Periodically, BRIC invites artists and arts professionals to create a Short List of some of their favorite artists in the BRIC Contemporary Artist Registry curated around a common theme.
I grew up on the outskirts of a tiny town with a population of less than 2,000 inhabitants situated on a glimmering lake in the middle of an endlessly rural landscape in upstate New York. The beauty I found in the landscape that surrounded me was very obvious and traditional – scatterings of colored wildflowers, textured fields of grasses, groves of shady trees, sun-dappled mountains against pale blue water. Once I left my idyllic hometown, I found myself living in cities of increasing urban intensity. I've lived in Brooklyn now for nine years and have developed a great appreciation of and fascination with the city's urban landscape–perhaps because of my rural upbringing –particularly when it comes to industrial landscapes. For this curated Short List, I featured artists who study and portray the urban industrial landscape of a city, whether in New York City or elsewhere, and expose the beauty of its grittiness. These artists work in a variety of different media and approach their documentation and intervention with the urban landscape in different manners.
Derek Buckner draws inspiration from the beauty within seemingly banal details of the urban landscape such as intersecting freeways, factory buildings, container cranes; and even parked delivery trucks. Painting realistically, Buckner adds warmth and a fantasy-like quality to landscapes that might objectively be referred to as industrial wastelands.
Strewn garbage, cracked windows, and peeling paint are pictured in Nathan Kensinger's alluring photographs.Capturing abandoned urban spaces within industrial neighborhoods; Kensinger brings out beauty in detritus and decay.
From afar, Margaret Noel's mixed media collages could be abstract works, but a closer look reveals a layered process that begins with an observational drawing of an industrial landscape. Often architectural in their nature, Noel intends for her works to be abstract enough to remind viewers of forgotten places in their memory. The materials and processes the artist uses bring a unique effect to these portrayals of urban landscape, focusing our attention to the blocks of color that compose these scenes.
Jackie Weisberg photographs industrial scenes from different locations around the world. Her series Gowanus Impressions has a dual purpose – in addition to revealing the beauty of the Gowanus area of Brooklyn and the very toxic Gowanus Canal, her photographs serve as documentation of a neighborhood at a crossroads. An acquired EPA Superfund status and the plans of developers threaten to bring big changes (good and bad) to Gowanus and to make Weisburg's photographs a historical recount of this particular area of Brooklyn.
Daryl-Ann Saunders' tight studies of urban elements in the series Stacked Concrete include, including high-rise buildings, signs, and streetlights. Although the photographs were taken in San Francisco, their ambiguity and general nature make them representative of any city environment. An urban charm can be found in the textured patterns created by the glass, metal and stone in these compositions.
David Gitt intervenes the urban landscape: his "Publicdraw" project aims to change the way we view and distribute art by offering free drawings to be installed in public places such as storefronts and pedestrian-friendly infrastructures. As a result, Gitt's artwork often beautifies industrial spaces, adding to, and changing them. Gitt's documentation of these installations add another layer to the project, producing photographs of urban scenes.
And, Deborah Brown takes both alluring and menacing elements of the urban, industrial landscape of Bushwick, Brooklyn, and combines them in an unfamiliar way. Brown utilizes a cheerful color palette, to create paintings that are dystopian yet fanciful and dream-like. With these imaginary urban streetscapes, Brown also has a political intention: to provoke thought about what is taking place on our city streets.
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