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Help, Heal, Soothe

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom we had spectacular session with Teaching Artist Vera Tineo who presented Water: A Healing Element in which we explored the concept of how water helps, heals and soothes.

Vera’s excellent presentation included works by David Hockney, Zaria Forman, Katsushika Hokuasi, Margarethe Vanderpas, and Samantha French. (shown in that order below)

Vera summarizes: “I found it really interesting to explore our understanding of water as the collective of ART YARD Artists, equally so looking through the eyes of the group at water as a resource. I was surprised that a lot of people expressed their fear surrounding bodies of water! So different than my own experience with water, this was truly eye opening.

Using very different materials to Illustrate the power of water and it’s rhythmic force Pat used a new brush and watercolor (more details and images further down), Madison oil paint on board and Karla depicted the ocean as seen through a window in a collage of envelope windows and lining graphics and other cut paper on handmade paper.

Madison Mack, Water I & II

Karla Prickett, Water

I loved seeing the work which explored water’s function in our lives as in work by Meridith, painting a Roman fountain, Robin recollecting hot childhood days in the public pool, and Abby envisioning the view above while peacefully floating in a family pool, all of whom honor the beauty and journey water can provide.

Meridith McNeal, Roman Fountain

Robin Grant, Betsy Head Pool

Abbrielle Johnson, Floating

Several artists took a very personal approach -- Zeke recalling his ferry commute to ART YARD Summer Session 2019, Ashleigh illustrating her daughter drinking from the tap, Delphine further exploring her hand/gesture series, Naya reflecting upon her name taken from a type of water and Sarah depicting a verse from the Koran which she translates for us "We are made from water, every living thing.".

Zeke Brokaw, NY Waterway Ferry

Ashleigh Alexandria, Drinking from the Tap

Delphine Levenson, Water with Hand

Naya Jackson, I am Water

Sarah Gumgumji, "We are made from water, every living thing." (in progress)

Vera concludes: "Protecting water and taking a stance to do so is another theme I was very glad to see in work created by Jacob, Nayarit and Marilyn.”

Jacob explains the backstory on his Morandi-reminiscent painting: "Over the summer I attended a water protector camp to protest the construction of Line 3. My painting is of the jugs of water in the shared kitchen tent of the camp base."

Jacob Rath, Water Protector Camp

Nayarit expounds upon her trio of art works: "One of my pieces that consist of the New York City skyline is based on the sea levels prediction of 2100 If sea levels continue to rise based on climate change. People don’t realize that most major city are at a coast region and we can potentially lose our home, our city.

The second piece is about hydrophytes in thinking about growing plants and food only on the bases of water considering that fertile soils are being exploited in many ways and we have to rethink what it will be for agriculture. Both in term of GMO plants to irrigation and the use of water.

The last one is just sharing a charity that promotes and helps create clean water wells around the world, in effort to give clean water access to people as it should be a human right."

Nayarit Tineo, Water l, ll & lll

Marilyn shares her concept: “Living in California for many years, I am accustomed to the frequent droughts when water conservation is required and local water restrictions are implemented. For Vera’s wonderful and thought-provoking lesson, I focused on my daily routine of trying to conserve every drop of water possible. I have bottles and buckets lined up that are filled with rinse water from dishes. This water is essential for the garden, especially during the summer, as well as for my indoor orchids. The lesson was a good reminder for how critical water is to our lives.”

Marilyn August, California Water

In a conceptually layered response to Vera’s session, Maraya explains:I was inspired to work in collage for this piece after reading a recent interview written in Art Forum about the late Romare Bearden. I was playing and trying to convey a sense of destruction by cutting up images. Then, I added a layer of waves, drawn in sharpie marker to evoke a meditative quality. Lastly, my hand was traced in to question my place in the world and responsibility as a human being.”

Maraya Lopez, Water

Continuing to work over the week, Kevin completed two water pieces. He explains: "The first piece is of the water cycle. I used pastels to complete each part, and decided to place them in a circle to show that the cycle is endless, always moving."

Kevin Anderson, Cycle of Water

In his second piece, What Have We Done to Water?, Kevin explains: "For this infographic piece I thought about the initial question "What have we done for water", and then thought more about the effects humans have had on it. Some are more indirect: with the growing concern of climate change, global temperatures have increased dramatically. Therefore, in some areas like California there is more drought. Temperature increase also leads to more rainy weather, and therefore more floods. However, the others I feel are more of a direct result from the choices we make. A lot of the trash we throw away ends up in the ocean. In fact, ocean currents have accumulated the trash into gyres the size of Texas. And then there are the issues of overfishing, and oil spills that lower species diversity, and harm aquatic ecosystems. Despite these issues, it is easier said than done to alter the comforts and necessities that are part of our lives."

Kevin Anderson, What Have We Done to Water?

Ed tells us about his collage: "Growing up in Minnesota, The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, boating and canoeing was a rite of passage. My collage depicts a young man rowing a small craft in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a pristine waterway of over 200 miles of rivers and lakes on the Minnesota/Canadian border. After portaging into the inner lakes, the water was so clean you could drink it without boiling it. We boy-scouts canoed and camped for a full week in August, swimming and fishing in the rivers and lakes surrounded by black granite islands, pine forests and clear, ice cold water. The serenity at twilight was breathtaking as you lost yourself in the bliss of nature's perfection, until the sonic boom smack of a beaver's tail on the glassy water jolted you back to your senses."

Ed Rath, Boundary Waters

Jane worked quickly and intuitively on a watery watercolor water triptych. (Channeling Reg on that description! 😸)

Jane Huntington, Water l, ll & lll

After quite a busy day Pat sent this text about her work for Vera's session: "I was interested in exploring water as a medium with my new big watercolor brush. There really is something healing for me in brushing pigmented water across the surface of the paper and watching it flow. Water is powerful. Some of the other pieces this week show the power, even sometimes threatening, of water. Watercolors can have a mind of their own, and my pieces for this week were a way for me to surrender control and (literally) go with the flow. "

Pat Larash, Water I & II

Vera had us spiritedly discussing not only the work created in the session but the question she posited to us: "What have or will YOU do for water?". I think this bears ruminating by all of us.

Dennis compliments: “I loved Vera's Advanced Studio lesson this week - extremely well presented and it gave participants a wide variety of ideas. It made me think of the fantastic 2017 Guillermo del Toro film, The Shape of Water, romance/fantasy, somewhat sci-fi, which is about a silent maintenance person at a high-security government laboratory who falls in love with a captured humanoid-ish amphibian creature. Sounds crazy, huh? It's really quite beautiful - story-wise, cinematography-wise and the soundtrack is gorgeous.

It has sort of an old Hollywood horror film feel which lets the viewer empathize with the creature - think of The Creature From The Black Lagoon (who doesn't love that creature?).... and also think of that iconic image of Marilyn Monroe with her white dress blowing up from the breeze from the subway below her where she (her character in The Seven Year Itch) had just come from seeing The Creature From The Black Lagoon, and comments that the creature "just wanted to be loved".

Somehow, I think it would have been differently more appealing to me had it been filmed in black and white - but then that's just me - altho, the final color version is truly dazzling.

The Shape of Water film still

So ... what IS the shape of water? That could have been the subtext of Vera's lesson. The title of the film has something to do with Plato's idea that in its purest form, water takes the shape of an icosahedron, a 20-sided something-or-other, evoking the idea that beauty, and humanity, has many faces. OK - yes, of course, I had to look that up .... but I'll bet Ed Rath can tell us ALL about that!

On that note (titles involving water - its shape and color), a lovely book called The Color of Water is a memoir by James McBride, a black man's tribute to his white mother. It also came to mind during Vera's lesson. That book is pretty high on my hit parade.

I think everyone who participated in Vera's Advanced Studio lesson will enjoy both.”

Not only did Vera create a compelling lesson, filled with terrific examples, spur on an wonderful dialogue about her theme, but she created a stellar piece during the session!

Vera Tineo, The Healing Power of Water


The next day ART YARD Advanced Studio in person met at Figureworks Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We were floored by the fantastic two-person exhibition of work by Jay Moses and Ana Busto.

Figureworks installation view with work by Jay Moses and Ana Busto

Figureworks Director Randall Harris describes the exhibition and the work on view: “Ana has built upon her Raku and wood fired ceramic portraits with wooden bases to create fully formed entities. Jay has developed provocative digital collages from his paintings and photography with images from magazines, advertisements and social media. Both artists, deriving inspiration from very different sources, create spectacular dialogue and a unique harmony with each other. The additional strength in this work lies in the artist’s ability to evoke a wide range of emotional responses.”

Randall has done a splendid job curating! The works are placed in such a way that there is a wonderful active dialogue between works. The viewer can follow many threads – materials, form, content and emotional response to the work. Robin made an apt and interesting comparison from Jay’s work to the layered content of work by Jean Michel Basquait. Surrounded by and inspired in part by the work on view we all created collages.

Jay Moses, Figureworks Collage

Robin Grant, Figureworks Collage

Randall Harris, Figureworks Collage

Nayarit Tineo, Figureworks Collage

Ana Busto, Figureworks collage drawing

Meridith McNeal, Figureworks Collage

Vera brought her work to the next level as a projected shadow and video:

Vera Tineo, Shadow of Figureworks Collage

Robin adds: "I really enjoyed viewing the art work of Ana Busto and Jay Moses at Figureworks!! Inspired by the visit, I have incorporated collage into my own work! I am currently working on a collage series in my sketchbook called “All My Sistas!”. Hopefully I will be able to publish/display in the future!! Thanks to ART YARD BKLYN for providing truly great art experiences."

Robin Grant, Sketchbook collages


Our afterschool program ART YARD Art Matters at Brooklyn New School (BNS) is back to remote learning temporarily. Teaching Artist Fatima Traore and Dennis hosted the zoom class and continued with our Vision Board lesson.

Students were given carte blanche to use whatever materials they had at home - Fatima and Dennis were gigantically surprised at the variety of art making tools these 2nd graders had. Max proudly showed us his "Chunkies" paint sticks with one of them being iridescent gold (which he, of course, used in his work).

Neta opted to use only pencil for her draft but will add color during this week. She worked very diligently and included lots of detail.

Students were asked to select and explain their goal or wishes, pertaining to healing, for this new year. Their responses were quite selfless - with mentions of the Black Lives Matter movement, peace and love on Earth, and wishes to help others not as fortunate. Other goals were: to learn a musical instrument (or improve their music studies), become better at ballet, basketball, animal rights and appreciation, and horseback riding, find time to read more - and their images representing them were horseshoes, basketball hoops, lots of animals, and some even added text.

Zoe's image of a ballet dancer had lots of movement - she drew it in spirals which made the dancer appear to be spinning. Ellis' animals represented his love for all creatures. Neta included an African symbol representing peace and love. Max's page was filled with rainbow colors and carefully drawn images.

During critique, all complimented each other very thoughtfully and most especially Zoe who complimented Neta on including the African symbol that they learned earlier that day in class, remarking that Neta was 'focused'.


Dennis shares: “While walking through Central Park this morning to the East Side, I ran into Diane Arbus. She was there amongst the crowd - life size and not on any pedestal so she fit right in. Her feet (in white tennis shoes) are planted on the ground which further humanizes the installation. No one seemed to find her to be in the way. Everyone just walked around her. It almost seemed like she was stopping to take a photograph while on her way elsewhere. Strangely, I was the only person who stopped to take a photograph of HER.

Gillian Wearing, Diane Arbus (public sculpture in Central Park), photo by Dennis Buonagura

Until last year, there were no statues of real women in Central Park (the Women's Rights Pioneers Monument) - so this statue has temporarily joined them. She's been there for about two months now but with the pandemic, the holidays, etc., I hadn't gotten that far east by foot so only first saw her today - she'll be there thru late summer. She's right off Fifth Avenue and 60th Street. Apparently this was a spot where many of Arbus' street portraits were regularly taken.

The artist is Gillian Wearing (born in England in 1963). The installation of the Diane Arbus statue coincides with the first retrospective of Wearing's work in North America, "Wearing Masks" at the Guggenheim through June 2022.”


💦 💙💦 💙💦,

Rik oversees ART YARD Recap production

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