Let me tell you a story...

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

Over 15 years ago I led an art tour in Brooklyn for a national conference on Public Art. An eclectic and really interesting group of artists, curators, educators and arts aficionados attended my walking art talk. Among the group were two museum directors from Salina Art Center in Kansas. One of them, Karla Prickett, like me, bridged the worlds of practicing artist and arts professional. We fell into an easy discussion as the tour went on.


Mid-tour, with a bit of a sheepish look, Karla piped up – “I know Brooklyn is a big place and there are lots of artists -- but, well, I know one artist from Brooklyn. He did a fantastic exhibition at Salina Art Center. It sounds a bit crazy, but he seems like someone you might know!”


(I thought - what are the odds? Even back then Brooklyn had the largest concentration of artists in the WORLD.)


Karla continued: “His name is Ed Rath.” ED RATH. Yup, our Ed Rath.


Suffice it to say, Karla and I became fast friends and to this day keep in touch, sharing artwork and camaraderie. In fact, Karla subscribes to the ART YARD recaps. Yesterday I received this email from Karla:


“Your posts of the student work and instructor works are always so uplifting! I thoroughly enjoy seeing the works and reading about the processes and thoughts.


I really liked your piece shown in this [last week’s Building Bridges recap] The composition also hit close to a work I recently finished where I combined elements made of found materials and some created with vintage tools. It is a piece for an upcoming show in memory of an artist who passed unexpectedly this year. Her work focused on assemblage incorporating handmade clay pieces. The show is titled “Keep Box” after a labeled plastic tub she gave to a mutual friend/artist. I created a vocabulary list of words and titles describing things this artist and I shared in our friendship. Those words are translated via vintage block stamps.


I noticed the circular and linear elements and text in your piece and felt a connection to this recent work of mine.”

Karla Prickett, Memorial piece for “Keep Box”, 2020, mixed media

How is that for a real life bridging of many communities over time!?!

This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio we had the pleasure of working with Wayne Gross on a project titled Our OWN ART YARD BKLYN Community. Wayne asked us to bring a photo of ourselves to the session. I used the Zoom random break out room feature to assign partners. Which resulted in delightful pairings. We spent the first half of our session working on our self-portrait and the second depicting our partner.


Wayne explains: “This week we focused on our immediate ART YARD community. We have formed a community via Zoom over the last nine months and I wanted to use each of our artists as both subject and creator. The lesson was divided into two parts and centered on portraiture. For inspiration I shared works by Marlene Dumas, David Hockney, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Elizabeth Peyton.


Portraits by Marlene Dumas
Self portraits by David Hockney
Porraits by Toyin Ojih Odutola
Portraits by Elizabeth Peyton

Artists were paired off (nifty break out rooms on Zoom!) and exchanged a photo of one another. Each artists then spent 30 minutes working on a self-portrait based on their image and then an additional portrait of their partner. Each portrait was to be executed in the same medium and similar style. I was truly blow away by the results! I feel that artists can produce incredible work under pressure and time constraints and this was certainly proven. From Halli’s images of herself and Ed to Meridith’s renditions of her portrait and Amelia's - it was fascinating to see how each artist interpreted the lesson in their own personal style and preferred medium. It was wonderful to bond on a more intimate level with the artists that make up our very own Art Yard community. I look forward to seeing the four images created by each pair of artists displayed collectively.”


The artwork below self-portrait preceding portrait of our partners (FYI: I am still waiting on a few images of works, but I will add them soon! So please check back.):


Amelia Tineo, Self Portrait and Portrait of Meridith
Meridith McNeal, Self portrait and portrait of Amelia
Assata Benoit Self Portrait, portrait of Kevin
Kevin Ming-va'shawn Anderson Self Portrait, Portrait of Assata (in progress)
Jacob Rath Self Portrait, portrait of Vera
Vera Tineo Self Portrait, portrait of Jacob
Photo of Akash and Portrait of Marilyn by Akash Wilmont
Marilyn August Self Portrait, Portrait of Akash
Ed Rath Self Portrait, Portrait of Halli
Halli Beaudoin Self Portait, portrait of Ed
Eden Moore Self Portrait, Portrait of August
August Levenson Self Portrait, Portrait of Eden
Sarah Gumgumji Self Portrait, Portrait of Zahir

Work by Zahir Prudent to follow soon!

Wayne Gross Self Portrait, Portrait of Zeke
Zeke Brokow Self Portrait, Portrait of Wayne

There you have it, the ART YARD Advance Studio community this week!

I am really happy to report that after a daunting on-line upload process we have submitted our paper to the Art Education Journal of the National Art Education Association. A huge thank you to our editor Lisa Peet. Not only did she help us craft our best work, but she also provided vital in-real-time support as I submitted our piece.


This is the “abstract” for our submission: ART YARD BKLYN: Be the Change is a collaborative personal response to the open call for papers for the Instructional Resource Special Issue of the Art Education Journal of the National Art Education Association written by Sarah Gumgumji, Teaching Artist; Meridith McNeal, Director; Eden Moore, Student; and Vera Tineo, Student then Intern now Teaching Artist, of ART YARD BKLYN. The response illustrates how ART YARD’s open and inclusive programs welcome all, promote social justice, and have allowed students to grow artistically and into new roles as instructors.


Fingers crossed!

Why don't you tell me a story! How about a response to our recap?! It would be great to include your ideas next week.


Best wishes for a great week ahead,







P.S. On our exhibitions to see list -- David Hockney is on view at the Morgan!

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