Thursday Spotlight

Thursday Spotlight: Creating Homes for Plants with Not Work Related

Not Work Related may boast the Picasso of ceramists: Sarah Hussaini, a mainstay Brooklynite, a pottery virtuoso, and a Greenpointers market favorite. (Catch her and her ceramic wonders at our spring market on April 22!) In this week’s Thursday Spotlight, we caught up with Sarah and discussed her fresh Instagram, the “succulent mansions” she creates for plants, and her budding career (no pun intended).

It’s all plants — and fun — at Not Work Related

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Thursday Spotlight: Hyperrealistic Artist CJ Hendry’s Pantone Inspired Rooms are Surreal

Who said it ain’t easy being green?

If you didn’t get a chance to check out the local art here in the historic Leviton building during last year’s Greenpoint Open Studios, here’s a good reason to venture out to 276 Greenpoint Ave before the next one on June 2-3 (Mark your calendars!):  Greenpoint-based artist, CJ Hendry’s MONOCHROME is an immersive art installation where you can wander through seven rooms, designed in high saturation Pantone colors. Our favorite color, is of course the green kitchen.

Follow the yellow dots into a dark industrial hallway to the freight elevator, which will eventually open up into an expansive raw warehouse space that hosts the makeshift rooms.  Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Artist Richard Humann on An Evolving Neighborhood

Richard Humann

I met artist Richard Humann on a Queens-bound G train in the summer of 2015. He was reading a book about Chinatown and I asked him if it was good. It wasn’t, he noted, but we talked and we stayed in touch, sharing our memories and dreams of Brooklyn. He’s traveled the world for his award-winning art, but since 1985 Greenpoint has always been home. While he can’t recall creating any conscious odes to Greenpoint in his work, the neighborhood and its residents have undoubtedly influenced him in his decades here.

When he moved to Brooklyn from his hometown of Stony Point, New York (“I would say it’s like an hour north of the city but it’s a million miles away”) after college, he shacked up on Meserole Avenue. In the years since, he’s migrated a mere block over. “I never left,” he smiles. When he first moved to Greenpoint, Humann recalls that Williamsburg was considered a hotter area because it was more rough and tumble – south of 7th Street wasn’t considered safe. He had shows in both neighbs though, from the Minor Injury Gallery – one of North Brooklyn’s first as far as he’s aware – to Williamsburg’s Pan Arts gallery, both long closed.

He’s stayed put as the neighborhood changed over the years along with the rest of the borough and city. I spoke with him about his thoughts on gentrification, the bad old days, bygone businesses, and what the future holds for Greenpoint. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Artist Hein Koh, Wide Eyed

Hein Koh in her Greenpoint studio, courtesy of Ian Hartsoe

It’s hard not to love sculptor Hein Koh and her carefully constructed amorphous spandex sculptures. Nearly twice her height, Hein’s wide eyed and weeping flowers watch over us while we talk. Her Greenpoint studio feels like a remix to a more extensive, and sparkling, Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse set, a reference she immediately identifies with. A mother to twin daughters, Ami and Oni, the brilliant whimsical world Hein has created explores the innocence of childhood, and the melancholy she faces in her inability to return to such virtuous times. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Louis Fratino, Embracing Tenderness

Louis in his studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Louis Fratino’s Long Island City studio is part of the Artha Project artist residency program. Among the others in the shared studio space, I am quickly drawn to a long wall jeweled with multiple small paintings that hold snapshots of moments shared between Louis and those close to him.  A gentle stretch from an inversion, a simple sip from a cup, two figures nuzzling in bed, the paintings bolster warmth, solidarity, and peacefulness. His works are clearly intimate in both scale and subject. Each supple figure is cradled safely in its tight frame, yielding both tenderness and eroticism. His painting in progress hangs in the center of a paint speckled circle, warmly haloed by the brush strokes of preceding works. There is an intuitive desire to squeeze the juicy feet and bellies of his adoring figures. The dry and waxy rendering of paint invite a closer look into his inventive mark making techniques that create a diverse textural surface.

Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art as a child?

Louis Fratino: My first experience with art was probably my amazement with various illustrations in children’s books as a kid. I used to hoard books and try to figure out how they could make the character look the same on each page. I made my own versions of books as a kid. We also lived not so far from Washington D.C., so I was able to go to the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art which was incredible. I always really loved drawing and don’t remember having a defining moment of figuring that out. It was just always something that I did. I would go through multiple reams of printer paper in a weekend. Eventually my parents noticed and heard from my teachers that I was very interested in art. I took art classes in high school where we had a very robust program. The art room was in the old gymnasium where six or seven people could be working on easels at one time. I have always made work about relationships and intimacy and love. In high school I was making paintings about my siblings, and when I was in a relationship I started painting the person I was with.

Dolphin Street, 2017, oil and crayon on canvas, 30 x 24 in. Photo: Greenpointers

Louis: I decided I wanted to study painting my freshman year of college. I was trying to entertain the idea of a dual degree in illustration right up until graduation. I made a manuscript for a children’s book and had done some editorial pieces. I decided it wouldn’t be possible to go all the way and do both at the same time. There are tons of artists who make publications and do things outside of painting when they’re older that I want to do, but I think right now it just demands too much to try to build both of those careers. Illustration in a way feels harder to me sometimes because you don’t get to just generate your own material. And maybe that’s why I’m ultimately a painter.

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Thursday Spotlight: Kate McQuillen, Meeting Her on the Astral Plane

Kate McQuillen greets me from the driveway of her charming and noteworthy Greenpoint house, directing me into the garage where her fluorescent printmaking studio is set up. Her companion Kassie, a sterling herding dog, is attentively surveying the area and happy to have another to look after. The inherent New York City ankle weights have already slipped away, leaving us to speak candidly in Kate’s kaleidoscopic space. While we talk, the garage door remains open and Kate periodically greets her neighbors passing by. I feel as if I have crossed a portal into an alternate dimension, or at least am no longer in the city.

Kate and her dog Kassie in her Greenpoint garage studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art as a child?

Kate McQuillen: My dad studied painting in graduate school, and during my childhood worked as a graphic designer in Boston. We always had an art studio in the house, which allowed me the opportunity to experiment with literal cut and paste tools like transfer paper. I’d imagine this is what initially pushed me into printmaking. I think of printmaking processes as the perfect place between design tools and fine art tools. I always had a lot of interest in drawing, but was never super into oil paint. I think my new work is taking on a form reminiscent of paintings, but I can still use the printmaking tools I’ve grown to know and love. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Aaron Zulpo, Painter of Narratives

Aaron Zulpo amongst paints in his Greenpoint studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Aaron Zulpo‘s Greenpoint studio is a multitude of raw canvas hung on paint-stained walls. In the middle stands a table topped with piles of paint, smelling rich of linseed oil. His work looks immediately relatable, a style he later describes to me as “Cartoon Realism”. The divisions of brightly colored vignettes create elaborate narratives, enticing the viewer to engage further.

GP: When were you first exposed to art as a child? Are there visual influences from your childhood that currently influence your work?

Aaron Zulpo: I grew up in the Midwest and wasn’t exposed to a lot of art until high school. I was always a doodler, however, replicating imagery from comic books and a duplicated bronze Remington cowboy statue we had in the house. As far as visual references from my childhood go— action movies, bright colors, cowboys robbing a train—these are all things I liked as a child and I still like now. I took art classes in high school and really loved a specific sculpture class. After that I decided to apply to art school. This was the first time where all my classes related to one another. I could be in 2D Design in the morning, and learning about the same concepts and principles in afternoon art history. It was very exciting. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Colleen Blackard Travels At Lightspeed Into Infinity with Ballpoint Pen

Colleen Blackard in her Greenpoint studio

In Colleen Blackard’s universe, everything is illuminated. Her photorealistic artwork is a deep dive into personal experiences—real or imagined—that transcend time and space. Through detailed monochrome imagery created with ballpoint pen, marker, ink wash, or monotype, we get a glimpse into her world, which moves between feelings of pain, abandonment, renewal, and reconnection.

Fate (2014, Archival marker on paper, 48″ x 72″)

“The way I draw is to follow the light… to see where it leads,” she says. For years, Colleen spent long meditative hours drawing circles to capture the inner glow of her subjects and to reveal the light within. “Circles are so expansive. They create more space than you’d expect from a tiny little region.” In a close-up view of her work, you see meticulous coils of tightly drawn lines that make up the resultant photorealistic images. While they range from scenes in nature to portraits, recurring motifs of the sky, water, and a decaying barn manifest an undercurrent of emotions derived from her earliest memory of pain. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Group Partner—The Evolution of the Boob Potter

Group Partner
Images via Instagram

Group Partner, the Instagram darling of the pottery world, has certainly come a long way since their early days at their studio studio on Norman and Lorimer. Headed by Isaac Nichols, the studio has become known for their quirky, iconic boob pots and other equally alluring containers. The pots, designed by Nichols, started out as a hobby that bloomed into a successful ceramics studio business. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Ken Butler—One Man’s Trash Is An Artist’s Musical Legacy

Ken Butler jamming on a shovel guitar in his studio. Photo: Megan Penmann
Ken Butler jamming on a shovel guitar in his studio. Photo: Megan Penmann

Ken Butler’s artwork is playful. Often, literally. He designs, builds and plays unconventional musical instruments, crafting them out of everyday household objects or discarded junk on Brooklyn sidewalks. Through his eyes, an old printer cartridge plus a zip tie is a drum. A golf club is a guitar/sitar combo. His art is sculptural yet not purely sculpture; it’s captivating, conceptual and just pure fun. We were able to tour his studio, hang out and have a jam session with him this past Sunday, on a New York Adventure Club excursion. And you can do the same in a few weeks when he opens his doors again for Greenpoint Open Studios (on June 3rd and 4th, from 12-6pm each day).

Instruments in Ken Butler's studio. Photo: Megan Penmann
Instruments/sculptures in Ken Butler’s studio. Photo: Megan Penmann

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