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“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” John Keats

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

~~~~~~~~ TOMORROW - Saturday July 30, 1-6pm IN RED HOOK!!! ~~~~~~~

We are thrilled that our mural A Rebirth Of Wonder, a directional banner and individual paintings inspired by the Ferlinghetti poem "I am Waiting" are included in More Art of Coney Island curated by BWAC co-president Alicia Degener opening at BWAC on Saturday July 30, 1-6pm. Also included in the exhibit are works by ART YARD Teaching Artists Candy Heiland, Meridith McNeal, and Marie Roberts. There will be Magicians & Mermaids performing from 4pm on!!!

Exhibition preview ART YARD Summer Session (left) and Marie Roberts (right)

The opening is free and open to the public.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We hope you will join us! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our third and final week and of ART YARD Summer Session 2022 was a special one for many reasons! Topping the list was that ART YARD Artists Eden Moore, August Levenson and Zeke Brokaw achieved Teaching Artist status!

Teaching Artists (!!!) Eden Moore, August Levenson and Zeke Brokaw

This is a big deal, and these talented young artists did not disappoint. They worked really hard with Dennis perfecting their lessons, each selecting meaningful topics and artwork as inspiration for their lessons. They made sample projects and wrote lesson plans which prepared them to present their ideas clearly, articulately and with personal flair. Their success is evidenced by the wonderful artwork created in these sessions.

Managing Director Dennis Buonagura sheds light in the process: “I think it’s always important for all AYB participants to understand the process of lesson plan development and execution. While the reasons may differ from my standpoint to theirs, all concerned had valuable input.

Dennis carefully records information about artwork created in class

We never let anyone think that creating a lesson plan is easy. It’s NOT! Just ask some of our teaching artists - even those who’ve been teaching for years. We covered the thought process, finding inspiration, materials, timing (vital!), creating samples where necessary, providing images, and - the big one - how the lesson relates to our theme. Sometimes, during summer sessions, themes are bridged from last year to upcoming year.

Eden, August and Zeke completed excellent lesson plans and were open to suggestions - kind of “constructive criticism” without the criticism - and proved themselves to be terrific with class and time management.”


Eden summarizes her first of two lessons: “On Monday, I taught a lesson using watercolor to represent querencías - Spanish for places from which you derive strength, warmth and inspiration. I was really surprised and proud of the calm aura it created in the room and how that feeling was extended into the use of warm colors and the creation of loving environments, especially evident with Assata and Elizabeth’s work. Even making the sample made me feel more confident in watercolor than I have been in a very long time, and it started the week off on a very positive note.”

Assata and Elizabeth at work

Marilyn adds: “Eden explained her topic “querencia”, in Spanish refers to the place in an arena where a bull might stand in a defensive stance before a bullfight beings. Extending that, the word comes from “querer”, to want. So the lesson was based around a place where we might want to be for strength, for comfort, for peace. We were to find our personal “querencia” and use water colors to create/represent that place. For Eden, her example was a watercolor of beautiful hydrangeas, her favorite flower. Questions: What’s important to you? A place? Symbolic? Sketch in pencil first, then watercolor, sign the piece.”

Eden Moore, Querencia

Marilyn August, Querencia

Zeke Brokaw, Querencia

Meridith McNeal, Querencia

Elizabeth Morales, Querencia

Delphine Levenson, Querencia

Assata Benoit, Querencia

August Levenson, Querencia


On Tuesday August was at the helm. August reports: “We explored the pier of Red Hook looking for beauty in the dichotomy between the man made and the natural. Spending our time outside on the docks, artists learned to respect the balance in our art world between the artificial and pure that we see in Red Hook. Examining the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in this neighborhood, we were able to correctly identify the extreme effect of nature in conjunction to the brick and mortar nature of BWAC and the surrounding area. Many artists took inspiration from the landscape of the river in front of us, while some, myself included took inspiration from the nearby park area next to the pier jetty. Ultimately, our artists created spectacular work, far exceeding expectations as we explored our Planet Earth from our little town of Red Hook.”

Marilyn explains: “August introduced the lesson, citing the beauty of the pier and the landscape/seascape where we are in Red Hook. For illustration, August showed photographs which captured scenes in the Red Hook area after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when many Brooklyn neighborhoods were devastated by flooding. We were instructed to take inspiration from the natural as well as the artificial, perhaps incorporating the local architecture and the beautiful estuary. August encouraged us to think about the presence of man-made creations and Nature as we move into the year of Planet Earth at ART YARD. What is new about today’s lesson is that it is “observational”. It was the perfect day to be outside painting along the water’s edge."

Plein Air paintings by Zeke Brokaw, Sigrid Dolan, Meridith McNeal, Marilyn August, Elizabeth Morales, Eden Moore, August Levenson, and Delphine Levenson (in order of appearance above.)

After gathering materials, paints, brushes, water cups, paper, drawing boards, we headed to the waterfront. Since the weather had cooled, it was the perfect day for “plein air” painting. Spreading out on benches along the path and in the lovely park, there were spectacular views overlooking the water to the Statue of Liberty, NJ, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the city skyline or the tranquil trees and gardens in the park.


Eden was back to work on Wednesday as she presented a lesson on the concept of synesthesia – when one experiences one of their senses through an other – for our purposes today: seeing sound. For her presentation Eden set up her laptop for all to view two very well chosen videos on Fleetwood Mac and Kendrick Lamar.

Eden presents Fleetwood Mac video

Marilyn summarizes beautifully: “in preparation for this lesson, Eden had asked us to pick a song we liked that would be used for inspiration for our projects today. To start, we went around the table and named our songs, comprising an eclectic mix including an old standard, rock-and-roll oldies, and contemporary tunes. Eden discussed “synesthesia”, a condition she has in which she sees colors associated with words and also with people. She sees me as yellow. Next was a presentation of videos about producing music and the art of creating great music through layering of instrumentation and voices. I found it a fascinating prelude to our art-making.”

Molly Willis, Synesthesia (Wonderfully Bizarre - Bendigo Fletcher)

Sigrid Dolan, Synesthesia I, II & III (Bladee, Woodkid and Björk)

Meridith McNeal, Synesthesia (Valleys of Neptune - Jimi Hendrix)

Marilyn August, Synesthesia (Simply the Best - Tina Turner)

Elizabeth Morales, Synesthesia (Pursuit of Happiness - Kid Cudi)

Delphine Levenson, Synesthesia (Run Boy Run - Woodkid)

Zeke Brokaw, Synesthesia (Vice City - GT and Babytron)

Christine Willis, Synesthesia (This Is How We Walk On The Moon - Jose Gonzalez)

Eden adds: “I was so pleased that there were so many compliments to my introductory presentation - with videos on Fleetwood Mac and Kendrick Lamar and how they create their art (particularly Kendrick’s parallels to Gordon Parks). What made my heart swell most was Delphine telling me how great it was to be a part of my lesson because music dictates so much of her life - just as it does mine."


Zeke had the distinction of teaching the class on the last day of Summer Session. That meant that there was a festive feeling to the day as we also celebrated Marilyn’s birthday and wrapped up another successful ART YARD Summer Session with a pot luck feast!

Zeke presents his lesson

Admittedly nervous to make his very first foray into the role of teaching artist, Zeke took an approach I really recommend, which is to start with an artist or artwork you admire. This means there is a passion at the core of the idea that generally translates well to enthusiastic presentation. Zeke introduced us to the work of Italian artist Federico Babina who transforms iconic works of art from Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, to Piet Mondrian by reinterpreting famous artworks as cross-sectional drawings of buildings in his series Archist.

Ferderico Babina, Archist City

Zeke exclaimed at the end of critique: “Everyone surpassed my expectations! I am really impressed with how the work turned out!!”

Marilyn compliments: "I am really impressed with Zeke’s session for his debut as teaching artist. He used Vera’s iPad to present the drawings of art-inspired buildings by Frederico Babina. Based on these examples, we were tasked with drawing a building in the style of an artist of our choosing using any medium. It could be a real or imaginary building or even a floor plan.”

For his sample Zeke drew a Roy Lichtenstein version of the Tokyo International Exhibition Center.

Zeke Brokaw, Archist

In her Then and Now painting of her childhood home in Brooklyn Vera referenced the transitory nature of the work Yukinori Yanagi which uses ants to tunnel through images of flags and money made of sand, as a critique of borders and the symbols of power that separate us.

Vera Tineo, Archist

Fatima, inspired by her recent visit to Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition King Pleasure, created three paintings in this session!

Fatima Traore, Archist I, II, & III

August referenced one of his all-time favorite artists – Edward Gorey -- in his Gorey-esque interpretation of the interior view of our studio at BWAC.

August Levenson, Archist

Hokusai and Van Gogh’s Starry Night both figure into Eden’s mixed media piece.

Eden Moore, Archist

Marilyn decided to use Marie Roberts circus banner style as her inspiration and selected the iconic Chrysler building.

Marilyn August, Archist

Delphine found a way to further explore her signature hand imagery in her Anime character inspired interior.

Delphine Levenson, Archist

Sigrid painted a Monet version of the Brooklyn Museum (I’d say an improvement on the current façade!).

Sigrid Dolan, Archist

Marie challenged herself to approach an observational drawing from the window in the style of Hishikawa Moronobu.

Elizabeth created a mixed media collage a la one of my favorites, Nick Cave!

Elizabeth Morales, Archist

I referenced Georgia O’Keeffe but worked in sharpie inspired by Zeke Brokaw. I learned by my efforts that Zeke has truly mastered a difficult medium. I think Delphine, who I sat near, can back me up on that as she listened to me muttering about the difficulty of the material as I drew.

Meridith McNeal, Archist

A lively critique

It was a fun project, and Zeke was diligent in checking on everyone through the course of the painting time.


CONGRATULATIONS to Zeke, August and Eden on classes well taught!


By Marilyn August



July 25, 2022 2.9 miles

It’s the final week of the summer session—the time has flown by! Another very hot, humid day for the long slog on the subway and bus to BWAC. Uneventful, which is a good thing.

Eden then presented a wonderfully calming class. We had about 1.5 hours to work before cleanup and critique. Everyone spread out and worked diligently until it was time to clean up before discussion which was briefly interrupted with what seemed a veritable monsoon! We all ran to the windows to photograph the heavy rain over the water. It was beautiful to watch with the Statue of Liberty obscured in the distance.

Rain from studio window, photo by Marilyn August

As always, everyone presented different subjects related to the central theme of calm but there were some common characteristics: flowers, coloring, painterly style, framing, religious references, use of Sharpies. Some pieces were figurative while others showed nature or a location that represented calm and a feeling of comfort. Critique revealed the background and symbols for each painting, and Compliments inspired praise for Eden’s well-presented lesson and reflections on the completed projects.

Alicia Degener, curator of the BWAC Coney Island exhibition came by and offered the group Popsicles. What a treat, especially on such a hot day!! I can’t remember the last time I had a Popsicle!

Enjoying our popsicles! That's Alicia behind the bar.

With class completed, we headed out to the bus and the 1½ hour ride home. The storm cleared the air, and it was noticeably cooler and less humid than last week.

Back at the apartment, I was greeted by Gigi, who was eager to play and, of course, eat. We did both—and I treated myself to a good New York pizza.

Gigi the cat


Day 2

July 26, 2022 5.6 miles

The weather was mild this morning for the ride to Red Hook. For leg two of the journey, the bus was late, so a longer than usual wait but otherwise uneventful. Today at BWAC the teaching artist was August who had us working en plein air (outside) painting and drawing along the water’s edge. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it! I set up my little work station on a bench with paints, brushes and water gazing over the water toward the Statue of Liberty, the scene that became the subject of my painting.

I first sketched the scene I wanted to capture in pencil and then began painting with water colors. I was relaxed and very happy to be there—it was breezy and calm. I enjoyed the variety of scenes, not all including water, yet all reflecting the natural environment where we sat outdoors. I think we all agreed that it was a day of calm and comfort, a nice follow-on to the Eden’s previous day’s lesson.

After ART YARD, I made my way from Red Hook to the other side of Brooklyn to visit dear friends who welcomed a new baby boy into their family only 5 weeks ago! Of course, he is adorable, and I had the joy and honor of holding him during my visit.

Marilyn with her friends new baby

Then, two trains back home and a late dinner for Gigi and me.


Day 3

July 27, 2022 4.9 miles

The day started with a cool walk and uneventful subway and bus ride to Red Hook from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. After all the heat and humidity of the past few weeks I was delighted to have a nice walk in milder temperatures.

Eden was back again as teaching artist. She suggested that we think about our song selection and the lyrics that elicit an emotional reaction and translate that using color to tell a story in our art pieces. The song I chose was “Simply the Best” by Tina Turner. Having just seen the Broadway show, “Tina”, the music was fresh in my mind. The song for me is upbeat and motivating.

Christine, Dennis and Eden discuss art

Eden kept us on track with timing, and we reconvened for critique, comparisons and contrasts, and compliments. As always, I was impressed with the diversity of work inspired by the songs and the personal connections to the music expressed by the artists.

After class, I jumped on the bus, then train, this time making my way to Union Square for a neighborhood walk with Ed Rath. He has a great knowledge of the old buildings and the local architecture which we discussed on our walk to 23rd Street. Many of the structures have been beautifully restored over the years, while others have been converted to commercial space, sometimes altering the design especially at street level. Making a big circle, we returned to East 13th Street for a delicious dinner of tasty stuffed pitas at Taboonette. Then it was time to take the train home and to feed hungry Gigi.



Day 4

July 28 2022 3.9 miles

Today is my birthday! And the last day of the Art Yard summer session. 😿

I woke up to find several emails and texts had already arrived from friends and family with good wishes—a great start to the day! After some time at the computer recording yesterday’s events, I was on my way to Brooklyn. After the train to Brooklyn, Borough Hall, I was delighted to see Zeke at the bus stop. It was nice to have a companion for the ride to Red Hook. Once on the bus for a while, I happened to look across the aisle and, lo and behold, there was Meridith engrossed in her smartphone! We all rode to our stop at Van Brunt and Beard Streets, and I went to the Grand Food Bazaar (or What Was Fairway, if you ask the locals) across from BWAC to buy fruit for the lunch festivities. I paused outside the market along the water to take in the last views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty.

Marilyn with her birthday cake!

At the gallery, we had quite a turnout! The counter was laden with an array of delicious food that everyone contributed, including Meridith’s famous pasta salad, fruit, Eden’s birthday cake and chocolate chip cookies, key lime pie by Delphine, guacamole and homemade chips by Elizabeth, and New York cheesecake and cookies from Dennis. A veritable feast!! In addition there was a beautiful arrangement of cards and gifts for me in celebration of my birthday. What a wonderful surprise!!

Zeke presented a really fun lesson! I thought it was remarkable that it was fairly easy to identify the artists that were selected. Zeke was heartily congratulated for his successful debut!

The ART YARD studio after clean up

Some of the bus-riders moved on to an “after-party” at the local The Keg and Lantern, and the celebration continued. We again feasted, this time on tater tots, Buffalo cauliflower, and various sodas and beers made at the brewery. I very much enjoyed the talk and laughter with such a great group. Today was the most wonderful birthday I could have imagined! It is hard to believe that this is the last day of the ART YARD Summer Session. What a joy it was to be part of this amazing organization of creative, warm and lively friends! I’m very lucky.

After the pilgrimage back to the Upper East Side, I continued the celebration with an ice cream cone on the walk home. The end to a wonderful birthday! With gratitude to all.


Other art news

On my must see list is Duke Riley DEATH TO THE LIVING, Long Live Trash at the Brooklyn Museum through April 23, 2023. Riley’s installation of over 250 nautical-themed artworks, most of them fabricated from salvaged beachfront trash, are situated in and around the museum’s Jan Martense Schenck and Nicholas Schenck period houses, which were originally located on the Brooklyn waterfront in the 17th and 18th centuries, respectively.

Duke Riley DEATH TO THE LIVING, Long Live Trash at the Brooklyn Museum


Reminder my exhibition Ordinary Magic is on view at The Galleries at The Interchurch Center through September 8, 2022. Gallery hours are M-F 9am-5pm. If you’d like to meet up to see the show, let me know!

Installation view Ordinary Magic


By the way, you can help support ART YARD BKLYN programs by using Amazon Smile when you shop at Amazon, at no cost to you. You can also donate through Venmo or PayPal. While we are rather adept at getting by on a shoe-string, we could use some new laces! We are so very grateful for your support!


It was a beautiful and joyful ART YARD Summer Session indeed!! See you in September.


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