A Fresh Perspective
Updated: May 4
Saturday April 1st we celebrated with in person artists receptions at FiveMyles in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Many ART YARD Artists were in attendance!
ART YARD Artist Abby Johnson reviews: “The April 1st opening reception at FiveMyles, 558 St. Johns Place, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was packed with wonderful art, compelling ideas and interested people -- everything one hopes for in an opening party!
I was struck by how well suited the art on view worked the location. FiveMyles, with its gray walls and floor, high ceilings lined with beams and pipes and quirky garage annex is not at all a run-of-the-mill art gallery. The large crowd was captivated.
Meridith McNeal, Inside Outside installed in the PlusSpace at FiveMyles. Photos by Francesca Romana Caputo.
The exhibition begins in the PlusSpace with the art work of ART YARD Artist Meridith McNeal! Meridith McNeal: Inside Outside fills this former garage connected to the main gallery space. Created and curated for this space Meridith’s beautiful ink and watercolor life-sized paintings were perfectly installed. Meridith’s Windowphila paintings give visitors views of different settings from Brooklyn locations, to scenes in Rome! While, a whole spectrum of colors grace the work, I noticed a theme of earthy cool hues. The gallery is also covered in a cool blue/grey tone which may be why the paintings conformed so well. Looking into the PlusSpace at the paintings we the viewers are drawn into what become portals to different locations. Upon careful looking, what I found particularly interesting is Meridith’s painting technique with layers of watercolor building nuanced shades and rich passages which can be read abstractly. She surprises us with reflections and passages of bright white unpainted paper proving that these paintings are very well thought out. A great amount of patience and devotion speak through the abundant layers, while the window reflections bring the paintings a sense of complexity and intricacy through detail. I thought Meridith did an outstanding job producing a body of work for the location while bring visitors to different realms!
The Main Gallery space consisted of a two-person exhibition with art work by Mildred Beltré and Elisa D’Arrigo titled Mildred Beltré and Elisa D’Arrigo: Two Artists. Filling the space are ceramic sculptures created by Elisa D’Arrigo. At first glimpse the sculptures reminded me of the TV series “Stranger Things”, presenting a sense of mystery. Upon closer inspection, the materiality of the work is equally intriguing almost a snake skin surface. I particularly enjoyed the phenomenal line work in Elisa D’A’rrigo’s ink drawing Bud well placed at the Gallery entrance. It raises many questions as it leads you to the rest of Elisa’s work.
On the walls in the Main Gallery space hang vibrantly colored prints, and non-traditional textiles of ART YARD Parent Mildred Beltré. I enjoyed meeting Mildred, ART YARD Artist Sigrid Dolan’s mother, and was fascinated by her description of her process of making and working with hand-made ink. My favorite of her work is FC, a 38 x 50 inch print that depicts a woman’s body using only dot patterns to create the form. This work has an interactive feel. I watched as viewers enthralled by the illusion moved from different angles or distances to better see the image morph. Our perception of the art, is informed by the process of looking. For example, though the print was created with only black and white dots of different sizes, I began seeing hues of yellow and blue in the piece, while my fellow opening attendees ART YARD Artists saw it differently -- Imala Davenport perceived hues of purple and Keith Meyers hues of brown. It was fascinating to see what this particular piece did for each individual visitor viewing it.
Installation views Mildred Beltré and Elisa D’Arrigo: Two Artists at FiveMyles. Photos by Ruby Lindsey.
With an array of enthusiastic visitors, from New York City and beyond, the opening reception at FiveMyles was an absolute hit! All of us enjoyed the variety of art work, materials, and styles – in other words it was the perfect opportunity to discuss art as we view it in person.
The exhibition is up through May 8th, 2023. Gallery Hours: Thu. - Sun., 1-6pm or by appointment and by appointment. I encourage you to go see this exhibition yourself!”
Monday found ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom in a fascinating session titled Perspectives on City Life with ART YARD Artist Jacob Rath will present. In this session we created drawings/paintings that portray life in an urban environment. After a fascinating presentation and a look at art by looking at the work of Yefim Ladyzhensky, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, Richard Scarry and various Medieval artists, Jacob challenged us to use either up-down perspective or oblique perspective in our artwork.
Jacob summarizes: “I began my lesson with a discussion of top-down perspective. Since this type of perspective is common in video games, I spent a minute showing a character walking around a city in the Pokemon Ruby game in order to make sure everyone understood how this perspective worked.
I then showed paintings by Yefim Ladyzhensky, an artist who painted his childhood in Odessa often using top-down perspective. Afterwards, I showed a variety of artists who used oblique perspective in their work, all of whom depicted life in urban spaces.
Everyone made drawings of their city/town utilizing one of these perspectives (although top-down perspective was more popular than oblique). The artworks varied from being idealized versions of their cities/towns, to more realistic depictions that showed things that were broken/ugly/not functioning in the way they were intended.
My own painting is titled "Potholes on 35th Street." 35th Street in Minneapolis is full of potholes. Biking on it is rough, since I'm trying to avoid potholes, loose gravel, patches of ice, and other vehicles on the road. I used the top-down perspective in this piece because I sometimes imagine that I'm in a video game while biking on it.
I am pleased to report that ART YARD Advanced Studio in person is back to making art in our studio at BWAC in Red Hook, Brooklyn!
This session Seeing Yourself in Moss: Mutu-Moss Collage was taught by ART YARD Artist Ajani Russell. We began with a look at work by Wangechi Mutu. Next we looked at images of moss, lichen and mushrooms, which as Ajani explained are all nurturing plants, working in tandem with their hosts to protect and coexist. With this double inspiration we first painted abstracted moss, lichen and mushroom patterns. These paintings were then cut out in the style of Wangechi Mutu’s mixed media figures, to create our own figurative collages.
Ajani describes the inspiration for this session: “In New York City we have very limited access to nature. The plant-life we do have are miniature and highly controlled versions of the plants in the natural world. Despite our attempts to regulate ‘unwanted’ or pervasive plants they continue to persist. We see this in the grass growing between the cracks in the sidewalk, the moss growing on brownstones, weeds climbing up alleyways and in backyards. In light of ART YARD’s recent trip to the New Museum to see Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined, I wanted to draw on her work as the artistic inspiration for this lesson. I saw similarities in the textures she paints into her collages and images of plants and moss under a microscope.”
Denaé Howard, Seeing Myself in Moss (3 paintings in progress) use arrows to scroll
Ajani Russell, Seeing Myself in Moss, (2 iterations)
Meridith McNeal, Seeing Myself in Moss (3 iterations) use arrows to scroll
Assata Benoit, Seeing Myself in Moss (in progress and complete)
During the session conversation flowed naturally. We all enjoyed the company of Denaé's Studio Dog Faithful! We found ourselves sharing, offering advice, delving into deep topics and ultimately supporting each other in this very special community of intergenerational artists.
Spring has sprung in East New York - 65 degrees and sunny and the students of The East New York High School of Arts and Civics were blooming with art-making.
Dennis writes: “Teaching Artist Fatima Traore is developing a new lesson to begin after the school's Spring break - but she worked closely with students on Tuesday to finalize several pieces.
Joshua and Elizabeth finished their portraits and began their variations of The Great Wave. Joshua's is an eyeball with a wave reflecting in it.
Kurt continued with skin tones on his Kehinde Wiley portrait and Inez put all finishing touches (including the towel in her piece - which was a source of great indecision for her as she wanted perfection!!) on her bathtub scenario reflecting a Great Wave.