (photo credit: Derek Rush)

Created by Julia Sinelnikova and produced by Sam Black, Refuge Arts Season Opening has something for everyone.

CHASM is a Brooklyn-based curatorial project for new media that has been covered by the likes of The New York TimesThe Village VoiceCreatorsBedford + Bowery and Paper Mag.Refuge Arts is an experimental art platform based within the walls of a 3,600 square foot warehouse in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and online. Our mission is to support the creation and presentation of works achieved through new and evolving technologies, while also serving the local community as an open platform for experimentation

 

For more information, see CHASM: Refuge Arts Season Opening.

 

 

Raise Your Voice: In Praise of Artist Shoshanna Weinberger

“If you deny people their own voice, you’ll have no idea who they were.” Alice Walker

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“Excluded Included” 2017-2018 Mixed Media on Panel (Shoshanna Weinberger)

“invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery”, Shoshanna Weinberger’s solo exhibition at Project for Empty Space in Newark, NJ, employs repetition to dizzying effect. Perhaps not dizzying: mesmerizing.

Women’s bodies are both seen and unseen, presented and contorted into unidentifiable abstractions. Feminine visages, their outlines incorporating distinctly African and Afro-Carribbean hairstyles, are obscured by abstracted nothingness: their identities crushed beneath the weight of visual white noise. Similar to the background choir figures throughout Childish Gambino’s visceral and poignant music video for “This is America”, the multi-dimensional figures presented throughout Weinberger’s exhibition literally outline the trenchant visual narrative of hiding in plain sight. Even in the era of the #metoo movement, women are often excluded: their voices negated in everything from polite conversation to exorbitant wait times for major retrospectives. However, women of color fight an uphill battle not only against patriarchal discrimination but sometimes, even, from their own female allies. Weinberger’s presentations of the female body, ethnic even in their abstracted and distilled outline, elevates the Afro-Carribbean experience even while commenting on the objectification keenly experienced by women of color, in the arts as well as in everyday life.

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“A Grove of Invisible Fruit”, Shoshanna Weinberger, 2018 Two Sided Mirrored Acrylic.

Weinberger’s installation “A Grove of Invisible Fruit”, situated at the front of the gallery space, provides a hyper-dimensional yet fragmented entry point firmly rooting the artist’s overall exhibition. The “grove” can be viewed as a reflective and dizzying moment of pause – a blinding distraction, yet an inviting and meditative moment of respite anchoring the multiple viewpoints orienting visitors throughout the exhibition. The figures interspersed through “A Grove of Invisible Fruit” are hybrid beings: neither distinctly human nor wholly “other”, creole-ized and hypersexualized figures in high heels supporting a mirrored superstructure. The dual presence and absence of these figures, the lack of distinctive identity, could conceivably be contrasted with the experiences of women migrating to America. How dizzying is the burden of bearing others’ prejudice and preconceived notions? Much like the entrenched stereotypes hearkening back to the age of Chiquita Banana, these conceptions have neither disappeared nor evaded us as we continue to evolve as a society. Weinberger adoitly places these figures within a networked construct: joined together yet alienated, the figures reflect back only what we cast at them. They present to us Plato’s shadows on the walls of the cave.

“The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to [his] adoption of the adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards.” Frantz Fanon’s words in Black Skin, White Masks permeate the pores, the very follicles present in Weinberger’s works. In the artist’s series, “Invisible Invisibility”, she presents monochrome women who are identified by their cosmetics or sexualized poses, often obscured by the backgrounds which seem to “fill” them. Weinberger is presenting women difficult to categorize by societal “norms”: their very outlines prevent them ascending to the reified realm of acceptable “cultural standards.”

Fanon’s words echo throughout the exhibit, where literal “masks” create an entry point for viewers to both engage with these portraits and be denied access to the personal qualities typically found in portraiture. Voices are silenced and features hidden, marking both the uniformity of lived experiences of women of color and a refusal to be sequestered into stereotyped ethnic categories. The artist, herself American, Jewish and Jamaican by heritage, has both denied and overcome identity from “the other” in her figurative works. The portraits themselves seem to emerge from an obfuscation they willingly present to the viewer: by placing a barrier between themselves and the casual observer Weinberger’s creations upend expectations and deny the ubiquitous male gaze.

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L–>R, “Rhiannon”, 2017-2018 Mixed Media on Panel and “Emerging from the Periphery Like Mona Lisa”, 2018 Mixed Media on Panel, both by Shoshanna Weinberger

Weinberger’s exhibition as a whole mines the loaded metrics of repetition and representation. Presenting different variations on repeated themes allows the viewer multiple angles of entry into the series of artworks on view. The series of images in grids, according to Weinberger, represents yearbook photos – indicating variations on the artist’s own American, Jewish and Jamaican identity. The artist is presenting these autobiographical two-dimensional works on paper, presented alongside more sculptural works, literally examine themes present in the artist’s work from multiple angles. The visceral yet limited color scheme creates heightened awareness of the forms in the artist’s compositions. The artworks are tightly framed, implicating the viewer in almost claustrophobic nearness to the figures in the works they encounter. This irony of silenced narratives is reinforced by the presence of one single feature on the faces of the women in the artist’s portrait series: their mouths. Eyes, ears, and noses are left absent: women are expected to observe in real life; here, they are liberated and confined. They can only speak. Evoking the powerful moment of applying lipstick, a visible acceptance of womanhood, these lips are not only ready and able to speak but they are empowered to do so with grace and beauty.

Weinberger tumbles and leaps through a perceptive circus ring of contradictions in “invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery”. She produces one of the best nuanced exhibitions of Pop-infused, graphic style imagery in recent memory. While Pop art can be inherently subversive, Weinberger has managed to tease out intricacies of race, ethnicity and identity that are so often overlooked in contemporary art. Her dedicated exploration of individuality and marginalization has shown its splendor in this solo show at Project for Empty Space.

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L–>R: “The Queen of Fruit Walks Hi-Heeled in the Concrete Jungle: Invisible to Some and Obvious to Others”, 2018, Ink on Paper; “Some Fruit Have Legs”, 2018, Ink on paper (far wall); “The Camouflage Gang: Girls, Sisters and Otherness Passing” 2017-2018 (grid) works from the series “Invisible Invisibility” by Shoshanna Weinberger

In a space in the rear of the gallery, the artist points to a sculpture bust, indicating that it is a self-portrait created through the process of 3-D printing. Curled tendrils of hair hug the figures’s face, a cluster of evocative lips the only evident feature. The porcelain-colored whiteness of the bust shimmered in the direct light, giving the visage a sensual luster. Weinberger deftly re-imagines her identity as a literal fabrication, not just of social norms, but of the replicating process inherent to 3-D printing. Her vision of the portrait serves not as an admission, but instead can be perceived as a denial. This playful figuration is a credit to her finely tuned artistic sensibility and a deeper revelation of the ever-evolving social constructs of gender and ethnic identity.

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“A Rapid Prototype of My Doppelgänger”, 2018 3D Print Polymer, Paint, Wood; Shoshanna Weinberger

 

“invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery” is currently on view at Project for Empty Space, 2 Gateway Center in Newark, NJ, through May 18th. Shoshanna Weinberger is a currently resident at Project for Empty Space.

Amref Art Ball Honoring Toyin Ojih Odutola Set to Dazzle at A/D/O on April 28

Toyin Ojih Odutola took over the Whitney Museum in early 2018, and now she’s taking over at Amref Health Africa’s 2018 ArtBall takes place at A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on Saturday, April 28th at 7:30 pm. Tickets are still available for the event, celebrating the award-winning Nigerian-American artist and featuring art world superstars Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys and Solange Knowles among others.

The event puts a spotlight on the creative triumphs of Sub-Saharan Africa and the African diaspora while also raising funds to support Amref’s various infrastructure improvement initiatives on the African continent, including increasing access to water and healthcare among many other positive benefits for communities across Africa.To further support these efforts, Amref is hosting a contemporary African art auction, featuring various works of contemporary art and hosted by Artsy.

Wall of Ambassadors (2017) Toyin Ojih Odutola

The art auction, live now on Artsy, will be supplemented live at the event by the musical prowess of DJ Cuppy, while an open bar will be served in combination an incredible menu inspired by African cuisine provided by TasteArtNYC. The 2018 Amref ArtBall will be a star-studded event featuring the unmistakably striking creative atmosphere of Africa. Don’t miss your chance to purchase tickets to this event to support and champion African communities rising on the global stage!