Here is the first in a profile series of artists working in Greenpoint. This is an exciting and important venture for a few reasons. I believe there is a lack of substantial platforms for artists in this neighborhood to show their work, to network amongst each other and engage in verbal and visual dialogue. I’m not projecting some utopic vision of the blog launching a discourse between Greenpoint artists and the public, but I’d like this to be a place where you dear readers can be more aware of the creative energy silently billowing through the neighborhood. Hopefully this will result in a show and open studio weekend that I’m working on now focusing on Greenpointers and I would love reader feedback on artists they may know in the neighborhood that they feel need some urgent attention. Email me if you’ve got hints to throw my way! Now, onwards with our first artist profile:
Chris hails from Virginia with an MFA at Rutgers U in New Jersey. He’s been a Greenpointer since the 90’s and has his fair share of loves and hates. After spending a few years working in non-profits around the world (he can put together a show for cheap with museum quality) and showing in various venues for groups show and the like, he is now a committed full time artist. He is a painter by trade with a photography fetish, incorporating images of the dismissed and forgotten into fields of sublime abstraction, suggesting roads stretching towards oblivion under ominously explosive cloud forms.
Imagery found in the paintings stem from an archive of photos with subjects ranging from barns, modern architecture, constellations, micro shots of window panes, landscapes and similar unassuming simple structures. They are used as reference points to launch into a symbolic field of layers and gradations, an artifact ruin of space and memory that stimulate ambivalence and inexplicit interpretations. Tension rises when you realize the painting sucks you into a world of oblivion while simultaneously forcing you to be consciously grounded. It’s a tangible experience that reflects the undulating constriction between the objects in each painting as they dance to meet and fail. As an immobile road recedes toward an oncoming storm cloud there is movement that is destabilizing yet not forceful enough to throw you off balance. Chris enjoys this vagueness that might drive a viewer dizzy and frustrated but it’s an experience that left me contemplating the intentions of the accidental and how fragile and interchangeable our conception of reality and imaginary can be.
But enough artspeak, let’s talk Greenpoint. I asked Chris what’s to love and hate about Greenpoint and what changes need to be made and he brought up some important issues. First, the influx of a homeless population that never seems to be addressed or resolved. He’s witnessed generations of unemployed drunks that live and die on his front steps; dysfunctional, bandaged, unskilled and uneducated with no where to stay and nothing to do. The police ignore them and the soup kitchens churches offer meagerly feed a population that need steady housing and some serious labor training. Second, the population rate is ever increasing in Greenpoint as it is steadily witnessing gentrification. Urban planning and transportation needs to be accommodated whether that means extending the G train (yea right!) or improving the pollution and traffic output that stains this town. There is a nice equilibrium right now where immigrants fuse nicely with the young transplants with speckles of cafes and restaurants situated next to polish markets and pierogi houses and hopefully it’ll stay this way for a while and prevent Greenpoint from turning in a Williamsburg college town.
And what does Chris love about this neighborhood? That’s its no longer a dangerous and abandoned ghetto where hookers smoked cigarettes lounging outside the meat store and drive bys leave dead bodies for him to gawk at, that there is a history that shines bright and its old school beauty stands strong besides the newbies. He’s not too crazy about the stinky slaughterhouse across the street where aimless chickens escape and wander sporadically but it’s a quirk he welcomes whilst haunting his regular spots such as Thai Café, Coco 68, Enids and Black Rabbit.
Chris is a blogger and you can hear him rap poetic here and check out his work here.