Greenpoint Gazette

Arts in Bushwick: BETA SPACES

BY Talisa Chang

Art-seekers were treated to sunshine and over twenty-five free group exhibitions at the BETA Spaces festival on Sunday. This is the third year of the group-oriented festival, and it is produced by Arts in Bushwick, an all-volunteer community organization, which has also held Bushwick Open Studios for the past three years, and Site Fest, a performance based festival, for the past year. The all-day festival was free and included an after party at 76 Jefferson Street in the evening.

The different exhibitions were held in a variety of spaces, from galleries, to personal studios, to booths on the street, and examined different themes and subject matters, such as language, technology, voyeurism, outer space, artist process, portraiture, and climate change.

One exhibition, Space is the Case, featured work by Shawn Gallagher, Andrew Hunt, and Layton Hower, and focused on futuristic and extra-terrestrial themes.

“I see these videos… there’s these alien faces and coded messages and things that are directed at humanity. What does it take for us to believe? Do we need it to come through the government, through science, youtube, or music? What does it take for us to believe in a certain reality? The work is playing on this idea of extra dimensionality and other life forms,” said artist Andrew Hunt, whose work included clips of experts discussing crop circles.

Other exhibitions included “Sometimes I Doubt Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion,” an outdoor truck fashioned into a shiny gold space, complete with glitter and cupcakes, “Corporeality” at Lumenhouse, “Eatfuck,” at English Kills Art Gallery, and “The Birds Eye View,” an exhibit focused on global warming and recycled materials, on the roof at 1717 Troutman.

Arts in Bushwick’s initial project was Bushwick Open Studios, which spans the greater Bushwick area and takes place of three days in June.

“It grew out of a community desire to have a visible day where everybody could show their work, come out, and make connections with each other,” Organizer Laura Braslow said. “It was a very successful event; we had over one hundred fifty shows.”

Not wanting to lose steam over the course of the year, the organization decided to create more events, such as BETA spaces, which could emphasize different aspects of the artist community in Bushwick—in this case, collaboration and group shows.

Besides focusing on collective work, the other goal of BETA Spaces (which stands for Bushwick Exhibition Triangle of Open Spaces), was to have festival that wasn’t too overwhelming and could be seen by visitors in just one day. The festival was contained to about ten square blocks in Bushwick, and artists outside of the area were welcome to join other exhibitions within it.

“We really like having shows in alternative spaces,” Braslow said. “There’s a huge range of stuff—a lot of great and exciting work and vision on the part of the curators and artists to put together these polyphonic, awesome shows. It’s a beautiful day out, and we’re hoping people will go out and see the work and make connections with other artists. It’s showcasing the work of artists who live or work or are connected to Bushwick in a way that really lets them participate in producing the venue and the framework, as well as allowing them to have more ownership then they might have in a museum of gallery type setting. They’re really making their own space and context for the exhibition, which is really exciting about this festival.”

“It’s been really interesting seeing how people feel so comfortable walking around in a place that I live, and seeing the way that they interact with my space,” said artist and curator Jeremiah Jones.

His exhibition, “Formless in Context: A Study of Chaos and Discourse,” explored themes of chaos and order with mixed-media and video pieces, and was held in his studio and living space.
“The goal for the artwork was to create a space that embraced the chaos of our lives in a way that art doesn’t always do. I wanted to have a discourse between chaos and order. All the pieces are really different, but they work,” Jones said.

Jones, relatively new to the Bushwick area, was satisfied with the day’s outcome. “It feels really organic and like a community that you might not think is possible in an industrial area,” he said. “Today people have really loved the work; I’ve had some really affecting conversations. I put out a call [for the exhibition] to make new friends and contacts. That’s another reason why I really like this—there are a lot of people from around here who are doing stuff and there’s no meeting ground necessarily.”

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