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Monday, October 21, 2013

Missed it Monday : Brooklyn Art Bounty

Art is making it's presence know in New York in many ways that go beyond Banksy's current October "New York Residency" although few give and get the attention as easily Banksy's. I'll get more into Banksy in a piece to be posted soon.

This past weekend in Brooklyn was a great example of the abundance of art to be found.

The Brooklyn Museum has been in deliciously demonstrative form recently opening an exhibition of Wangechi Mutu's work appropriately entitled, "A Fantastic Journey". 

The works are to be seen, not described. But you should know Wangechi's work is as layered in thought as they are in process and equally balanced between beauty and filth in a way that to my eyes is perfect and enlightening. All the aspects of Wangechi's work I saw are like that. Including a video of filmed and animated elements featuring the equally dynamic and surprising recording artist Santigold (who like Wangechi makes her home in Brooklyn).

On Thursday the museum threw a party not only around Wangechi's work but inclusive of the larger tribe of creative Brooklynites including the fierce singer-songwriter and dynamic performer Wunmi, the deceptively powerful DJ Reborn supplying seductive and demanding dance music from half way around the globe and back. As they worked the dance space the 3rd floor had become, opposite the stage were an array of fashions, essentially wearable art being sold by Ngozi Odita of HAE Harriet's Alter-Ego fame), and AFRIKA21. The common thread between all these creative peoples is that travel similar physical and conceptual paths as Wangechi and each of these artists have made Brooklyn their homebase.

Wangechi Mutu's "A Fantastic Journey" is open now through March 9th, but see it soon because when you look at her work thinking you know what you're looking at, prepared to give credit for it's ingenuity, you'll likely find more subtle detail of thought and action to make freeze you in place with wonder. So yeh, you'll need to see it more than once.

Also collaborating with the Brooklyn Museum as well as Creative Time is artist Suzanne Lacy, whom I confess I've never heard of in my life, not even in my art life.

Suzanne's work became physically apparent as I was on the way to the opening of Wangechi's show at the Brooklyn Museum. The side steps of the Museum (one of the genius touches of the museums facade renovation nine years ago) have become a stoop in every way that is Brooklyn. On these steps you'll find families together enjoy the frolicking of their young while parents sit and catch their breathe, a few feet away a couple is likely meeting on their first date.

Suzanne's work in this space was to dress the front facing side of the steps in bands her signature process yellow color with text that asked questions related to gender issues.

Unfortunately for me this didn't inspire me to investigate and I nearly missed the broader work of Ms. Lacy that the stoop dressing was meant to direct viewers to, a full street of stoop conversations near by in Prospect Heights. As the universe would have it, a few days later friend told me she was participating in an art event nearby and when I came to see, it was in fact the entire block of Park Place between Underhill and Vanderbilt that was full with people sharing and trading personal reflections on issues of gender, sexuality, race and society in general.

It was a great time. Art aside the event reminded me of how far Brooklyn has come not simply in terms of cool factor, or gentrification (although those things have lifted Brooklyn's appeal with outsiders and new comers that increases the success of events like these) but in the overall willingness of residents, many new, some long-term who have now allow Brooklyn's public spaces to be party to these types of events. To put that succinctly, I couldn't help but think of all the resident's who gave up their parking spaces that day for the street to be shutdown, which any New Yorker knows is tantamount to giving your baby to a stranger.

I'll post video of the crowds on at Suzanne Lacy's event on Park Place later today.

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