As proven by the DIY art scene prevalent in North Brooklyn, artists don’t need a formal gallery to showcase their work. Ugly Art Room, a project, started last October, allows artists to exhibit their work in off-kilter areas.
Ugly Art Room provides “an important service to artists, the community, and local businesses by showing artwork in unique spaces that are more accessible than a gallery,” according to founder Jennifer Galatioto, one of the group’s four members. “We pride ourselves on moving our shows to different locations,” she said.
According to Ugly Art Room’s mission statement, they seek to challenge the conventional “white box” tradition in galleries and to “present work in consideration of its relationship to its environment physically, conceptually, and historically… Ultimately, a unique and inspiring viewing experience results.”
In just nine months, they’ve held 10 events and shown over 75 artists at sites around Brooklyn. For their first show last October, they held “A Cinderella Story: From a Bomb to a Bombshell,” at Paulie Gee’s, a Greenpoint Avenue pizza shop. Since the restaurant was rebuilt over a burnt-down space, the theme of the show was creating artwork from less than beautiful materials. “This Greenpoint spot, the area itself already ripe with renewal, has been redesigned with so much character, reclaimed wood, raw materials, exposed brick, [and] tin ceiling, that the art has to exist ‘amongst’ the space without becoming ornamental,” said the group on its Web site.
At North 14th Street’s Gutter, a bowling alley, Ugly Art Room put up “Noise Jam,” a showcasing of cell phone photos from local band shows. The Greenpoint Church hosted “Pull the Devil’s Tail,” where participants could pull the lever on an antique cast iron press and retrieve a Jesus head print by local artist Chris Schaffer. There was also “Landing Jam,” a show that took place in a Greenpoint railroad apartment on the third floor skylight landing. Many of Ugly Art Room’s events are presented in collaboration with other local groups such as the Bushwick and Greenpoint Open Studios.
In September, Ugly Art Room will travel outside the borough for the first time to install “Opening Rejection” at the Governor’s Island Art Fair. The six cubic-feet, portable structure holds five square-inch works from 17 different artists and originally appeared on Bedford Avenue, this past June, at Williamsburg Walks. Scott Chasse, a painter and member of the group, said like the rest of the installations, this one integrates into the Williamsburg and Greenpoint communities. “People who may never step foot into a proper gallery might inadvertently come upon a show that we install in a local business, resulting in a connection between local artists, businesses, and neighbors.”
Chasse showed “The Man, The Myth, The Moustache,” his “seemingly obsessive collection” of Burt Reynolds portraits that’s been three years in the making at Greenpoint Avenue’s Brouwerij Lane, a beer store, in June. Besides the upcoming Governor’s Island event, the group has submitted a top-secret project idea for the “Bring to Light” festival that will take place this October in Greenpoint. “[We] are keeping our fingers crossed that we will be a part of it.”
Chasse gives much of the credit for UAR’s success to the local businesses that have contributed space for their installations. “The general community here is welcoming, supportive, and interested in the arts. The local businesses have been extremely receptive of our ideas and a pleasure to work with, and the pool of talented artists in and around the neighborhood seems to be steadily growing. I feel lucky to be a part of such an amazing community,” Chasse said.