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Art practice that nurtures the collective

Updated: Jan 13

2024 has arrived for us at ART YARD BKLYN steeped in artmaking and intellectual exploration!  In this first recap of the new year AYB artists share their ideas about our process, experiments into new materials, latest artworks, and exhibitions we have found inspiring.


For our first AYB Advanced Studio on Zoom for 2024, ART YARD Artist Golnar Adili presented the deeply intriguing work of Marlene Dumas. Thus inspired, and armed with a great demonstration from Golnar of wet-on-wet watercolor technique, we created self-portraits.  

Golnar presents the work of Marlene Dumas on zoom

Marlene Dumas, The Sound of Life, installation view

Golnar summarizes: “After introducing Marlene Dumas’ work we set out to do wet-on-wet watercolors, using non-realistic colors and letting the path the paint takes determine the outcome. This was to take advantage of layering and transparency that this medium provides. The outcome was really sweet especially because I heard Ed and Karla say they are not accustom or adept in watercolor and Meridith and Assata commiserated that they have issues with self-portraits.


Kevin did the most surreal portrait with shifting purple and yellow.

Kevin Anderson, Self Portrait, wet-on-wet watercolor

Quentin compliments: “I love Kevin’s choice of colors! It looks exactly like him. He managed to harness the light in such an interesting manner.”


Assata looked at us straight in the eye it pierced right through.


Assata Benoit, Self Portrait, wet-on-wet watercolor

I (Meridith) love the bold, self-assured confidence of Assata’s self-portrait!


Quentin echo’s my thoughts: “Assata’s portrait is very strong and bold!”


Assata texts a few days later: “Golnar’s lesson really inspired me! I’m in the self-portrait bag now.” Sharing two new pieces:


Assata Benoit, Self Portrait 2 & 3


Marilyn’s painted portrait was the loveliest wash of oranges and reds.

Marilyn August, Self Portrait, wet-on-wet watercolor

Quentin comments: “Marilyn’s painting looks JUST like her and I love how soft and subtle it is.”


Marilyn replies: “You made my day! Thanks to you and Quentin. 😻”


Meridith did five!

Meridith McNeal, Self Portraits (1-5), wet-on-wet watercolor

“What struck me (Meridith) during critique is that in my last painting, I look like my beloved mentor Claudine Brown! I mentioned this to the group. Golnar asked that I talk a little bit about Claudine. It was very moving to share the support and guidance Claudine provided.”

The brilliant Claudine Brown

Quentin interjects: “OMG you DO! I’m thankful for Claudine - as she was able to be (for you) who you are for many of us. I love them ALL.”


Richie only used black and white.

Richard Lee Chong, Self Portrait, wet-on-wet ink

Richie explains: “I 'painted' using India ink and lighter shades were ink diluted with water. And the approach itself was to depict transience with the 1000 yard stare with the focus on major details & values.”


Quentin compliments: “Richie’s looks like a vintage photograph, pretty amazing.”


Richie replies to Quentin: “TY, I'm quite flattered!”


Ed’s portrait keeps the eye hooked with his skeptical expression not to mention the hot pink background color and the lovely layering.

Ed Rath, Self Portrait, wet-on-wet watercolor

Assata reflects: "Ed’s painting is very bold & eye catching. The hair gradient mirrors his own almost exactly."


Karla, ART YARD Collage Artist Extraordinaire, created a fabulous portrait.

Karla Prickett, Self Portrait, wet-on-wet watercolor

Karla writes: “Big thanks to Golnar for the encouragement to create a self-portrait in watercolor.  The demonstration of preparing the paper's surface and applying color with the wet-on-wet technique was so helpful and definitely relaxed my apprehension and reservations which were based on a very prescribed order for applying, working with,  and controlling watercolor. Thus, I had never really experimented with the medium. The portraits were so interesting and really captured the essence/personality of each artist! I have yet to decide whether my piece is finished or will go further...I'm so tempted to add an element of collage!!!!  Great works everyone!!!”


Assata points out: “Karla’s portrait looks like David Bowie!”


My own (Golnar) captures the melancholy I have been experiencing in light of current world events.

Golnar Adili, Self Portrait, wet-on-wet watercolor

Assata responds: “The lighting in Golnar’s portrait is beautiful - it looks candle lit.”


Quentin adds: “Golnar’s work is really haunting and so very striking.”


 While they did work wet-on-wet, Vee chose to create their self-portrait in clay!

Vee Tineo, Self Portrait, wet-on-wet clay

Quentin says: "Vee’s work also looks like them and I love their versatility with different materials."



AYB Advanced Studio in person in our studio at BWAC had the pleasure of working with ART YARD Artist Vee Tineo as we expanded the reaches of our theme for the year to Do Something COLLABORATIVE.

Vee presents the lesson

Vee summarizes this amazing session: "This Tuesday, we all ate an amazing  vegan macaroni and cheese as we gathered around my lesson on artists who collaborated. Thanks to Sigrid, there was a clear direction in knowing whom she wanted to collaborate with, Meridith and Ed.  I joined forces with Mildred, aiming to delve into an art practice that fosters collective creations—a piece that transforms individual ownership and belongs to a collective decision-making process.


Sigrid, Meridith, and Ed embarked on a collaborative journey, creating a large portrait capturing the essence of last year's holiday dinner. Each artist reproduced and represented individuals present at the dinner, offering unique perspectives through their artistic lenses. Beyond the brilliant conceptualization, the use of Sumi Ink added depth and variety to the portrait, fulfilling the composition.


Sigrid Dolan, Meridith McNeal, Ed Rath, Remembered Portraits (Locanda Vini e Olii)

Meanwhile, Mildred and I (Vee) focused on the process and approached the paper without a predetermined concept. Our starting point was the line, providing us access to the entire composition. Reproducing hands and body parts, we experimented with different strokes of ink and graphite. Drawing from our background in Printmaking, we introduced texture through indirect printing (rubbing the floor). Our pieces exuded a sense of movement as we navigated around the composition, avoiding the creation of isolated segments.

Mildred Beltre, Vee Tineo, Starts with an Arc

These collaborations resulted in a unified work, a collective creation that transcends individual contributions despite being made by a diverse group of artists."

Critique in action


Other Art News

Evelyn has been busy in their studio, reading and looking at art! They report: "Here is my latest painting (featuring my little sister!) plus a studio wall shot"

Evelyn is currently reading The Story of Art Without Men and rereading Just Kids. Both of which I (Meridith) also quite enjoyed and recommend!:

Finishing up with "fav show I've seen recently is Martyn Cross at Marianne Boesky Gallery.":


Richie shares: “The link that I sent is my final project that I was able to come up with for the Multimedia/2D Animation class for Brooklyn College. It was Self Directed, & animated by drawing in Photoshop using the Timeline feature & edited in Premiere Pro. The project was animatics for the main character introduction scene to my original series, Among Shadows.”

Richard Lee Chong, Among Shadows (still)

Ed tells us: “I don't usually make a lot of New Year's resolutions, but this year was different.  Between leaving my day job as a project manager and undergoing a total knee replacement, I felt lost and anxious.  Insomnia added to my listlessness - I couldn't focus on anything.  When my gallery scheduled my next solo show for November of 2024, I knew I had to get it together now


While going through my inventory I discovered some long forgotten drawings which were never translated into paintings.  They work thematically with some smaller pieces I transferred to canvas several weeks ago, so I set forth the painstaking process of inking them in to facilitate blowing them up onto large canvasses.


Ed Rath, Drawings


The first two days of January were spent developing two of these drawings into a diptych. Final dimension of the painting, The Great Struggle, will be 40" x 132."   The next day I inked in, Country Livin', which will be painted on a 44" square canvas.  On Thursday I met with my friend Michael who shot video of the Dumbo waterfront for possible use in the final edit of the video he made of my recent show, In the Eye of the Beholder, at the Homer Center for the Arts, in Homer, New York.


On Friday, Rachel and I went to see the Manet/Degas show at the Metropolitan Museum. For painters of my generation, under the spell of Early Modernism, these two giants were a major influence.  Having studied many of the seminal pieces for years, it was refreshing to see them in a well curated show which compared and contrasted the two artists' imagery and ideas with their personal relationship as artists.  The show also featured some major works I have never seen before.  Of particular interest were some early, large scale history painting by Degas, and some exquisite portraits by Manet.


Rachel Rath, Drawings from The Manet/Degas Show


I was struck by the fact that, because of their conceptual focus and use of irony, both artists have been equally influential on Post-Modernist painting.  Indeed - their work transcends its own time, unlike some of their more famous contemporaries.


Lastly, Kevin and I conducted our weekly Zoom meeting, where we discussed strategies to be more productive in our work and life goals.  To this end I developed a bar graph of my task list and how it has played out since October 23, 2023, when Maraya challenged us to, Do Something.

Ed Rath, Productivity Graph (screen shot)

Maraya in response to Ed’s report writes: “I’m so impressed with your work and New Year’s resolution!!! I really like seeing the bar graph and wonder if something like that would help me organize my time better. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Happy New Year!!!!”

Maraya Lopez, re-potted plant (from our Wallpaper Refocus...)

Ajani attended a DIY show of graffiti art in an abandoned space in Long Beach.

Photos from the exhibition by Ajani Russell



Kevin made a reflection poster in prep for the New Year.

Kevin Anderson, New Year Reflection

Abriel has been experimenting with oil pastel and made a print for the solstice.


Abriel Gardener, oil pastel drawings and solstice print



Delphine sends over a work in progress: “in my mind our world has been shadowed over humans and the darkness they reflect on the world around them, A world away shows what our world could be filled with if we paid attention to the small but beautiful art around us such as color and wild imagination.”


Delphine Levenson, A World Away (in progress), colored pencil and graphite

Blaze shares “a pair of sunglasses that I made, they have to miniature cars glued to the sides. ⭐️”

Blaze Sirius-El, Sunglasses



Reg recounts: “Over the winter holiday break, I had the fortune to travel to Los Angeles for vacation. While there, my wife and I visited three of the area’s major museums: The Broad, The Getty Center, and LACMA.  I had the fortune to be immersed within the frames of so many wonderful works by a diverse range of artists; I internalized such a vast array of content and form. The experience definitely enriched and broadened my own frame of reference. I am sure to have some inspired lessons for the upcoming spring semester at ART YARD.

Reg Lewis, Photos from Los Angeles (use arrows to scroll through images)



Ardelia has been hard at work in the studio!! “This piece I am working on is a part of a painting series of Jazz musicians in surrealist settings. The subject matter of my work expands through the ideology of the “American Dream”. What it means to achieve the “American dream, identity, and imagination within the black American experience. This one in particular is Joyce Bryant who is a civil right activist, jazz artist and singer.”

Ardelia Lovelace, American Dream: Joyce Bryant (in progress)

Iviva's work is included in Center for Book Arts member show opening next week. And she adds that she got the NYSCA Grant to make artist books about women’s herbal medicine. “That’s my current big art news!”


Iviva Olenik, Local Health and Dye Plants Book (page detail)

I (Meridith) am over the moon to report that 2024 is shaping up to be my year of museum exhibitions! My work is included in Art of the Word at the Sasse Museum of Art in Pomona, CA, with a catalogue in production as I write.

Last weekend I was in Philadelphia, with my father, cousin Rob, friend Karen and Christine for the opening of AMPLIFIED Art Music Power! It is quite an exhibition, beautifully installed and moving on view at The National Liberty Museum through April 8, 2024.


Images from AMPLIFIED, including one of my dad, Claude!



Happy New Year, indeed!


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