Sunday, June 19, 2016

Surrealestate Surprises, Art Shows and a Midsummer Nights Dream

Jason McLean

Stuart Davis, my all time favorite.

The summer is full of tragedies as everyone in world knows.

Orlando Solidarity at Sherridan Square. By Steven Love Menendez

But it is also full of surprises.
Just the other day, I was riding down the street and stumbled into my friend Andrew on his day to a show organized by his girlfriend on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. Riding my tandem,
I gave him a ride over to the show, Fake: A Surrealestate Gallery on 5th Ave, where they were having an opening, see below.

All summer has been like that, presenting an awareness of the pain of the world and countless openings.

Next week, June 22, my friends in Public Space Party have organized a more love, less hate solidarity ride
around the Orlando massacre.

But here, in New York Shakespeare has been everywhere. We went to see a faaabulous East Village version of Midsummer Nights Dream the other night at Theater 80, with Puck dressed in leather. Everyone
hammed it up, camping it for all it was worth, as tragicomedy enveloped us.

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Friday, at Coney Island, the water was refreshing, and we actually won a few games, including the ping pong ball toss before the opening for the Cyclones Season. The world has been like that all summer long, full of surprises.

Summer was full of surprises.

Join us Tuesday, June 7 at 6pm
to celebrate the launch of

FAKE : A Surrealestate Gallery
(aka a condo sales office*)
304 Fifth Avenue @ 2nd St
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Stumbling into Friends at Surrealestate and other summer surprises

For Immediate Release:

Dear Potential Condo Buyer,*

When I was approached by Brendan Aguayo to install a pop-up art gallery in a condo sales office at the edge of the rapidly gentrifying Gowanus arts neighborhood, I felt like someone had just handed me a gorgeous, multicolored hand grenade. My first thought was, run away! My second thought was: wait! As an artist, curator and Brooklyn patriot—is there some good I can do here?

There is a saying, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. So: Welcome to FAKE, a surrealestate gallery.

Let me take you on a tour. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in your new home. Open the glass door and step onto the terrace. If you look south and west, you’ll see something extraordinary: hundreds of artists at work. Well, actually, you’ll see a toxic canal and whole lot of rooftops, but I promise you the artists are there, working away.

What are they doing in there? They’re making the art you see on these walls. They’re also what makes Gowanus — and New York — a magical place to live in. It’s a world of celebration, full of life and color and long hard looks at society; the ecstasy of the morning and the dark night of the soul. Artists set out into the abyss and return, on fire, damaged and deified, with party favors. A party we all want to be at. Even the marketing for this building includes an artist’s brush stroke.

But these artists are in trouble. To prepare this exhibit, I spent days walking along the toxic Gowanus canal, the nation’s largest Superfund site, visiting artists from Fourth Avenue to the BQE. I met artists packing up studios they’d been working in for years. I went to eviction parties for entire buildings, stumbled past paintings leaned up against garbage cans, their creators unable to save them as the clock struck midnight. They were pissed. They felt screwed over. Maybe not the best moment to ask: Hey, do you want me to put up your work in a nearby condo sales office?

They saw the irony. They saw the contradictions. After all, artists aren’t above the fray. We’re often the shock troops of gentrification, the first line in. But in the end, they all said yes—a surprisingly enthusiastic, Yes. Here’s one reason why:

“Artists have been the backbone of this community,” Aguayo said in the New York Observer. “It should be a goal to ensure the protection of their interests.” Easy for some to dismiss as canny marketing from a developer looking to culture-wash his latest property. But the artists were willing to take him at his word. Maybe this familiar story could end a little differently this time.

So, I made a phone call to Arts Gowanus, a grassroots neighborhood arts organization that’s making a difference in the neighborhood. It wasn’t an easy task, but from one of the greatest arts neighborhoods in the world, I chose nine of the best and brightest local artists to present here. You’re standing in the result: FAKE, a surrealestate gallery. Where the art of people fearing eviction is on display for their new neighbors just moving in. Stay awhile. Sample the contradictions. Take a long deep breath of irony.

We’ve arrived at the end of the tour. You may be asking yourself the same question I did: Is there any good YOU can do here? Yes, yes there is.

If you’re looking for ways to be a good neighbor, here are a few:

Look around you. See anything you like? Buy it. You will be supporting incredible local artists, and they are right here in your neighborhood. (For real. I get 0% commission. The Aguayo Team gets 0%. Artists get 100% of the proceeds from these sales.)
Don’t see the perfect thing? We have a big rolodex of other local artists. Just ask.
Support Arts Gowanus directly at
Come to the Arts Gowanus summer auctions. $250 and after the party, you walk out with a piece of your choosing. Tickets at Missed it? It happens every year, contact Abby to get on the list for the next go-round.
Come to Gowanus Open Studios in October. Sign up for one of the curator-led tours (I led one last year). It’s fun, social and potentially enlightening. And after five studios tours, the beer tastes extra good.
Visit one of the many nearby multi-artist studio buildings. Spaceworks, at 540 President Street, is just three blocks away. Brooklyn Artspace, at 168 7th street, is less than a ten minute walk.
112 Second Avenue, ten minutes away at 9th St, is filled with fifty or so artist studios. Better go now, because it’s next on the clear-out list: as I was writing this press release, tenants received word that their leases will end in October, not to be renewed for any artists.
Thank you,

—Katie Peyton

The Artists in this exhibition are all an active part of the Gowanus arts neighborhood:

Rhia Hurt

Rhia Hurt. These organically shaped paintings suggest the natural iridescence of fish scales and butterfly wings, pinned to the wall and shining in the sun. Intense and evanescent, strange and familiar: Alexander Calder dances with Joan Mitchell at the Surrealist Ball. Hurt also cofounded Trestle Gallery, a nonprofit that also oversees dozens of studio spaces.

Charlotte Corini

Charlotte Corini achieves the deep color and luminosity of her abstract paintings through dozens of layers of delicate ink washes. Downstairs, her Dissection series eviscerates a large composition into four parts, which become twisted, reinvigorated parts of the whole. When placed in different parts of a space, the viewer asks, have I seen this before? Yet it’s different somehow… She is also organizing this year’s Artworks auction for Arts Gowanus.

Carlton Scott Sturgill

Carlton Scott Sturgill’s work is never what it appears. Rank your vices with Seven Deadly Schemes, downstairs by the play area. Look closely, and rearrange the seven canvases according to your own darkest wishes. There are other surprises to be found... Sturgill is also an active supporter of Arts Gowanus and a tour guide for Gowanus Open Studios.

Kat Chamberlain

Born in the Netherlands and raised in Turkey, Kat Chamberlin is a conceptual artist whose work centers on fictions that fill vacuums of historic knowledge, such as legends, conspiracies or supernatural phenomena - as well as the identities that these fictions create. In 2009, Sylvio Berlusconi was attacked with a souvenir miniature of the Duomo di Milano. An image of the miniature of the Duomo di Milano being sold on ebay is blown up as monument. Chamberlain also founded Common People, a semi-nomadic gallery and curatorial initiative focusing on Gowanus artists.

Stephanie Land

Stephanie Land ’s titles are abstractions from classical literature, often illustrating classical male writer’s descriptions of women. In More Than Her Art, The Guests Admired Her Duality, a ring hangs from a post. Flip the ring from wood grain to its painted black reverse side to create a different, darker experience. This duality embodies Land’s interpretation of this description of a hostess from Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Dale Williams

Through humor and compassion, Dale Williams shoots straight for the broken heart of modern society. In collaboration with Ben Miller, he created the Dronx, a fictional sixth borough of New York where the misfits and rejects from all the other boroughs live in compassionate exile. Spoopeedoo was created to the strains of the Archie Shepp tune, which he will play for you if you ask very nicely.

Jason McLean

Jason McLean’s work has been described as a cross between Jean-Michel Basquiat, Raymond Pettibon, and Ray Johnson. Inspired as well by the automatic drawings of the Surrealists, these works present a scavenger hunt through the cultural detritus of our culture, from White Castle to Minesweeper to music and literature. In the lower right corner of the large piece in the main room, painted on the wooden canvas of a door, is the imperative: “Find your way back.”

Ai Campbell

If water could fold, if a galaxy could crack, it would look like an Ai Campbell painting. By layers dozens of delicate layers of organic forms, Campbell creates dynamic, ethereal black and white paintings that defy description. Hidden in the paintings, skulls and landscapes suggest life and death. In her words, she “engages the most basic elements of life to build or extract the most complex.”

TJ Volonis

TJ Volonis looks at the unseen and reimagines it in new ways, incorporating a wide variety of themes including human biological processes, the natural world and man’s relationship to it, hidden systems, technology and contemporary culture, and the implicit balance between order and chaos, among others. He views his work as a collaboration between the material with its limitations and his own intentions. Volonis created Repaired Ostrich Egg using the ancient Japanese practice of kintsugi, where flaws are repaired with a precious material: solid gold.

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