In the Studio: Michael DeLucia and Bushwick Open Studios

Feature image: Andrew Cornell Robinson, ceramics in progress (see below).

I missed seeing Michael DeLucia’s recent nearly sold-out solo exhibition at Eleven Rivington, so I visited his Bushwick studio along with about two dozen art aficionados and curators from the Sculpture Center in Long Island City.

The same month, I also enjoyed Bushwick’s Open Studio scene: its diversity, its fabulous, all-volunteer organization, and its free attractions — all shown in a cool Iphone app and a pink folio-sized 88-page guide to hundreds of art studios in the three-mile area. Several art/performance hubs boasted live entertainment and food. A few favorite Bushwick studios are listed below.

Michael DeLucia’s art embodies many contradictions:
• The artist creates objects recognizable as both objects and ‘non-objects.’
• He uses geometric forms to say something about ‘non-forms.’

Michael DeLucia, Box with Panel
Photo by Jan Garden Castro

The private entrance to DeLucia’s 3000-square-foot studio near a giant tortilla factory is easy to miss on the outside. Inside, in addition to a chop saw, a wet/dry vac, and shelves of power and hand tools and supplies lining the front walls, a windowless back room is equipped for computer modeling and digital image-making (using a Rhino CAD program), drafting, and vector plotting.

The majority of the main space was filled with actual objects and with DeLucia’s computer-carved geometric versions in plywood. The incising of the plywood is done in another location, but other details of finishing are done in the studio. His wall pieces start with 4×8-foot sheets of ¾” plywood. These are “fluted” or otherwise cut with a computer controlled router to “establish a plane” and are then painted. The artist then cuts them again from the information in a computer modeled object which “interferes” with the first cut plane to produce the effect of cubes, cylinders, and other volumes removed from the material.

“The thing I consider the sculpture,” the artist told the group, “is what’s been removed – the scupture itself is immaterial – what’s left in the wood is a record of the sculpture, like a footprint from a foot stepping in mud.”

Among the sculpture studios in Bushwick, here are a few that stood out.

Eric Lindveit’s studio
Photo Courtesy Artist

1. Eric Lindveit (www.ericlindveit.com, elindveit.wordpress.com/ )
Eric is original and a consummate craftsman. His immaculate studio presents a stunning display of tools and materials. He creates hyper-realistic tree bark –the epidermal layers — using paint, paper, burlap, pencil, and sawdust. This is almost the opposite of Michael DeLucia’s process and focus. Eric’s tree portraits also reveal signs of decay and, in this sense, reminded me of Roxy Paine’s early diseased mushrooms and fungi. Lindveit’s craft level is worth checking out!

2. Kyu Seok Oh (www.kyuseokoh.com) makes chairs, tables, and sheep from handmade paper. His mold-making equipment appears to be quite straight-forward, and a loft area held molded parts. His work has appeared in Times Square and in large venues. What makes his forms work is their curving, elemental style.

3. Andrew Cornell Robinson (www.acrstudio.com/ ). Andrew’s ceramic collaborations with a writer friend are acerbic and witty. For some pieces, he favors blue on white glazes that seem to allude to 18th Century traditions, but the shapes and language subvert formalism. Many works play with sexual/sensual/dangerous motifs/identities. As his website shows, his range includes objects, performance, painting, and collage. He frequently shows friends his latest work on Facebook.

Randomland by Rebecca Riley
Photo by Jan Garden Castro

4. Rebecca Riley (www.rebeccarileyart.com) Rebecca Riley was working on a map painting, Randomland, — a huge, intricate maplike work that unifies vast amounts of tiny detailed structures, systems, and relationships in sweeping panoramas. Her paper fragments and accumulations all are various1y cut, painted, and layered. The map painting is now installed at the mostly glass public Flatiron Prow Art Space through September 22 (23rd St. at Fifth Avenue, curated by Cheryl McGinnis Projects). Riley adds to it every Tuesday afternoon.

5. Guy C. Corriero Guy’s ceramics, spotted in his Plaster Works studio, challenge traditional notions of ceramic art. They take off from the distorted art of Caroll Dunham and the monumental sculpture of William Tucker, for whom he worked starting in the 1980s. The awkward, heavy,
confrontational forms with glossy, colorful glazes are slow-fired and seem new to the field.

Bushwick’s name comes from Boswijck, meaning “little town in heavy woods.” The three-square-mile swath of studios is sandwiched between industrial buildings, domestic spaces, churches, a range of older ethnic to emerging-yuppie commerce, and a gaggle of dangerously-dangling cable TV wires. During my Open Studios tour, I happened into an art-filled live/work schoolhouse where a young man in a suit was singing, playing electric guitar, and roller skating around a large art-filled space. One hub, HolyBos, a former church at 626 Bushwick Avenue, had satanic exterior art. Inside were two museum-sized works: a freestanding installation about 20 feet high by Ben Wolf led to a 12 x 20-foot painting of a modern day Caravaggesque vision. This site’s weekend art programs included exhibitions, an opera, live music, and video screenings. These kinds of activated alternative spaces made Bushwick’s sixth open studio year a huge success despite the logistics challenges of its three-mile terrain – impossible to see it all! — and intermittent rain.

On September 8-9, the entire Brooklyn arts community is invited to participate in GO: a community-curated open studio project, organized by the Brooklyn Museum in conjunction with its exhibition opening December 1, 2012. See www.gobrooklynart.org for updates.

Question to readers: Would you rather see more photos of studio spaces or close-ups of art? Post your comments!

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