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Don't you want my autograph?

Updated: Jun 15

Did you notice that AYB now has over 3k followers on Instagram?

FACT: If each one of our Instagram followers donated $5, together they would fully fund ART YARD Summer Session 2024.


In July 2024 we usher AYB Year of Literacy. Inspired by words, text & fonts, and language in contemporary art we will:

  • Hone our oil painting techniques with accomplished painter Evelyn Beliveau,

  • Learn about lyric writing and image making with Jules Lorenzo & Liv Collings artists and Joopie band members,

  • Paint our own skateboard decks with extraordinary skateboarder & painter Dede Lovelace,

and much more!!


Please consider making a $5 donation!

Wouldn’t you feel great knowing that for less than the cost of a cappuccino at Starbucks ($5.95); a round trip fare on the MTA ($5.80), or a vegetable slice at the Original Ray's Pizza ($6.50) you are one of the folks making ART YARD Summer Session 2024 possible!?!


This week in Advanced Studio on Zoom teaching artist, Reg Lewis instructed students to “Do Something…SHOCKING” by borrowing from the fragmented plate paintings of Julian Schnabel to create unique self-portraits.

Julian Schnabel, Self Portrait by a Red Window, 1982
Reg presents on zoom

Reg summarizes: Delphine identifies herself as a dynamic multidimensional “piece of work,” but shows her mending those pieces as she puts herself back together through the healing process of art. Delphine’s second piece (in progress) begins with ribbon-like waves which seem to indicate the various dense patterns that flow beneath the surface of her exterior.

Delphine Levenson, Do Something…SHOCKING

Jane’s two portraits show bold yet chaotic and fragmented brush strokes to convey the turmoil and strain brought on by the very events of the day leading up to our art session. In one of the portraits, hands split her contorted face to powerfully demonstrate the level of anguished Jane endured.

Jane Huntington, Do Something…SHOCKING

Marilyn’s self portrait closely approaches Schnabel’s body of work, serving as the inspiration for the project, her cracked eggshells substituting for the broken plates. The colored fragments combine to create a warm wreath-like aura or else a crown of lightness. That feature is complemented by the serene countenance at the center of the portrait that overall conveys a mood governed predominantly by peace and acceptance.

Marilyn August, Do Something…SHOCKING

Marilyn adds: "Reg presented a challenging lesson, and I was pleased to be introduced to the work of Julian Schnabel. I took the broken plate concept literally and translated it into eggshells, which I painted with water colors, shattered, and glued around an imagined self-portrait.  As always at AYB, it was amazing to see the diverse responses to the prompt. Many thanks to Reg!"


Simone uses the canvas of a paper bag to represent the baggage we must all carry while painting textured robust flowers to suggest our mortal obligation to bloom regardless of the weight oppressing us. The touches of foil represent the presence of trauma which nevertheless is transmuted into a source of light. It feels like a portrait of renewal and perseverance.


Simone Awor, Do Something…SHOCKING

Fatima’s mixed media self-portrait shifts between many textures from spirited collage prints to striking hand drawn motifs to rich painterly touches and undertones to reveal her complexity as artist and individual furthering her risk taking exploration of the portrait form.

Fatima Traore, Do Something…SHOCKING

Meridith’s artwork captures her current emotional state by presenting a view from her studio in Rome during a deluge. The subdued colors create a melancholy scene with glitter enhanced raindrops existing almost as glimmers of hope. Students remarked how the portraits resembled traditional Chinese paintings which were produced with the aim “to capture not only the outer appearance of a subject but its inner essence as well.” Meridith skillfully accomplishes this artistic feat.

Meridith McNeal, Do Something…SHOCKING

Ed’s portrait carries a humor and deceptive simplicity as he captures himself as an armadillo which features the inherent plate covered protective shell. The background colors are perfectly laid to give contrast to his expertly crafted but complex figure who isolated within the frame conveys a slight apprehension yet contentment.

Ed Rath, Do Something…SHOCKING

Sigrid’s artwork focuses on a faceless figure realized with precision and grace while presenting a lively motif on the fabric quite literally centered by a prominent zipper. The overall effect of the subtle portrait reveals both the internal and external elegance of the artist.


Sigrid Dolan, Do Something…SHOCKING

Vee’s ceramic portrait features a black mask surrounded by many broken hands - an ancestral flock almost - seemingly coming to the aid of a community member trying to rise through personal struggle. The piece carries a mystical mood which speaks to our need for spiritual presence and support.


Vee Tineo, Do Something…SHOCKING

I (Reg) used different colors of construction paper to piece together a self-portrait collage that reveals the rough patches and small but sharp abrasions I have accumulated over this academic year.


Reg Lewis, Do Something…SHOCKING

Overall, the objective for each student to Do Something…Shocking led to some surprising and stunning self-portraits. The exhibit for the plate paintings of Julian Schnabel is currently showing at the Vito Schnabel Gallery (on 455 W 19th Street) now until July 26th.


On Tuesday in AYB Advanced Studio in person in our studio at BWAC we explored the concept of making art from memory with ART YARD Artist Ajani Russell.


Ajani explains: “To kick off the class, I presented works of artists that referenced and invoked themes of memory, nostalgia and the passing of time through content, materiality or construction. Artists presented included Pierre Bonnard, Mary Temple, Francisco Souto, and Meridith McNeal.

(Left to right, top to bottom) Pierre Bonnard, Nude in Bathtub; Francisco Souto, Poetica de la memoria No. 3; Mary Temple,Northwest Corner, Southeast Light — Rice Gallery, and Meridith McNeal, Inside Outside Parking Lot Batman (LES, NYC).

First I (Ajani) presented ART YARD Artists with a short exercise to massage their memory. They then chose and object or person in the studio to study for 2-3 minutes then rendered the subject while not directly observing it.

Ajani introduces the lesson

Once geared up for the challenge we created works in the materials of our choice solely from memory whether it was an experience, a place, a person, dream etc. there were many different interpretations of this prompt.”

Artists at work (use arrows to scroll)

Simone created a piece that showed the memory of being held by her mother as a tall toddler.

Margaret created two strong drawings of a dream featuring a snake.


Margaret Hardigg, Drawing from Memory l & ll

After getting over some challenges with the prompt, Skylar created an evocative image of himself in a Kayak.


Skylar Clemons, Drawing from Memory

Ariel's work is equally graphic in presentation.

Ariel Abdullah, Drawing from Memory

Mayana’s gorgeous subtly colored drawing was compared to The Glass House by Maira Kalman in critique.


Mayana Torres, Drawing from Memory
Maira Kalman, The Glass House

Leni shares: “I was really excited when I heard this week’s topic “drawing from memory” the whole day before class I kept on thinking of things I’d like to draw from my “memory”. We started out with a great presentation with examples of artist who’ve done the same in their works. Our first exercise was picking something in the room to observe write notes on and then go and draw it. During critique we all notice we all pick up on different details and how we apply it to our day to day. As well as the emotions certain memories evoke and manifest into our work. 

Lenika Silva, Drawing from Memory
Meridith McNeal, Drawing from Memory
Mich Goenawan, Drawing from Memory

Jules created two drawings of dream memories.

Jules Lorenzo, Drawing from Memory l & ll

Keenan's memories provoke a calm and serene feeling.

Keenan Conoly, Drawing from Memory l & ll

El drew an intricate overlapping design that called to mind fish scales or beautiful henna designs. (image by El Zenaye to follow)

Grace's chalk drawing brought to mind the Bonnard paintings Ajani shared with us at the start of the session!

Grace Webb, Drawing from Memory

Brendan and Christine both presented jarring narratives.

Brendan Welzien, Drawing from Memory

Christine Willis, Drawing from Memory

Ed, Taylor and Hisla brought a smile to our faces with the inclusion of animals in their work!

Ed Rath, Drawing Memory
Taylor Branch, Drawing from Memory
Hisla Bates, Drawing from Memory
Ajani Russell, Drawing from Memory

Ajani finishes: "Some aspects of the works that were enthusiastically discussed in critique were: the emotion in the line work of each piece, use of negative space, framing/ perspective, color choices and lighting."


Critique proved to be a deeply engaging, and safe place to dive into memories and dreams. Those of us will a long history working together were amazed at how quickly and fully our newest participating artists jumped into the spirit of the dialogue!


AYB Managing Director Dennis Buonagura shares: “Another busy week in Jersey City.  I guess I'm now officially a 'frequent flyer' on the PATH train.


Earlier in the week, I was out at PS 17 to sort through work and start matting (thanks to Evelyn who has a kind of "mat as you go" system) and planning ahead for a visitor's day at the school next week.  ART YARD BKLYN’s work will be on display.


On Wednesday, I met with the after school students while Teaching Artist Gia Gutierrez finished up the mural.  Early next week, the anti-graffiti fixative will arrive and be applied to the wall.  So far, everyone has been tremendously respectful of the mural and our students have taken ownership of it so they are quite protective - I'm sure it'll be in perfect shape for years to come.  We all went out to see the mural and Gia hosted a little "artist's talk" with the group.


Back in the art room, we had a very thorough critique about their projects and involvement with the mural - many many compliments! - and ALL were selected to be docents and/or greeters for the visitor's event next week.  I hosted a pre-training session by showing them works from all of the lessons that the 1st, 4th, 6th and 7th grades had done and had them practice introducing themselves while retaining eye contact.  Some opted to not participate - and that's fine - but those who agreed will be perfect.


On Thursday Dennis, Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau and FDU Intern Litzy Duran were back in Jersey City. 


Evelyn recaps: “As we approach the end of the school year at PS 17, students are busy making progress on their second round of Pop Art projects. 


Students in our Grades 7 and 6 classes continued their Andy-Warhol-inspired portraits of their classmates. Last week, they sketched with pencil on 12” x 9” watercolor paper; this week, most students were ready to start adding color. While looking at Warhol’s iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe and other works, we discussed the combination of “realistic” skin and hair colors and “unrealistic,” hyper-saturated colors for accents and details that will lend their artwork the Pop Art spirit. We also reviewed the painting techniques that these students used before, on their still life paintings of ordinary objects, in order to achieve blocks of flat color. Students jumped in with gusto, and their portraits are already looking vibrant.

Grade 1 picked up where they left off with their target paintings inspired by Jasper Johns. Last week, each student received a target template on 10” x 8” watercolor paper, chose colors, and began painting with watercolor, using careful brushwork to achieve crisp lines between each area of color. As soon as their works-in-progress were handed out this Wednesday, students industriously continued painting, and many produced finished work by the end of class. Dennis and I are making arrangements for an art exhibition at the school, and these completed pieces are going straight to the wall alongside the work from the first round of projects! I was pleased to see students experiment with a variety of color combinations—contrasting neon pink and blue; adjacent colors blue, green, and teal; saturated purple and red; and many more.

Finally, in our Grade 4 class, students made great progress on their wallpaper designs inspired by Warhol’s Cow Wallpaper. We introduced the lesson last time by looking at Warhol’s iconic design featuring identical pink cow heads repeated in columns on a bright yellow background. In our class, each student has chosen an animal—including dolphins, birds, jellyfish, dogs, and cats—and begun the challenging but enlightening process of drawing and redrawing the same image across a sheet of 10” x 8” watercolor paper. Some students started out unsure if they could draw their animal once, let alone a dozen times—but they found that with each repetition, the drawing became easier. Many students went on to add color to their pieces, choosing just two colors from the dazzling array on their watercolor palettes in order to emulate Warhol’s pink-and-yellow color scheme. As with the earlier classes, finished works will be spirited up to the exhibition wall, with hopefully many more to follow as students finish up their last week of ART YARD!


 Dennis writes the following addendum: “At last week's ART YARD Gallery at PS6 exhibition opening, I learned that our docent, 3rd grader Hattie Pasuco, was a local celebrity. Every visitor, including Jersey City school board superintendents said "Oh wow, there's Hattie", "Hi Hattie" or "Look, it's Hattie".  I know now that Hattie's won awards for her art, and she was the grand prize winner of the 33rd annual PATH Holiday Poster Contest.  No wonder she's well known in the Jersey City arts circle.  


Naturally, this gave me fodder for the day - each recognition gave me the opportunity to roll my eyes and say to Hattie "ANOTHER ONE? I am surprised no one has asked for your autograph yet."

Jimi Hendrix signature in ballpoint pen on 4.5 x 5 deckle edge cocktail napkin

At the end of the day, the docents and I debriefed around a table before they went back to their classrooms for dismissal.  Hattie was the last to gather up her lunchbox and notebook and I thanked her for being an excellent docent.  She sort of hesitated to get up from her seat so I said "OK, you can go back to your classroom now" and she said, in true celebrity fashion, "Don't you want my autograph?".”

Hattie's autograph on paper napkin from opening at AYB Gallery at PS6 (Highly collectible)

 Other Art news


AYB Artist Karla Prickett has been very busy with art related goings on in Kansas.  Karla writes: “I directed re-installation of The Dream Dragon Bridge by artist Bill Godfrey on a walk bridge into Salina’s Oakdale Park for the Smoky Hill River Festival. 


Bill Godfrey, The Dream Dragon Bridge, 2024 installation

Karla has also been helping out with an installation of public art by now deceased Salina artist, Richard Bergen. Over 20 years in coming to fruition it has been a battle to secure funding to see the piece finally come to be. The artists son Rich will be involved in the dedication ceremony in the fall.

Congratulations to Karla who is now at an artist’s residency in Lindsborg, Kansas!


You are invited to a zine launch at Freedom Hall (a community center dedicated to community and activism at 113 West 128th St.) in Harlem for the project of What’s Not There on Thursday June 20, 6-9pm.


Curated by BerdsCarnival (ART YARD Artist Maraya Lopez) and NYC artist, Ryan Compton “What’s Not There is an experimental platform that seeks to challenge artists to explore ways to decentralize and disseminate their ideas about art and culture, specific to the area in which they live. The goal is to reach audiences in boroughs and neighborhoods outside the traditional cultural matrix of New York City. By inverting our perspective and examining the crevices of our immediate surroundings we expand the cultural arena, embrace our communities and fortify the unseen.”



Thanks so much for your support!




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