My Picks for the 2014 DUMBO Arts Festival

This past weekend thousands flocked to Brooklyn to take part in the DUMBO Arts Festival. Over the course of three days, 200,000 visitors filled the streets of DUMBO to look at over 400 artists’ work. This included both independent artists and galleries.

DAF14_JKratochvil_10 Image courtesy DUMBO Arts Festival

Some of the highlights of this year’s open studios for me were located in and around Jay Street. At 20 Jay Street there were various individual and group studios that had interesting, thought provoking work coming out of them. I was very impressed by the Triangle Arts Association, which is a nonprofit that supports emerging and mid career artists that are nationally and internationally located. Through Triangle’s initiative, there are two main programs offered: the Triangle Artists Workshop which is offered every two years and a year round residency program.

One artist taking part in the 2014 residency program that I was particular struck by was Eozen Agopian. Agopian who hails from Greece, received her MFA from Pratt and a BFA from Hunter College. Agopian’s studio had several small hand embroidered pieces on stretched canvas, various paintings, drawings and a large fabric sculpture. The smaller works that  were hand sewn seemed to be a comment on the larger history of women’s crafts and handiwork as well as labor and process.

The large hanging fabric sculpture was particularly interesting. Agopian had sewn together pieces of found and bought fabrics to create a larger structure which she hung. Given the size of the  piece which was roughly about 4’x 5′ and the weight from the different kinds of fabrics used, seeing it hung gave it a sense of airiness which would have been lost had it been shown differently. It was Agopain’s use of material, process and organization of the work which was most impressive.

Also located at 20 Jay Street is the New York Studio Residency Program. Now in it’s 29th year of operation,  NYSRP offers undergraduate fine art students from around the United States the opportunity to live and work in New York City for a semester. They are given studio space, attend weekly seminars and lectures, and have studio visits with various artists, critics and curators working in the contemporary art world today.

Although the the fall semester has only been in session for a month, this year’s cohort has been busy settling into their new space. NYSRP alum and current TA for the program, Kyle Holland had several illustrations displayed. The images depicted a forest scene with various animals on handmade paper. Holland who is a paper maker and book artist primarily, explores issues of masculinity and growing up in the South within his work. Holland’s work intrigued me and is defiantly someone to pay attention to in coming years.

Several blocks down at 68 Jay Street, I went to fellow blogger, artist and professor Sharon Butler’s studio. Butler shares the space with artist Terri Hackett. Last weekend both artists helped to organize a group show featuring the work of  Elena Berriolo, Lisa Hein, Bob Seng, Margrit Lewzuk, Dennis Kardon, Heather Hutchison, Liza Phillips and Michelle Weinber. The work in this group show was funny, well executed and related to one another in terms of content, material and color.


Image courtesy of DUMBO Arts Festival

One of the major attractions this year also included Smack Mellon, an artist residency and gallery space. Smack Mellon’s mission is to “nurture and support emerging, under-recognized mid-career and women artists in the creation and exhibition of new work, by providing exhibition opportunities, studio workspace, and access to equipment and technical assistance for the realization of ambitious projects.” The main space featured two installations by New York based artists Saya Woolfalk and Vandana Jain. Both artists’ installations offered an almost hallucinatory experience when you enter the space. Woolfalk’s piece had various dolls that are placed throughout the gallery in an almost ritualistic manner and a  kaleidoscope-esque video that filled the room.

This is in contrast to Jain’s installation which used tape and was confined to a wall. Jain was inspired by WWI  naval camouflage. Jain writes that the camouflage was meant “to confuse the enemy’s attempts to determine the size, speed, and direction of a ship, it was painted in intersecting graphic patterns, often in bold colors. ” It is the camouflaging of Smack Mellon’s which is helping to create  new meaning for these concepts and art works. I look forward to next year’s opening to see what exciting, emerging art is being created right here in the borough of Brooklyn.

–Anni Irish

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