An exercise in faith!
Jon Bonito Saturday at BOS
In typical fashion, my invasion of BOS – Bushwick’s Open Studios Event was an exercise in faith; a man with a plan without an agenda. I stumbled into this one studio on Wyckoff Ave and entered into this building full of graffiti, tags, and random phrases. Following the sign to the fourth floor we were greeted by a young man who simply introduced himself as Strauss and were directed to follow him through a maze of a studio into a back room where an area was sectioned off in a black tarp. Inviting us to step in, an assault of dub-step began playing and a wide-screen illuminated.
It was a tripped out film that cleverly used a variety of light filters and post production techniques to create its hallucinatory effect, highlighting some of the landscapes here within the city. Hypnotizing doesn’t really cut it in description with respect to the visceral feeling this video created. One highlight was a 3 minute clip of a can of Natty Ice rolling back and forth on a roof covered in graffiti. Shot in high contrast, colors exploded out from the screen as the can rolled back and forth—the label of which came in and out of focus as it rolled to and fro. Subsequently, it was around this time I began to question whether or not I might have accidentally drank some mushroom tea, unbeknownst to me, and with deep regret I realized I hadn’t. The video in its entirety was a homage to Strauss’s environment. It focused on the little details every New Yorker passes by day-to-day and over looks, simply because of the amount of stimulation we encounter on the street. Whether it’s the cracked paint flaking off the iron bars of a fence, pulling up behind an ambulance, Coney Island traffic, or the like, Strauss’ video is how I imagine a hawk or owl would view the city, if it was five feet eleven and got around by walking instead of flying. The best part was when the video was all said and done there were a pile of macro stills taken from the video that you could choose from as a souvenir. This video alone proved that committing to not having a plan has its pay offs!
Sunday at BOS
We had a late start on Sunday. Jon, who had already made his rounds on Saturday, was still recuperating (see above) while I had been held up by an interesting Kaffeeklatsch. I got to Rock Street, curated by Deborah Brown and Lesley Heller around 4 pm and the strip was pretty deserted to my delight. Instead of an art festival, I felt as if I had just stumbled upon a surreal movie set with just a couple of extras present.
The sculptural works were effectively installed around the premises of the Frank Brunckhorst Company, a Boars Head distributor, who spontaneously supported the show. With none of the works standing out in particular, all contributing to an interesting Gesamtkunstwerk that disrupted the urban blight often found in Bushwick.
From there I headed over to Chico’s Laundromat to see Henry G. Sanchez’s video installation addressing the consumption of water in Bushwick. The video was subtly installed above some washing machines, framed in a washing machine window. Although conceptually tight, it was easily missed even by patrons to the laundromat.
Back on the street, I encountered tour guide Matt Levy of Levys’ Unique New York with a group of hotel concierges from Manhattan who apparently are keen on learning more about artsy Bushwick, since tourists keep begging them for tips on excursions to the hood!
Not surprisingly, I saw a poster advertising Bushwick The Musical and Movie – real or not, it’s a brilliant commentary on the state of things…Levy points out what the first signs are that your neighborhood is going to become unaffordable to you: yoga studios and juice bars!
Yet, right around the corner, I met long time resident Marisol D., who was enjoying the sunny day on the side-walk with her friends Carlos and Vicky, as if this place had not experienced an invasion by hipsters.
One block over, in front of Pine Box Rock Shop, a group of performance artists from Detroit were offering free water-boarding. A few kids were eager to witness the spectacle but what sounded at first like a hokey idea was according to one willing participant no laughing matter – and led to an intense discussion on US policies.
Jon caught up with me and a little bit further down the street, we encountered “American Dream” by David Kramer – a wake up call for the generation x. Kramer states in this insightful interview: “what that dream seems to look like is this idea of being in the driver’s seat. Having money and a car and a girl. Now you would be lucky if you had enough money for gas.”
Right across from the main gallery, we found Brian Matthew’s monumental noirish painting. A man with his upper torso engulfed in black. With the sun setting and feeling light-headed from looking at too much art, there was only one sensible thing left for us to do – to get a strong cold drink!