Sara Radin is a writer and curator living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Full time, she is the Youth Culture Editor for WGSN. Outside of work, Sara is the co-founder of It’s Not Personal and she has previously curated 20+ events including workshops, pop-up exhibits and more in New York, Los Angeles, Montreal and London.
Recently, Sara and I met to discuss her work in today’s political climate, and about her current project, a growing anthology and collective that creates opportunities for women to share their dating experiences in a positive environment.
Greenpoint Hill presents their second exhibition, later, works by Isaac Arvold, which opens tonight! We interviewed Greenpoint Hill’s Kim Brown when she first opened the gallery and retail shop on Freeman Street, and for this week’s Thursday Spotlight we’re showcasing Isaac Arvold, whose exhibited works are the harvest of a month-long artist’s retreat on a rather secluded beach in Costa Rica.
“I wanted to get away, be alone, and just make art,” says Isaac Arvold. “I think I was getting distracted in New York at the time and I wasn’t owning my craft. In my luggage I packed 2 pairs of shorts, 2 tops, sandals, a significant amount of ink accompanied by paper. Lots of paper. My favorite paper. 1,400 sheets of paper. I made my little beach office cabana out of drift wood and various fallen palm fronds. I would strip my bed sheets from my bed bring them to the beach with me and tie the corners to upright sticks which would give me sweet beautiful shade during the day.”
Sometimes working his Brooklyn studio, Arvold will feel the pressure of not having enough time to work on something or not be able to resume right away the next day. That was not an issue on the beach in Costa Rica.
Heather Garland has been making art in Greenpoint since 2005, and as an artist she’s evolved alongside the neighborhood’s own transformation. Garland, a graduate of Pratt Institute, is a skilled and talented painter who blends her classic art background with the world of found objects.
Garland is fascinated by the functionality of objects and how their value changes when you consider their worth solely as art pieces. She mentioned an example: the bowl you place your cereal in literally feeds you, while an artistic bowl you might hang on a wall will feed your soul. Initially she started exploring painting on plates as a way to give herself a break from doing larger scale paintings.
Garland’s first plates were done quite fast, as a way to get a quick hit of satisfaction as she pursued pleasure through making artwork. Now her plates tend to be more intricate. Following this pursuit of pleasure coupled with her intellect, Garland assigns these plates a deeper value than their inherent functional one.
The titles of her works add a layer of meaning to the plates—like Abortion, a flower-like, fringe-infused plate artwork that is a part of the Nasty Woman exhibition at Knockdown Center (52-19 Flushing Ave.), curated by Garland’s friend, Roxanne Jackson.
This keyboard is a piece of shit. That may sound like something your coworker would mutter but, in this instance, it is the title of artwork by Greenpoint-based artist Stephen Eakin.
To begin exploring Eakin’s artwork on simple terms, he focuses on sculptural pieces made of found objects then combined with his own woodworking. These works explore the meaning of objects, how they gain that meaning and why a viewer should pay more attention to one item over the other. Influenced by the Shakers’ transcendent connection with creating objects, Eakin’s work plays on the dichotomy that this hand-crafted furniture simply becomes a place to put another object. In this case that object is often a more manufactured, found item that has indiscriminately been assigned greater value. These hand-crafted creations made by Eakin himself become the frame or even pedestal of a found object such as a sweatshirt or baseball cap. This will leave you, as a viewer, to decide which object you assign more value to, which of these is the true “work of art”?
We recently caught up to talk about “going pro”, VHS dork cliches, and podcasts.
Greenpointers: You’ve shot music videos for musicians like Motez and Future Islands but also shot commercials for Lean Cuisine and J. Crew… personally, I really like both categories of your work. But I wonder if it feels differently for you? I imagine the budgets are much different for independent bands versus corporate clients but does it feel differently to you, like, is one work and one passion or are you making films and videos, professionally, and is that all that really matters?
Jay Buim: Regardless of what the project is, I can’t commit myself to it if there isn’t an aspect that hooks me in. I seem to completely throw myself into whatever project I am working on, and all that focus and stress and work wouldn’t be worth it if there wasn’t something about it that made me feel like I had to make this, this story needs to be told and I think I am the person to do that. There is so much constant conflict and self doubt to get things made that the only thing to power through it is enthusiasm. If you don’t have that, you are just wasting time. An added bonus of doing commercial work is that it allows you to take on projects where lack of budget isn’t a roadblock.
I was first introduced to multi-media artist Christine Gedeon through her site-specific installation at the new Greenpoint events space Dobbin St. and soon learned her wealth of work includes complex sound installations referencing her Syrian heritage and family, stitched cartography, and celebrity “blueprint drawings.”
We recently discussed her process and approach when working in these various mediums, specifically her relationship to Syria and her family there during this now 5-year civil war. We also talk about Greenpoint, naturally, and how it reminds Gedeon of mid-90s Prague.
Greenpointers: What is you favorite thing about Greenpoint?
Christine Gedeon: What I love, especially about Greenpoint are the low buildings, the light, and the mix of cultures. The Polish community that was of course more present in the 90s and earlier, also for me had it’s charm, as I was living in Prague in 1996-97 and felt immediately comfortable in Greenpoint. If there had been a better connection to public transportation, I probably would’ve stayed there, but then again, so would many others, and that would’ve made it lose it’s character…
You were born in Aleppo, Syria, and raised in New Jersey… Can you tell us about the inception and process to create your work Syria..as my mother speaks… The 5-year civil war there is just devastating… can you give us some insight to the country and culture and how that fits into your work and everyday identity?
Yes, well, seeing what was happening as the war started, and how affected I was by it, I felt compelled to do a piece that had a more personal story, than what one was just hearing on the news… We left Aleppo in the 1970s when I was three years old, and moved to the U.S, for no other reason than my parents getting divorced, and there were more opportunities [in the U.S.] for my newly divorced mother. It was quite easy to move to the U.S. as Jimmy Carter was president, and my uncle sponsored us, so we obtained our green card right away, and became citizens some years later.
Superchief is a bi-coastal gallery, with locations in LA and here in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in the back of Tender Trap on Greenpoint Ave… And it seems like they’re constantly hosting exhibitions of trippy artwork and extreme artists.
We recently caught up with Ed Zipco, co-founder of Superchief, to chat about the weird nature of the art world, what it’s like to live between two coasts, and who exactly buys the weapons and art cars Superchief exhibits.
Greenpointers: With two gallery spaces and a seemingly constant rotation of exhibitions, how do you keep all of this going? How do you stay organized?
Ed Zipco: Yup, we’re proudly working non-stop. We like to keep it moving, we like to see new stuff, and there are so many artists killing it right now, we’re hooked and working on it 24/7.
The length of exhibitions in Greenpoint always varies… this last show with DiMoDa for instance, which features Oculus Rift goggles that visitors can wear and giant wall to wall projections, will be up for nearly a month; while recently we had a few different opportunities pop up at the same time, so we did 4 separate art shows in a single week.
Ted McGrath is originally from the Philadelphia area but has become a Brooklyn fixture over the last decade plus. He has exhibited works at institutions like Cinders Gallery, Calico, and Black Ball Projects and he’s performed music under the moniker The Flag in venues like Death By Audio, Silent Barn, and Shea Stadium to name a few.
You may recognize him from behind the bar at The Diamond though he now works full-time as an art director for MTV, while working nights and weekends in his studio, a small but sunny room in a factory building next to the Pulaski Bridge.
I recently stopped by for a visit to see his latest work, some of which was created for a solo exhibition at Current Space in Baltimore.
Greenpointers: You use a large mix of mediums in your work: oil, spray paint, house paint, graphite, crayon… How does your process unfold? Do you give yourself any parameters in regards to your mediums?
Ted McGrath: Parameters, no, not really. I’m primarily trying to set up as many moments of engagement or conflict as possible between myself, the materials, and the surface. Frequently changing up the materials, layering them quickly, trying to get something unexpected happening so that I’m completely focused and totally off balance at all times. A series of planned crises, I’m mopping one up while staging the next.
Some of your work is very abstract while some works are iconic and graphic, eg. representations of figures or objects like “Sphynx” or “Fantastic Black Police Car”… What inspires you? Do the more abstract works come from a different area of your imagination than the more figurative works?
It all comes from the same place, definitely, and I think the most successful pieces are those where things get kinda blurry. I work from a constantly expanding sort of lexicon or repertoire of forms and gestures, the ones that really sing are the ones that end up in combinations that are surprising even to me. I’ve lately been a little more excited by the more figurative end of that spectrum, letting more editorial or narrative suggestions in. But that said, it’s like they’re actors, this or that shape or gesture that recurs isn’t always playing the same role or delivering the same lines in every painting.
Karen Marston – Demeter’s Wrath
at Owen James Gallery
Karen Marston is a painter focused on the fundamental contradiction of natural phenomena, the pairing of powerful terror with majestic beauty. Her large-scale oil paintings portray this strength at its extremes: tornadoes, forest fires, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions. While many of these events have occurred naturally throughout the history of the Earth, they have also been exacerbated by the influence humans have on the environment.
While thinking about ’90s pop groups, it seems many badass female artists have followed some intrinsic pull to become solo artists succeeding the rise of their careers. From Beyonce and Kelly Rowland, to Fergie and Gwen Stefani, there is no doubt that these decisions are a cultural paradigm of blazing American independence.
This is not just exclusive to the world of pop artists. To leave the bracketed comfort of a known name or branded identity to stand on your own is an admirable example of fearlessness and self-actualization, more than a lofty risk. Continue reading →