Living In Thick and Complicated Air

Recharged from our studio time, book reading, and art-filled respite in August, ART YARD is back in action and we are raring to go.


We are thrilled to announce that Con Edison has awarded support of ART YARD Virtual Programs through the Con Edison Arts and Cultural Program. The Arts and Cultural Program provides New Yorkers with affordable, high-quality artistic and cultural experiences. We are proud to be recognized for the work we are doing and honored to be in the company of other organizations doing great work in NYC!


Dennis and I met with our Jersey City partnership school PS6 Principal Joe Appruzzi and Assistant Principal Lauren Bernero on Zoom. It is a testament to the fabulous relationships we have built that we shared some great laughs and are all really looking forward to our partnership even in the face of the slow pandemic roll out of things this year! We were thrilled to hear that the theme at PS6 this year will be unity and no we did not know ahead of time when we planned the ART YARD theme of community!


PS6 students share the projects they created in honor of Patriot Day


ART YARD Advanced Studio has begun the semester with a bang! It was with such joy and enthusiasm I planned our first session for the season. My lesson Living In Thick and Complicated Air: Swifts in Flight was inspired by a story in the New York Times by Helen Macdonald about Swifts -- birds that spend their entire lives in flight, relying on the intelligence of the community for survival. I have since read Macdonald’s Vesper Flights and really recommend it! She is an inspired environmentalist and animal activist, while at the same time recounting her ideas with the lyrical elegance of a poet.


As we are meeting virtually this semester, I prepared a Power Point presentation of images, quotes and pertinent details for our discerning posse. What really proved the pivotal concept for me was the notion of the complex community life style of the Swift.

Surely some of us are required, by dint of flourishing life and the well-being of us all, to look clearly at the things that are so easily obscured by the everyday. To take time to see the things we need to set our courses toward or against; the things we need to think about to know what we should do next. To trust in careful observation and expertise, in its sharing for the common good. When I read the news and grieve, my mind has more than once turned to vesper flights, to the strength and purpose that can arise from the collaboration of numberless frail and multitudinous souls. – Helen Macdonald, Vesper Flights

For artistic inspiration we delved into the work of Walton Ford an American artist who makes paintings and prints in the style of naturalist illustrations, often depicting extinct species. Each of his paintings is a meticulous, realistic study in flora and fauna, and is filled with symbols, clues, and jokes referencing texts ranging from colonial literature, to folktales, to travel guides. The paintings are complex allegorical narratives that critique the history of colonialism, industrialism, politics, natural science, and humanity's effect on the environment.

Walton Ford, "Isla de California", 2017, watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 108×144"

We paired an image of a swift with imagery speaking to our concerns and/or ideas about some aspect of our communal life. Not surprisingly current events – fires in particular – made an appearance in many pieces. Some of these are still in progress, even still all of them are lovely! (I will update this recap with additional images as the works are completed.)


Sarah Gumgumji, From My Heart Peace to Beirut, (Swifts drawing), 2020

Vera Tineo, "Mask Up" (Swifts with Pandemic Mask), 2020

Marilyn August, Swifts drawing in progress, 2020

Zahir Prudent, Swifts drawing in progress, 2020

Kevin Anderson, Swifts drawing in progress, 2020

Eden Moore, Va a ganar, (It will Succeed), Swifts drawing, 2020

Jacob Rath, Nowhere to Land, (Swifts drawing), 2020

Wayne Gross, Swifts drawing in progress, 2020

Jorden Hanna, Swifts drawing in progress, 2020

August Levenson, Swifts drawing in progress, 2020

Ed Rath, Chimney Swifts and Power Plants, 2020

Akash Wilmont, Swift and Fires, 2020

Flávia Berindoague, Time Will Tell Us, (Swifts Drawing), 2020

Meridith McNeal, Swift Sings to the ART YARD Community from Brooklyn and Beyond, 2020


This week in ART YARD CREATE our on-line forum for art related topics CREATE project manager Sarah Gumgumji has us thinking about what creating and creativity mean to us. I am impressed that Nayarit included video clips in her responses and I love Sarah’s photo of her painting, knitting, pottery and embroidery projects.


Sarah Gumgumji, painting, knitting, pottery and embroidery projects, 2020

Nayarit posted an image of nature as a creator which brought to mind Cecile Chong's recent installation _other Nature at Smack Mellon.



Photo of Nature as Creator posted in CEATE by Nayarit Tineo

Cecile Chong," _other Nature", installation at Smack Mellon

I encourage everyone to join in the dialogue adding our own ideas and images!


When we are able to meet in person our home base is Kentler International Drawing Space in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It is a wonderful and inspiring gallery to work in. Gallery Director Florence Neal has expertly installed 100 works on paper donated by artists (including me!) to benefit the gallery and raise funds for the great work they do. This year people near and far can participate in the Benefit buy a ticket and choose a great artwork from the comfort of their home! We will send the artworks and have several dates for artwork pick-up at the gallery.


The exhibition is open for social distance viewing in the gallery until October 10

Gallery Hours: Fridays, 10am – 3pm / Saturdays, 1 – 5pm

Do read about the Swifts if you have a chance. I would love to hear what you think about it!

Until next week,




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Kentler International Drawing Space

353 Van Brunt Street

Brooklyn, NY 11231

Frida@ARTYARDBKLYN.org