Seriously Playful: The Hybrid Forms of Katie Hector

With a wink to contemporary aesthetics while unabashedly pushing the envelope, interdisciplinary artist Katie Hector, who lives and works in New York City, has rooted her emerging practice in painting with a focus on two main bodies of work: large-scale paintings on canvas and three-dimensional wall sculptures. In addition to her studio practice, Hector works as an independent curator and the Co-Director of Sine Gallery. She has worked to organize and fundraise a variety of projects, including an international exhibition in 2017, multiple collaborative and environmental installations, and over two dozen group shows, screenings, pop up events, and panel discussions.

Hector, who holds a BFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2014, has lectured at Mason Gross on professional development in the arts all while gaining recognition through scholarships, residencies, and awards including the 2017 Picture Berlin International Residency, the 2016 Merit-Based Scholarship from Urban Glass, the 2014 Scott Cagenello Memorial-Prize, and the 2013 Ruth Crockett Award. We sat down with Hector to get an update on her current artistic endeavors, scope out her upcoming projects and learn about whose work inspires her own experimental practice.

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“Tumblr Grl 2″, Katie Hector (22″ x 18”, acrylic an spray paint on shaped boards, 2017). Image courtesy the artist.

ANTE. Your practice examines, conceptually, parameters of virtual engagement across social media and the implications of modern technology on society. Can you talk us through your two series, FOMO and Interface, and how each examines these phenomena through a particular lens?

KH. I believe both series attempt to describe how new technologies and interfaces, specifically smartphones and social media have created shifts within communication and the contemporary psyche. Through large-scale painting the FOMO Series seeks to address social anxieties and how they relate to internet culture through utilizing abstract mask-like imagery. Repeating ovoid forms allude to a floating face with large staring eyes that take up most of the picture plane. For me, these mask-like forms reference selfie culture, emojis, and online personas while also signifying ancient desires to capture one’s likeness or establish a legacy.

The Interface Series meditates on the fetish object itself, that being smartphones and personal devices. To determine the scale for this series of work I utilize the dimensions of various tablets and monitors as a template. These pieces are comprised of two to three layers of geometric forms cut from various materials and collaged onto each other. I typically slather the base shape in a high gloss industrial enamel, which in effect mimics the sleek reflectiveness of a black screen. Additional layers are then affixed to this base surface and are three dimensional casting real shadows. I think of these subsequent layers as computer tabs, each containing their own set of painterly information and surface qualities. Palette as well as content unite these parallel bodies of work. Hyper-saturated prefabricated colors are sourced from commercial advertisements, anime, clickbait, and memes to create visual lures.


ANTE. You consider pop culture and the presence of the internet in society today through your work, specifying that you “anthropologically observe and document.” Can you walk us through this process and what drew you to this subject matter?

KH. I am acutely aware of the time and place I am a part of. I am a twenty something, a proper millennial, who was taught in grade school how to write a postal address and use the Dewey Decimal System in one class followed with how to type and proofread an email the next. I am a female, mixed-race American: born and raised in a capitalist democratic society. These are my personal truths and they all come into play at various points in the work, sometimes they’re subtle, but it’s all there.

There was a time I felt insecure about my subject matter, that speaking about social media was too Pop-ish and wouldn’t have any lasting impact, but time and time again I couldn’t help coming back to it. Looking back at my experience growing up it was radical to come of age during a time in which sending a handwritten letters became novelty and infinite spans of information seemingly became ubiquitously available. I am particularly fascinated with how we as a society are dealing with this incredible access to information. We essentially have free education where all of human history, the known world, any workshop, or book is downloadable, Google-able. We are living in an age where no one has to wonder anymore it’s all right there, at your fingertips, and one click away. However most people tend to use the internet for pleasure, entertainment, and communication. In American society we have subconsciously ascribed a hierarchical moral value system to how we utilize our internet time, one that is tied to puritan and capitalistic ideologies. Anything that falls outside of the parameters of smut-less, dutiful, goal-oriented work makes us feel kind‘ve undefinably bad: guilty, weird, gluttonous and indulgent. I take note of these patterns of behavior both in myself, and broadly speaking and focus my work on describing this failure to cast off the physicality of our humanity, namely our insecurities, even during our cognitive assertion into a virtual realm.

 

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“FOMO Green and Purple”, Katie Hector (22″x 22″, acrylic, latex, and spray paint on panel, 2018) Image courtesy the artist.

 

ANTE. Works from your FOMO series were recently on view in Brooklyn’s culture neighborhood of DUMBO, sponsored by DUMBO BID, as part of an arts + culture event. How were you hoping that visitors would interact with your works and did this transpire?

KH. The space was truly unusual and fun to navigate. Noted as, “likely the tiniest, most inconsequential gallery in NYC, maybe on the face of the Earth”, it was a 32-square foot pop up cubicle erected within the archway of the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO. The This Friday or Next Friday Space Station is a pure product of NYC, and the limited spaces available to artists. It’s a testament to the fact that anything is possible anywhere and that lack of space is not a roadblock, but rather an invitation for innovation. When I was first invited to show in this space I immediately envisioned an installation; however, in the weeks leading up to the show I was particularly obsessed with making large-scale paintings on drop cloth as the latest extension of the FOMO series. I choose five of these paintings to show and installed them on the interior of the gallery making an effort to completely cover any white wall space. I covered up the cobblestone ground as well with a colorfully speckled soft insulation material that transformed the space into a hyper saturated cubicle. Considering the tiny confines of the gallery itself set within a high traffic public space the level of public engagement with the work was any artist’s dream. It was pure joy watching kids stomping and rolling around on the carpeted ground, people taking selfies in the space, and passersby coming back to peek into the space three or four times like moths drawn to a rainbow flame.

 

ANTE. Can you walk through how your work has evolved? How did your education in the art field evolve and what mediums do you work within?

KH. In a way I am making the same paintings I always have. I was fairly skilled at rendering faces during high school, and I guess the FOMO paintings can be interpreted as a portrait of a mental state. In that regard the largest shift in the work has been one towards abstraction over the years. Instead of describing an individual the work now comments more broadly on the human condition, the psyche, and asks whether humans are bad or whether they are simply creatures of folly.

I find myself constantly chasing the work, pursuing anything this body of paintings requires. For example I needed to scale up the image to see how gestures would translate at 10’ which was not possible in my first studio, “well I guess I have to move studios and get a bigger wall then.” Each time I take that leap of faith to follow the work and make a big change I become significantly more sure of myself and my ability to make the right decision when it needs to be made. In school I used to think that I wasn’t a serious painter because I didn’t toil over layering and sanding down primed canvases, practice drafting my compositions, or fuss over mixing my paints. I learned each lesson of course, but secretly didn’t care too deeply about those particular processes. Eventually over time all those things fell to the wayside and I realized that they were someone else’s methodology and although it’s cool, and works, it had no place in my practice, so I was able to let them go. I am quite grounded in my content at this point and feel satisfied that it is focused yet will leave enough meat on the bone to sustain my curiosity later down the road. I’ve come to a wonderful point where I am confident about my process, the materials I use, and the speed at which I work. So it’s more or less full steam ahead for now.

ANTE. Work from your Interface series is on view in Burlington, Vermont as part of the “Optimist Prime” group exhibit at New City Gallery. Which works are included in this show and how do they fit the theme?

KH. “Clickbait”, “Double Tapping Moon Vibes”, and “Tumblr Grl 2”, are the three works which are included in the “Optimist Prime” exhibition. Curated by Michael Shoudt, a long time friend and talented painter, the show focuses on gesture and surface in a way that walks the line between painting and object. I’m certain that Michael would dig his heels in the ground and declare that this was  purely a painting show, but to me there is a playful testing of those boundaries and a “who says this isn’t a painting” spirit to the collection of work.

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In the studio, FOMO paintings, 2018. Image courtesy the artist.

 

ANTE. What other exhibits are your works a part of currently and what do you have upcoming?

KH. I currently have four works (“Golden Toupee” (2015), “Filter Bubble” (2017), “Untitled” (2017), and “Versace Versace” (2018)) all from the Interface series included in an exhibition entitled “Small Paintings(ish)” at BS Projects in Houston, TX. I’m tickled that my work made it to Houston before I did.

Along with being a painter I am also an independent curator, and Co-Director of Sine Gallery. We recently teamed up with Light Year and the DUMBO bid to curate a massive public screening of six interdisciplinary artists: Damien Davis, Patricia Brace, Yali Romagoza, Dominique Duroseau, Jesus Benavente, and Joiri Minaya. The videos will be cast onto the side of the Manhattan Bridge Aug 2nd, 8-10 PM in DUMBO, with the best vantage point being from 155 Water Street. I am extremely passionate about this collection of artists and am so please to represent their work in DUMBO, a community which has time and time again embraced my alternative white cube curatorial slant. Huge thanks to 68 Jay Street and Ardele Lister and Steve West for being eternally supportive.

I am also a Curatorial Assistant for Art in Odd Places 2018: BODY and will be helping to organize various aspects of this year’s performance art festival under the vision of Katya Grokhovsky and Ed Woodham. BODY marks the first exclusively female, non-binary, and trans line-up in the festival’s 14 year history and will include the work from 45 artists from all over the world in a four day performance art festival along 14th Street Manhattan October 11th – 14th. In conjunction with the festival there will be an exhibition and public programming held at Westbeth Gallery throughout the month of October.

As far as upcoming shows go, I have a few projects in the works for the studio this Fall, stay tuned.


ANTE. Can you walk us through some of your contemporary influences? What artists are you looking to as you develop your own practice?

KH. I love Joyce Pensato, I love her imagery, process, her use of gesture. Katherine Bernhardt is another contemporary favorite. I look to her as a example of how an artist can glean new sensibilities from travel and blend them into an ongoing work. Poly Apfelbaum is a classic and I frequently look to her installation-based work, her color, and use of commermerically sourced materials. I have profound respect for the trailblazing forms of Susan Murphy, and what she introduced to painting, and can’t help but gush over the sleek graphic refinement of Tauba Auerbach. Along with these giants I have the deepest respect for the work of my peers: Amie Cunat, Denise Treizman, Katie Bell, Leah Guadagnoli, the list goes on.

 

BLACKOUT Film Festival Burns Brightly in the Hudson Valley Firmament

BLACKOUT lives up to its namesake as an undeniably fascinating event.

Taking place on Thursday, July 26th from 7-9 pm at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, the festival is a triumphant collaboration with the Peekskill Film Festival organized by Alicia Morgan. BLACKOUT, curated by HVCCA’s Michael Barraco, features a series of short experimental films navigating the trenchant landscape of gender, race, and various political concerns. BLACKOUT taps into our current zeitgeist of anxiety blended with gradual catharsis to create touching vignettes of our contemporary moment.

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still from Tommy Hartung’s The Lesser Key of Solomon

Viewing political action and staged performance as nuanced facets of identity-making, films such as The Situation by Carmel Collective, Topple by Sarada Rauch and Ditch Plains by Loretta Fahrenholz offer unparalleled access to the psychological topographies and urban landscapes we are forced to encounter entrenched within the socio-political, racial and classist frameworks of today’s America.

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still from Sarada Rauch’s Topple

Meanwhile, Stephanie Jamison’s Sensus Plenior and Tommy Hartung’s The Lesser Key of Solomon explore performative mimicry and the occult as scenarios that touch on the spiritual nature of society. Touching from a Distance by Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere unites this dual look at sign and signifier to investigate mimicry and the reality colliding in protest-ridden Guadalajara, Mexico.

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still from Pagliacci by Livia Ungur & Sherng-Lee Huang

Finally, gender constructs are torn down and re-evaluated in both Built to Burst by Kate Gilmore and Untitled (Women) by by Deanna Erdmann. Sexuality and gender converge in the flamboyant fantasy film Pagliacci by Livia Ungur & Sherng-Lee Huang.

Tackling and engaging with divisive contemporary topics with humor, grace and candor, the films for BLACKOUT shine a bright light on the most pressing social issues of our current moment in surprising, and rewarding, ways. Artists Tommy Hartung, Sarada Rauch, and documentary subject of Paggliaci Rick Cataldo will even be present to introduce their respective films! Make sure to secure your tickets to BLACKOUT before it’s too late; link below.

http://www.peekskillfilmfestival.org/tickets/ 

Cleanse Yourself at DETOX, Presented by The Blue Rose at The Ear on 7/21

 

Oya Damla, The Ear, 2017 still from video by Karl Cooney
Oya Damla (2017; The Ear) film still from video by Karl Cooney

It’s not every day that emerging stars from across visual arts, performance art and literary arts join forces. However, Saturday, July 21st is that day.  The Blue Rose presents: DETOX at The Ear, 255 Boerum Street (#1) in Brooklyn, beginning at 8 pm. Multidisciplinary artists, storytellers and image makers are presented over the course of a single, magical evening. Curated by Polina Riabova, a formative performance artist in her own right, the event features the talents of Kaia Gilje & Mohammed Zenia, Claribel Jolie Pichardo, Oya Damla, Lauren O’Neal, Emily Brill, and Jung Hee Mun over a the course of a three hour event.

 

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Claribel Jolie Pichardo, Performeando 2016 for Queens Museum (photo courtesy the Queens Museum)

With a focus on gender equality and marginalized voices, The Ear is an art space that has become synonymous with ground-breaking experimental events and performances. The evening features renowned multi-faceted performance artist Pichardo, whose interactive work combines performance with audience participation, body-based collaborative performance work by Gilje and Zenia, performance reflecting the body and identity through sound by Damla, Brill’s incisive literary stylings, O’Neal’s thoughtful reflections, and Mun’s explorations on behavior and human aesthetics as transferred through image-making. The first time these creative luminaries are all engaged in a single evening, each performer evinces a unique perspective on social dynamics and the human condition through contemporary art-marking and literature.

Shawn Escarciga, 2017, The Blue Rose at The Ear, photo credit Oya Damla
Shawn Escarciga (2017; The Blue Rose at The Ear) photo courtesy Oya Damla

Featuring multi-talented New-York based creatives in experimental, genre-bending performances, DETOX marks a departure in cutting-edge contemporary arts and literature. Don’t miss your chance to join in the fun – RSVP today!

Prescient Presence: Your Presence is Requested Opens Thursday, June 28 at 131 Chrystie Street

 

Solitude and displacement rub elbows on the confluence of the fault lines defining Your Presence is Requested. This group exhibition, featuring painting, sculpture, mixed media and more, investigates the presence of self both internally, physically and even in the case of absence: the vestiges of self that can linger in the outlines of landscapes, or in abstracted self-portraits. Opening on Thursday, June 28th from 6-9 pm, the exhibit is housed at 131 Chrystie Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood. The exhibit features artists Maria Dimanshtein, Juan Miguel Palacios, Vincent Arcilesi, Arlene Rush, Grace Baxter, India Evans, Junichiro Ishida, Suyeon Na and many more. The exhibition is produced by Arcilesi | Homberg Fine Art in partnership with Maria Dimanshtein.

Aptly identifying and probing the span of narratives that connect figuration and abstraction, the exhibit applies a careful lens to the both constructed and candid depictions of self. One can identify with an event, an object, a location or a particular viewpoint of one’s own persona. Emotional and psychological perspectives are firmly entrenched in the various aspects that artists choose to portray in this insightful group exhibition, on view June 28-30 only (hours 11 am-6 pm on Friday/Saturday.) This exhibit evinces a rare comprehensive look at the range of artistic stylings and approaches in both visioning and re-visioning the self as beginning and end, alpha and omega. Nothing can influence one’s own outlook as much as the mysterious psyche, the hidden depths of self that remain necessarily unable to reveal yet reveling in their surroundings. From the cryptic depictions of Twins by Arlene Rush, to Palacios’ lush, painterly portraiture and Arcilesi’s multi-hued figures situated in ambiguous space, the range of artwork on view is sure to delight any collector.

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Artwork by Vincent Arcilesi

At times alternately introspective and extroverted, the works on view vary widely in style and subject matter while intrinsically examining the parameters of self. Artist Maria Dimanshtein notes that her works include… “use dark colors along with white ink and shiny textures to incorporate my poetic writing into my visual [art].” Dimanshtein notes that her art probes many subjects, including, “anxiety of freedom vs. comfort of the mundane [and] a yearning for a divine power.” The works prove as impactful as their meanings are elusive, with the artists mostly monotone compositions combining with text to provoke dizzying and at times discomfiting narratives.  .

With works by over twenty artists on view in Your Presence is Requested, Arcilesi | Homberg has assembled a dazzling breadth of viewpoints examining the human psyche. On view for three days only, this not-to-be-missed exhibit connects the threads of self-examination present in the works of world-renowned artists working across the spectrum of contemporary art practices.  Arcilesi | Homberg sees their focus as forging innovative pathways in the world of contemporary art, noting that they “challenge conventional fine art parameters”. Your Presence is Requested goes a long way to showcase these efforts.

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Artwork by Maria Dimanshtein

 

The exhibition opening on Thursday, June 28 from 6-9 pm features music compliments of DJ Danny Glover along with wine. The exhibit at 131 Chrystie is in the heart of Manhattan’s buzzy Lower East Side gallery district, easily accessible from the J/Z trains at Bowery station or the 6 train at Spring Street.  The artwork on view spans a variety of artistic mediums, and artists will be available in person to discuss their works and specific processes.

For additional questions, concerns and for extra visuals please contact Francesca Arcilesi (francesca@aha-fineart.com), Norma Homberg (norma@aha-fineart.com) or Maria Dimanshtein (mdimanshtein@gmail.com)

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Artwork by Juan Miguel Palacios

ZIEMIA Introduces a Whole New World to Greenpoint’s McGorlick Park

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Opening Day of “Ziemia” at McGolrick Park with the artist revealing the sculpture in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (image credit Izabela Gola)

Ziemia has arrived at McGorlick Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and with it a world of experiences, memories, dreams and hopes.

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Polish Cultural Institute New York Director Anna Domanska introducing “Ziemia” at McGolrick Park

The project, created by artist Martynka Wawrzyniak in partnership with support from the Polish Cultural Institute New York, is a rounded, organic sculpture incorporating soil samples from across the world in an orb-like shape to represent the multi-dimensional fabric of our human tapestry across the globe. Spanning from the US across Asia and Europe, the artist has spent years creating this project – now on view through June 2019 in Greenpoint’s own McGolrick Park! The first public art project in the park in decades, Ziemia symbolizes hope that we can live side by side as co-stewards of our planet.

In particular, the project embodies dual concepts of migration and establishing new residencies/homes. The soil itself has traversed time zones and latitudes in order to create this pivotal sculpture, which has subsequently made its own home in the meadow of McGolrick Park. Polish Cultural Institute of New York (PCINY) director Anna Domanska notes of the project, “When Martynka Wawrzyniak came to us with her project, we knew it was the best canvas to tell the story of Poland and the Poles, who through the ups and downs of history found their new place on earth in the United States, but in a broader sense, portraying issues shared by many nations and cultures in a global context.”

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“Ziemia”, at McGolrick Park, Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Photo credit Weronika Kwiatkowska.

Domanska continues, “After all, the idea of the project refers to universal questions of the meaning of emigration, of roots, having a home and losing one, finding one’s identity in new cultural circumstances. This project also symbolically shows the strength of the links between Poland and the United States. The Ziemia Project after all is not only a sculpture, on display since June 9 in McGolrick Park, but also all the collected and documented human stories that demonstrate those links.”

More about the incredibly labor intensive process the artist used to realize the project, with support from PCINY, can be found on the Ziemia project website. Ziemia, the word for “Earth” or “Land” as translated from Polish, is a potent reminder of the common bond we share despite the boundaries that may divide us. The project was realized in partnershp with the New York City Department for Parks & Recreation and will reside in McGolrick park through June 2019.

Pushing Ten Years! Culture Push Benefit + Art Raffle Supports Socially Engaged Art Leading Up to Ten Year Anniversary

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Culture Push, an innovative NYC-based nonprofit arts organization promoting civic engagement, is hosting their annual benefit on Tuesday, June 26 from 6-9 pm at the Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand Street (#201) New York, NY. This fundraising event honors Art in Odd Places Founder Ed Woodham while raising funds to support one of the nonprofit’s central missions, the Fellowship of Utopian Practice, which funds artists to create socially-engaged projects across a range of mediums and with a variety of audiences in mind. Tickets are still available here – there’s still time to join in and be a part of innovative and experimental social practice Culture Push brings to life! Tickets to the party start at $25, with a $75 option to enter the raffle and leave with a fabulous limited edition artwork!

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Artwork by Chloë Bass for Culture Push benefit raffle

Works are available in the raffle by innovative artists such as Chloë Bass, Caroline Woolard, Aricoco, Todd Shalom and so many more! The Benefit not only continues to support Utopian Practice fellows including Clarivel Ruiz, Chris Ignacio, Kanene Ayo Holder & Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Theodore Kerr, Hidemi Takagi, the Chinatown Art Brigade and more. All artists call attention to the intersection between social and civic participation and the arts. This is a sentiment also advanced by Art in Odd Places founder Ed Woodham, the honoree of the event. Art in Odd Places, a nonprofit arts festival taking place along 14th street in New York City, is in its 14th year and has allowed experimental practice along the length of this public corridor in Manhattan.

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Artwork by Aricoco for Culture Push benefit raffle

Imaginative problem-solving and the genesis of social art lie embedded in the foundation of Culture Push’s mission. Flexible, responsive and avant-garde, Culture Push is celebrating its ten-year anniversary of producing innovative art projects in public for a wide audience. Founded by Clarinda Mac Low, Aki Sasamoto and Arturo Vidich, the founders have mined their respective backgrounds in visual and performing arts to create a platform for artists engaging with creative expression within the public context. Come and attend the Culture Push benefit, win a great artwork, meet inspiring artists and celebrate what is almost ten full years of experimental public art – with many more to come!

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Fellow for Utopian Practice Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow

 

 

 

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.

1 - Intricate Neighbors II curated by Jamie Martinez at Galerie Protege.JPG.JPG
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.

Intricate Neighbors at The Border project space curated by Jamie Martinez (1).JPG
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.