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Fun, but not easy.

Updated: Jul 16, 2022

People often quip that our work looks like so much fun. Implicit in that assessment is a sense that fun equates to easy.

Yes, what we do is fun, really fun! However, it is far from easy. All of you art makers know how much work goes into every single piece you make. Just as challenging as making the work, is the effort it takes to present, exhibit, promote and teach about art. The conundrum is that if you do those things well they seem to be invisible to many people.

Sigrid Dolan, Dennis Buonagura, Eden Moore, Jacob Rath and Maraya Lopez at work

ART YARD Summer Session 2022 will not only include mural painting and hands-on contemporary art inspired classes, it is also serving as a training program for the behind-the-scenes work we do.

We have just completed Week 1, which found Summer Session participants curating, installing, and lighting the exhibition, writing and preparing labels, signage, flyers, a press release, and evites for our exhibition Towards A Brave New World, in the Muss Development Gallery at 180 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.

Wall signage designed by Sigrid Dolan

We all took on several jobs:

  • The installation was curated, hung and lit by Evelyn Beliveau, Robin Grant, Ijenna Duruaku, Maraya Lopez, Meridith McNeal, Elizabeth Morales, and Fatima Traore.

  • The curatorial essay was written by Fatima Traore.

  • Labels were gathered, edited, and formatted by Marylyn August and Dennis Buonagura. Cut and installed by Meridith McNeal.

  • A trip to Blick Art Supply was made by Robin Grant and Ijenna Duruaku one day, and Jacob Rath another day.

  • Dennis Buonagura retrieved and stashed supplies in our designated storage room at the start and finish of each day.

  • A three-fold flyer was designed by Eden Moore and Delphine Levenson.

  • The press release was worked on by Delphine Levenson, Marilyn August and Dennis Buonagura.

  • An invitation card was designed by Eden Moore, Delphine Levenson and Elizabeth Morales.

  • Evites and wall signage were created by Sigrid Dolan and Meridith McNeal.

  • Dennis Buonagura kept in contact with our liaison at Muss Development, sharing documents and keeping them in the loop.

  • Lesson plans for art making sessions inspired by the exhibition were created by Marilyn August, Evelyn Beliveau, Sigrid Dolan, Delphine Levenson, Eden Moore, Elizabeth Morales, and Jacob Rath, with expert support and guidance from Iviva Olenick and Dennis Buonagura.

  • Scott Greenfield will make a video documenting Summer Session 2022, some clips filmed by Meridith McNeal.

This exhibition of paintings, prints, collage and video by teaching artists Golnar Adili, Evelyn Beliveau, Maraya Lopez, Meridith McNeal, Vera Tineo, Fatima Traore, Ed Rath, and Quentin Williamston explores the topical theme of recovery and the visions of a changed world, as we bridge our year of Heal and Restore and head into the year of Planet Earth.

Artists’ Reception: September 13, 2022, 6-8pm

Panel Discussion: September 27, 2022, 6-8pm

Community Drawing Session: October 4, 2022, 6-8pm

Artwork included in the exhibition (left to right, top to bottom) by Ed Rath, Meridith McNeal, Fatima Traore, Evelyn Beliveau, Golnar Adili, Maraya Lopez, Vera Tineo, and Quentin Williamston.

Dennis adds: "The 'marketing' group discussed various options of press releasing – and did excellent on-the-spot research. We read the artists statements to learn more about the art included in the exhibition and we all viewed Maraya's video (Maraya sent it to each of us individually and we watched it on either laptops or iPhones). She explained why she selected this video for the exhibition and how it related to Occupy Wall Street, etc. Maraya answered several questions from students about how it was created and how it will be exhibited."

Iviva, who provided excellent guidance for the lesson planning enthuses: “It was very exciting to see Delphine share her idea. I watched her go full circle from an initial inspiration to a fully-fledged lesson. The next generation of teaching artists is here!”

Delphine, slumped in one of the fancy chairs in our (air conditioned!!) work space at 180 Franklin, summed this week up: “I know it sounds sort of crazy to say – but this is SUCH HARD WORK.” I’d counter -- it sounds accurate, not crazy! This stellar team worked so hard this week with amazing results. Week 1 has been a remarkable training ground, participants have learned new skills and have a lot to add to their resumes.

ART YARD Artist Marilyn August, our first ART YARD Artist in Residence, is joining us in Summer Session 2022. A la Janet Flanner’s nearly seven hundred Letters from Paris under the nom de plume Genêt, (1925 to 1975 in the New Yorker), Marilyn reports:

By Marilyn August


Day 1

July 11, 2022 5.7 miles

Every day is an adventure!

I am lucky to have been invited to come to NYC from San Jose, CA, to participate in the first ART YARD Residency. I also have the treat of living in Manhattan on the Upper East in Flavia’s apartment while she is in Brazil visiting her family. A nice bonus is my roommate – the adorable cat, Gigi, who is great company.

Gigi the cat

Traveling to our sessions in Brooklyn is an art filled adventure – there is a Chuck Close mosaic in my Q station at 86th Street!

Chuck Close mosaic, 86th St station, Q train

I had known most of the Summer Session participants only on Zoom during the past two years, so it was exciting to finally meet everyone in person. Meridith invited us to choose what aspects of exhibition production we wanted to participate in. I took on the task of learning the elements of writing a press release and coming up with a draft. By the end of the day, two walls were hung, and the remaining artwork, tools, and supplies were removed to the storage room.

Delphine Levenson, Dennis Buonagura, Eden Moore and Sigrid Dolan at work

I had prepared the labels and statements submitted by the artists prior to the start of the summer session, and those were again reviewed by Dennis and approved for printing. I was also encouraged to chronicle the experience of my “residency”.

Back home, after the kitty and I were both fed, I entered my reflections on the day for these chronicles. What impressed me was the complexity of all the tasks that go into mounting and presenting an art show. I was also impressed by the teamwork that evolved among the participants through the course of the afternoon to accomplish so much in a short time.


Day 2

July 12, 2022 2.8 miles

I can’t believe how the time is just speeding by since I arrived in NYC!

As usual, Gigi woke me up around 5:30 am. I felt like a pro as I hurried to the subway for the trip to Brooklyn for day two of ART YARD Summer Session. The journey was somewhat easier, and I picked the right exit to walk to the gallery on a more direct route. Today some of us, myself included, continued with our tasks from yesterday. Others began new jobs and most of the exhibition was installed. The exhibition already looks good! I enjoyed partnering with Dennis to edit my work, in particular discussing style, phrasing and formatting, those details that make for a polished written piece.

Maraya Lopez, Ijenna Duruaku, and Fatima Traore installing

Robin Grant and Fatima Traore leveling art while installing

Again, I had traveled with Fatima on my first two train rides, and then we parted for the third leg of the commute. Tomorrow Fatima begins a vacation in Maine and will return to ART YARD at the end of the month. I’ll miss her good company.


Day 3

July 13, 2022 4.2 miles

How is it already day 3 of ART YARD Summer Session?!!

Gigi and I are settling into our routine and I am getting better on the trains: Q, L, G—knowing which end of the train to board for closer access for the next train.

It was great to finally meet Jacob Rath today after 2+ years of acquaintance only on Zoom. We all settled into our tasks again; and labels, evite, press release, and brochure were mostly finalized. The time flew by today, and it was time to brave the G, L, Q again—getting more familiar each ride. Made good connections and returned to Gigi, who was eager to play and to eat, of course.

Jacob Rath, Elizabeth Morales and Delphine Levinson at 180 Franklin Avenue

It was a mild, lovely night, so I took a walk on the Esplanade along the East River. I made a stop at the dog park where the small dogs were happily playing and made friends with a beautiful white poodle, Luna. We played ball, and she obliged with a photo. I then happened upon a jazz concert at Carl Schurz Park by the Chuck Braman Quartet. It was lovely sitting out along the river listening to music. What a treat!

Luna the Poodle, and Chuck Braman Quartet in Carl Schurz Park


Day 4

July 14, 2022, Bastille Day! 3.6 miles

Cat duty, as usual. Caught up on emails, chronicles, and out the door for the journey to Brooklyn. By the time we arrived, Meridith had already mounted all the labels that she had made this morning by pasting the printed labels on foam core and cutting them to the appropriate sizes. I am fascinated to see all of the elements that go into a professional gallery exhibition. The addition of labels really puts a polish on the display and it looks GREAT!!

Label for the exhibiton

Towards A Brave New World installation view with Ed Rath, Meridith McNeal

Today we were joined by Iviva and Evelyn. I had met Iviva only on Zoom so I was delighted to finally meet her in person! The theme was lesson planning. I was encouraged to develop a class for a Zoom format since this is most likely how I might present a lesson for Advanced Studio. I started with a template that laid out all the elements that constitute a lesson plan including objectives, inspiration, discussion questions, and more. Using the current exhibition for inspiration, I was able to identify a theme that linked in my mind three of the paintings but found it challenging to describe and define specific objectives and leading questions to open discussion in a class setting. With input from Evelyn and guidance from Iviva, they helped me fill the required elements of the lesson plan template, and Iviva electronically input the information into the template.

Hard at work at 180 Franklin Avenue

To close the day’s lesson planning, we convened in a version of the ART YARD critique, we each took a turn describing the lesson plans written in the first two hours of the day’s session. Everyone received feedback and compliments which validated the work of the day. It was a spectacular first week and I am looking forward to mural painting next week with Marie Roberts at BWAC in Red Hook.


Other art news:

We are thrilled to see that ART YARD Teaching Artist Aisha Tandiwe Bell has work included in IN PRAISE OF SHADOW BOXERS, DISSONANCE & DISSIDENTS: A Pop-Up Tribute Exhibition to Greg Tate, featuring six-foot prints by 24 trailblazing artists whose work he championed.

The event is open to the public: Sunday, July 17, 6pm at Damrosch Park in Lincoln Square. You are encouraged to attend this moving memorial to writer, musician, activist, critical thinker Greg Tate (1957-2021).


You can join ART YARD Teaching Artist Iviva Olenick in supporting women’s rights and health. Iviva is making a series of works mourning the legal life of choice in the United States, and celebrating the ways women create and hold up communities, caring for their own and others’ children, whether mothers through birth or circumstance. She is donating a portion of all art sales to organizations that support critical services, care and healthcare for women.

Iviva Olenick, 1973-2022, 2022, embroidered fabric.


I am thrilled to announce my huge solo exhibition Ordinary Magic at The Galleries at Interchurch Center, 61 Claremont Avenue, Morningside Heights in Manhattan July 20 – September 8, 2022.

Curated by Jennifer Roberts, there are close to 80 paintings on view -- including several large Inside Outside Windowphilia pieces, 50 Magical Things and the cut shaped paper Objects of Significance sculptures I have made during Advanced Studio on Zoom!


It might not have been easy, but it sure was fun!

Can't wait for next week when we will be mural painting at the ART YARD studio at BWAC in Red Hook. If you are joining us, remember there is no air-conditioning and it looks like record high temperatures are predicted. Bring ice water and wear shorts!


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