"We start at midnight. Probably going to get some food first." She paused. "And coffee," she said with a laugh, sipping a beer and darting glances around the room during Friday’s thickly attended opening at Valentine, a gallery located deep in the yonder-Bushwick, nether-Queens, soft-hilled and arboreally charmed region of Ridgewood. She turned back to her interlocutors. "Lots of coffee," she added, then nursed further her beer.
The speaker here is Liz Atzberger, known to most as Liz Atz, a Bushwick-based though semestrally itinerant artist whose creative verve and turbine-like drive would serve her well over the course of the weekend. For just hours after the gathering at Valentine, and at a different gallery in Bushwick proper, Airplane—one of our favorite new Brooklyn galleries of 2011, which Liz co-directs with Lars Kremer and Kevin Curran—she would be embarking on a 36-or-so—hour art-making marathon with Ryan Ford, Don Pablo Pedro and Julie Torres, the latter a veritable ironwoman of such durational artistic endeavors in which participants transform materials and objects in a space into a full-blown exhibit essentially ex nihilo. So from Friday at midnight to about noon on Sunday, they toiled, and the opening was on Sunday afternoon.
The result: Airplane’s second full exhibit to date, Cult Logic.
Ryan Ford’s efforts yielded a wall of paper embellished with characters, writings and colorings lingering strangely in space like mental debris from a creepily dainty dream, as well as a precipitous sculpture perhaps intended, though invariably verged to embarrass. Make the Jesus ascend, for example, for an immediate 2012 prophecy of sorts.
Julie Torres spent her time spinning an extensive, varicolored web-like structure of intricately woven bags and string and other sundries around and between hot water pipes, a clever way to make use of otherwise injury-inducing basement infrastructure. Parallel to her ad-hoc wall, and thus visible through it as well, are her rather crumply sculptural works on—or in, or into—paper, a series of similarly composed, a bit gushingly thick acrylic paintings center-punched with colorful end-stop punctuation.
In the space’s deeper reaches is Don Pablo Pedro’s amusingly unsettling altar-like installation of his trademark scroll paintings of writhing figures along with dozens of vibrant flowers and other miscellanea, all placed with care to beckon genuflected veneration. Of someone. Or something. Some poly-cephalic deity, some pink-petal-skinned Holy Haunt. Gazing upon Pedro’s meticulously delineated anthropoid grotesqueries, one can almost hear intonations of shrieks unto laughter unto om in the background.
The result of Liz’s work, then, tucked into and disseminating out of another corner of the space, is an intermeshed, interlaced form of mural organica, a medley of variably dyed swaths of paper with varietals of webby and poly-textured plastics and rubbery materials meandering their way, ivy-like, from floor to ceiling and along the walls. It might be the sacred vine in the fertile basement that incubated it all, should the underlying logic to Cult Logic need an avatar.
Nothing short of a perfectly inescapable afternoon of looking at and talking about art and the nonce in a basement, over drinks, with savories fresh-baked by Lars. This all then culminated in a performance of comedic awkwardiana by Ross Moreno and Justin Cooper, who both delighted and confounded their audience with a mash-up of deeply self-aware and self-effacing comedy with quasi-magical tom-trickery, hilariously tragic soliloquies and a rather astonishingly bare-laying finale.
Paraphrasing the crowd:
It’s too cold out. How is it warm here?
Lars makes the best garlic grissini.
I don’t know what’s in the punch. Gin?
Lars is such a great cook.
Oh my god, does my breath stink like garlic?
Grissini, yeah. Basically breadsticks.
Yeah, it’s gin. Maybe mostly.
I’m pretty sure I’m perspiring substances at this point.
Oh my god, my breath does stink like garlic!
Is someone getting more beer?
Lars has been cooking the most incredible things all weekend.
What’s with all the coveralls?
What’s with all the ping-pong balls?
Someone got beer.
Watch your step.
Watch your head.
Oh my god, I’m caught in Julie’s web!
As for that, indeed, perhaps all in attendance were caught in a web. Cult Logic’s web. Or Airplane’s web. Or perhaps some greater web of another art-filled weekend in Bushwick—not entirely unlike the past several years' worth of art-filled weekends in Bushwick.
One speaks of big changes looming now with imminence on the neighborhood's horizon. And maybe this is true and maybe it isn’t. It’s not exactly a new discourse, of course. For now, at any rate, one might as well make the most of this arguable interim. In marathon-like manner is one way. Endurance in a space, of a space, and so on.
For example, one might go so far as to imagine that Bushwick’s art scene itself has been in marathon mode for years now, and that foreseeable shifts might be likened to its grander opening, as well as—cue the treacle!—a perfect reason to just continue to run.
Ryan Ford’s sculpture in Cult Logic, after all, is a reminder that tipping points can still be fun.
Cult Logic can be viewed on Sunday the 22nd and Sunday the 29th, or by appointment.
The Bushwick art scene's tipping point, incidentally, will be the subject of the panel Confronting Bushwick tomorrow night at Bogart Salon, 56 Bogart Street. Reception at 6pm, panel 7-9pm.
Centotto, the gallery that Paul D'Agostino runs in his apartment in a different corner of Bushwick proper, closes its current exhibition Friday 7-10pm.