By Janet Alexander–
At this past weekend’s first ever GO, 1,708 Brooklyn-based artists opened their studios to the general public, transforming the city itself into a gallery. Distinguishing itself from other borough-centric open studio events, GO is a community curated project that allows you to register as a voter to decide which artists are featured in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum this December.
Out of the 254 participating photography studios, I managed to see five, beginning with Carleen Sheehan, who confessed that, “up until ten this morning, I wasn’t sure if I’d do it.” Combining original digital photography, screen and shots, Carleen’s digital photography collages highlight how nature is distorted through architecture to explore, “what does contemporary space feel like.” Over the course of the twenty years that she’s lived in her Williamsburg studio, Carleen witnessed the impact her creative peers had on the area’s development, and subsequently, believes GO is a means to sharing how, “it’s important for people to understand what artists are doing.”
Dana Kane, who’s been working out of her studio apartment since 1982, echoed similar sentiments, and chose to showcase her mix of digital and film photography in order to have, “a live community conversation.” Her Etherland series, composites of reflective surfaces and human figures, is the subject of a Guggenheim grant application from which she hopes to produce large prints of her work. Dana referred me to go see her friend, Jean Blackburn, who used to show at a gallery that eventually fell victim to the economic crash. She thought GO was a good opportunity to get her work back into the consciousness of the community, of which she’s been a part since 1984. Her digital prints of “imbedded social facades” resemble theaters sets, with images layered in and atop one another.
My next encounter was with a Wet Plate Collodion photography trio of veritable youngsters–Jolene Lupo, Mike Falco, and Richard Solinger–who’ve only been in-studio since Jolene completed her ICP web plate class this past June. “GO was a way of setting a deadline,” she told me, and Richard admitted, “we’ve only been shooting for a couple of weeks.” As the new kids on the block, they were apprehensive to participate, and surprised by how many artists are actually working and living around them, but ultimately they were excited for the exposure to get people aware and interested. Visitors, including my friend, Melisssa, were treated to a free web plate portrait.
Leila Morrisey is also relatively new to the neighborhood, having moved from Australia into Brooklyn just nine months ago. Leila had participated in the Bushwick Open Studios and was excited to showcase her Death and Beauty series, which combines oil paint, Canon 5D images, and lacquer. Although there is nothing like GO back in Australia, Leila wasn’t concerned about her door being open, “the people who come appreciate art and are making an effort because they’re genuinely curious.” Overall, GO was a refreshing change from the rushed and over-crowded gallery-hopping experience, not only offering a wide array of photographic work, but more significantly, a variety of image making perspectives and personalities.