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Each to Each

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

~ T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

We first encountered mermaids this week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on zoom when ART YARD Artist Jane Huntington presented Reflection on the Meaning of Water.

Jane summarizes: “We began the lesson with discussing the works of three artists working in a variety of mediums.

The first I showed illustrations by Wesley Allsbrook for the NY Times using what looked like wood cuts/silkscreen method. What made this work unique was that as you scrolled down the page, the illustration was animated with its foregrounds, backgrounds and key objects shifted creating a camera like movement.

Wesley Allsbrook, page from Hurricanes of Data: The Tiny Craft Mapping Superstorms at Sea

The second artist was Raymond Pettibon, who usually uses what looks like pen and ink, and perhaps Sharpie, in his journalistic drawings of surfers and waves which incorporate text. Pettibon lives in Hermosa Beach, CA a coastal area where surfing is part of some residents daily lives.

Raymond Pettibon, Miami Beach, 2019

The third were photographic works by multi-media artist Roni Horn, an artist who returns to water, and it’s environment, time and again, often in Iceland, but not always. The first series was Still Water (the River Thames), a series of photographs of the murky waters of the Thames with footnotes about things that happened there. The next was Pooling Waters, taken during trips to Iceland, where she was greatly affected by its surreal landscape. The third series was You Are the Weather, where during a period of a month, she traveled with her friend Margrét, and from that, created 100 portraits of her taken over the course of the month in the thermal pools/hot springs that abound on the island.”

Jane presenting work by Roni Horn on zoom

Maraya did a short video on her iPhone rephotographing an old family video from when they visited the Statue of Liberty featuring her brother, who died a few years ago. In the video, which was taken from a computer screen, her brother is shown in silhouette-unrecognizable except by those whom he was extremely close. Over the video, Mayara reads a passage from a book that took place in Galvaston (one of her brother’s favorite places). The passage, selected at random, begins with the line “surrendering to the inevitable.”

Maraya Lopez, Reflection on the Meaning of Water

Abby learned to swim in 2019, and is super excited to see Halle Berry as the new Ariel in the upcoming version of the little mermaid echoing the delight that little girls everywhere seeing a heroine that looks like them. There was much discussion on whether the dress material looks like water or fish skin-what do you think?

Abby Johnson, Reflection on the Meaning of Water

Doing a different take on the mermaid Ariel after binge watching cartoons from Gibley, a favorite Japanese animation studio, Eden’s piece features Ponyo (2008, dir. Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli), the little mermaid as a five year old girl who becomes a fish and then eats a bowl of ramen with a five year old little boy. As usual, Eden makes use of her digital imaging skills to great effect.

Eden Moore, Reflection on the Meaning of Water

Ed, greatly affected by water and its innate qualities, did a collage of black and white strips with blue curly swirls laid on top to mimic the water’s motion.

Ed Rath, Reflection on the Meaning of Water

Like Maraya, Kevin’s work in progress focused on family. Drawn from the viewpoint of his standing in water, he sees his reflection along with the reflection of two other family members, whose identity is intentionally ambiguous.

Kevin Anderson, Reflection on the Meaning of Water (in progress)

Meridith painted a watercolor of water dripping from a pot of ferns in her garden. We loved the interplay of light on this delightful, everyday activity.

Meridith McNeal, Reflection on the Meaning of Water

Inspired by the work of Veja Clemins, Jane’s piece is of the waters of the East River, her old haunt back in her days living in the East Village.

Jane Huntington, Reflection on the Meaning of Water


In ART YARD Advanced Studio in person at our studios at BWAC on Tuesday we had an All Girl Band of artists. While people were arriving Candy took the time to bring everyone over to the adjacent gallery to see her work as well as an installation of new work by Marie!

Candy Heiland with her work on display, and installations of paintings by Marie Roberts at BWAC

We then embarked in the first of a three-part series of sessions taught by ART YARD Teaching Artist Golnar Adili who introduced the session telling us that “this series will entail healing by delving into our past, self, and dreams. We will use different methods of letting the unconscious flow such as automotive drawing, finger painting, using both hands a plan drawing of our childhood home, and rolling a dice. In the first session we will use our fingers to paint as a way to start.”

Golnar showed us work by surrealists Meret Oppenheim and Leonora Carrington as inspiration.

Meret Oppenheim, Finger Painting

Leonora Carrington, The Star

Our All Girl Band finger painting!

Golnar says of the session: “Going into fingerprinting our dreams seemed a bit daunting. Initially hesitant to get their hands all covered in paint, I encouraged the participating artists to give it a try. Abby even pointed out that her beautifully manicured nails would actually provide her with a unique drawing tool. I am so glad everyone rose to the challenge because in the end we made magic!

Abby Johnson, Healing by Delving into Dreams: Finger Painting

Christine Willis, Healing by Delving into Dreams: Finger Painting

Naomi Bracho, Healing by Delving into Dreams: Finger Painting

Jules Lorenzo, Healing by Delving into Dreams: Finger Painting

Golnar Adili, Healing by Delving into Dreams: Finger Painting

Candy Heiland, Healing by Delving into Dreams: Finger Painting

Meridith McNeal, Healing by Delving into Dreams/Memory: Finger Painting

The natural flow of conversation and ease amongst the group lent itself to deep introspection and heartfelt sharing. My own dream image collided with someone else’s recollected dreams, and on to another. We found connections emotionally, narratively, thematically and imagistically. In doing so we all had SO so much fun!”

As usual, the majestic view of the evening sky brought us additional joy.


Managing Director Dennis Buonagura shares an important behind the scenes aspect of how we operate at ART YARD BKLYN: “When teaching artists put together ideas for lessons, whether in the school system or in Advanced Studio, they rely on vitally needed 'prep time' - time prior to the class to create a sample piece to show students, develop a lesson plan, experiment with supplies to determine what 'works', double check our supply inventory, create and test timing schedules (remember - our class times are often limited so this is vital), and overall PREPARE.

Fatima selects dozens (possibly hundreds) of images to show students as inspiration and explanation. She creates sample pieces (such as the owl for PS 6, seen here), or a draft for a musical production backdrop (also seen here). Her lesson plans are perfectly timed - especially for classes in schools with lower grades - we need to keep students focused and on target, working step by step.

Prep work by Fatima Traore

I (or the teachers) generally create a PowerPoint presentation of images and art making processes - depending on the availability of a smart board in the school. This requires time - mapping the presentation out to be in proper order of steps, where to include time for questions and discussion, how to make it concise yet informative (and fun!), what images are appropriate for viewing, and sometimes sending to classroom teachers in advance to have students ready for action when we meet them in class.

Evelyn has completed a great amount of prep work for her classes at PS 17. Last week, she made a drawing/draft for the creation of a prop of Baby Simba for the school's production of The Lion King, and executed it in class using wire and plaster wrap. This week, Evelyn created a prototype at home for a cap like foam mask - we listed the supplies needed together, I ordered them and had them delivered to Evelyn's home, and she took photos of each step along the way, which were sent to the show's production team for agreement. Additionally, for current classes at PS 6, she started a piece pertaining to the mer-people lesson.

Prep work by Evelyn Beliveau

Prep time is very important as classes, whether long or short, seem to never be enough time. Our teaching artists need to arrive in class - ready to teach - therefore, time to develop, construct, create, plan, think, devise, and PREPARE is crucial.”


This week, at our partnership school in Brooklyn, The East New York High School of Arts and Civics, Dennis reports: “students advanced in their collage making techniques by going thru many magazines and other types of printed papers to find the right colors, textures, and sometimes shapes.

Joshua, Remastering The Masters: The Scream

Rose, Remastering The Masters, Mona Lisa

Jacob, Remastering The Masters

Anaya, Remastering The Masters

Elizabeth, Remastering The Masters, collage detail

Anaya, Remastering The Masters, Starry Night

Teaching Artist Fatima Traore provided cutting, placement, and gluing instructions and all students moved forward. I'm really proud of the progress Joshua, Elizabeth, Ines, Rah-nee, Anaya, Kirk, and now Rose and Jacob have made. Quite impressive. Rah-nee started a 2nd piece based on American Gothic - and on Tuesday, I showed her a photograph of the models for the iconic painting - she was delighted to see it.

Grant Wood, American Gothic, models with painting, and Rah-nee, Remastering The Masters: American Gothic

Fatima's rolling out a new lesson plan next week once all or most are done with collaging their Remastering The Masters pieces.”


Teaching artist Evelyn Beliveau taught kindergartners, 1st graders, and 4th graders the art of mask making at our Jersey City partnership school, PS 17. This new group of students got to see Evelyn's prototypes of Lion King central character masks up close, mostly to feel the materials and observe the designs. Dennis tells us: “Evelyn created templates for students to draft designs of animals from Africa for ensemble performers, which will be made on shaped cardboard rather than foam. Some students used colored pencils, others used markers, and some used crayons.

PS 17 artists proudly display their work (use arrows to scroll)

Mask hat designs

Simultaneously, Teaching Artist Fatima Traore and PS 17 art teacher Ralph Pyrzanowski applied finishing touches on the backdrop for the stage, using acrylic paint and oil paint sticks. The results are fantastic. I bought S hooks to fit the grommets and the backdrop will be hung during the week.

Fatima painting details on the backdrop

Other Lion King related projects worked on this week were - more masks for central characters (Zazu, Pumbaa, Timon, and additional lions) by Evelyn; assembled hand held wildebeest faces for the stampede sequence; and Rafiki's stick (5 of them) made by Ralph from branches. Ralph also began the process of making the thrones for the lion royal family using found materials.

Hand held wildebeest faces

Evelyn tested coating the foam (used for the masks) with clear gesso - to determine if it would act as a primer and avoid the foam from soaking up too much paint. Since the gesso did not dry during our work day, Evelyn took some foam and a can of fixative home with her to test it (up on her roof!) to see if THAT solution will help. We are open for suggestions here! The masks need to be painted very soon.”

Foam masks hats in process


Students at PS 6, our partnership school in Jersey City, were very well versed in what lies "under the sea" when we arrived - for a variety of reasons. Dennis sums up: “I sent Evelyn's PowerPoint presentation to the teachers earlier this week to give students a preview of our lesson - but these 1st and 2nd graders already have a fascination with sea life, either from nature shows on TV or the popularity of the soon-to-be-released live action film of "The Little Mermaid".

PS 6 artist shares her mermaid drawing

Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau, who is ALWAYS prepared, created a presentation with images of mer-people and other sea creatures as depicted in art - which prompted discussion and excitement. Her presentation featured works from Yosef Adams, Hirokawa Kai, and, of course, Marie Roberts’ Mermaid Parade banners.

Yoseph Adams, Mer Sea

Hirokawa Kai, Records of Things Heard and Seen in Nagasakiand

Marie Roberts, Mermaid Parade banner

Selecting a sea creature to draw is one challenge (with so many options!) but learning to draw the proper body, fins, scales, and is yet another. Evelyn's extremely well-timed lesson took students on a step-by-step journey in creating their pieces.

PS 6 artists share their mer-folk drawings (use arrows to scroll)

Mer-folk drawings

Of course, the first day of any cycle is primarily the drafting stage - pencil and paper and thinking about the colors to be added. And - as always - I learn from our students. I was educated about the lives of axolotls and fangtooth fish by a 7 year old. Jiyansh’s drawing includes lots of fangtooth fish being very unkind to a frightened mer-person.

Axolotls and Fangtooth Fish

Just as we were about to begin one of our critiques, we had a visit from the Wakeman Owl, complete with bubbles and balloons and a happy birthday song, to celebrate Yashvik’s birthday.

Happy birthday Yashvik!

Critique in action




Other Art News

FiveMyles' 2023 Benefit Celebration and Art Raffle will take place on Sunday, June 25, from 3 to 6pm.

Buy a tax-deductible $250 ticket here and take home an original artwork -- which might be by ART YARD Artists Cecile Chong, Meridith McNeal or ART YARD parent Mildred Beltré or another of the 73 artists who generously donated to FiveMyles, and have shared their work with the gallery over the past 20+ years.


Art Book recommendations

The opening paragraph of the introduction of Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men (W.W. Norton & Company, May 2, 2023) reads:

I am not exactly the target audience for this book as I swiftly reeled off lists of artists I admire in response to those questions. Yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it is broad in its scope of artists, clearly written and engaging in style. I listened to the audio version, which worked fine for me, I think a hard copy with illustrations would be the better method of enjoying the book. I hope it makes its way to many a classroom and recommend it heartily!

Joanna Boyce Wells, Head of Mrs. Eaton, 1861

Amrita Sher-Gil, Group of Three Women, 1935

Georgette Chen, Self Portrait, 1946


With less familiarity of the topic, but with great curiosity, I quite enjoyed Dolce Vita Confidential: Fellini, Loren, Pucci, Paparazzi, and the Swinging High Life of 1950s Rome

By Shawn Levy (W.W. Norton & Company, 2016). I am looking forward to discussing the iconic film makers presented in the book with Eden, who will soon be back in Brooklyn after her second semester of Film School in London!


I’ve only just started, but have high hopes for The Mirror and the Palette: Rebellion, Revolution, and Resilience: Five Hundred Years of Women's Self Portraits by Jennifer Higgie (Pegasus Books, 2021) a dazzlingly original and ambitious book on the history of female self-portraiture by one of today's most well-respected art critics. The book’s press material describes: “In The Mirror and the Palette, Jennifer Higgie introduces us to a cross-section of women artists who embody the fact that there is more than one way to understand our planet, more than one way to live in it and more than one way to make art about it. Spanning 500 years, biography and cultural history intertwine in a narrative packed with tales of rebellion, adventure, revolution, travel and tragedy enacted by women who turned their back on convention and lived lives of great resilience, creativity and bravery.”


🎨 📚 💗

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