Monday, May 5, 2014

Throwback: Chashama's Art Exhibit at the Brooklyn Army Terminal

The Canvas

I interned at the Home Reporter newspaper about a year and a half ago; one of my first assignments was to attend Chashama's Art Exhibit at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. I don't entirely remember every detail about the exhibit (other than how breathtaking it was), so I had to pull up the article I wrote to refresh my memory:

On September 8 and 9, the Brooklyn Army Terminal glimmered with local artists’ paintings, three-dimensional canvases, sculptures, and photographs as a part of chashama studio’s open annual open studio event.

The event granted Brooklyn’s own independent artists a chance to showcase their work, allotting each artist a small room in which they could strew their pieces for the public’s viewing. Artists were visibly delighted to not only have the opportunity to display their finest artworks to the general public, but to meet other artists from the Brooklyn area and bask in the creativity. “It’s been really nice to have this event,” said Leola Bermanzohn, Brooklyn-raised painter and muralist. “It’s great to see local people coming through and learning about the artists here; and it’s great for connecting to the community.”

Artists were split up and situated in two different buildings labeled BAT A and BAT B in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, located at 140 58 Street in Sunset Park. Both buildings had their doors open to the general public—free of charge—and allowed visitors to move in between floors and peruse different exhibits.

The open house also acted as a competition; attendees could have opted to register online before or during the exhibit and vote for their favorite artists. The winner will have a chance to present his or her work at the Brooklyn Museum on December 1. Competition is not what incentivized artists to enroll in the open studio, however. “I think the competition aspect is the smallest part of it. It’s really the antithesis of what this is all about. The event is just a nice way to get the public involved,” explained Abby Goodman, featured artist.

Artists were both overwhelmed and humbled by the community’s response. At the entrance to each gallery, small notebooks overflowed with email addresses and phone numbers of people who were interested in staying abreast of the each artist’s progress. “It’s been an incredible opportunity. So many people have showed up,” said Tirtzah Basel, Israeli artist currently living and working in Brooklyn. Chashama’s second annual open studio event received an astounding communal response, leaving both artists and Brooklyn’s conjoining neighborhoods excited for next year’s event.

For more information on the event, the artists and the chance to vote, visit and navigate the “Sneak Preview of Our Artists” link.

The artist who made the picture above isn't quoted in the article, which surprises me (yeah, I surprise myself at times) because her artwork was by far the most creative and intriguing, in my estimation. Every canvas she made was made out of different colors and types of tape: electric, duct, scotch, etc. I'll admit: I have nothing insightful or profound to say with regard to her artwork. I can only romanticize it and say that I adore its originality. I'm sure we've all had to answer, "What constitutes art?" before for some class in which the teacher was trying to stretch our minds to an abstract realm. For me, originality usually constitutes art. If you can create something--anything--that hasn't been done before, you've created art. I don't mean to imply that unoriginality isn't artistic; if you can take something that's been done before and put a refreshing spin on it, you're artistic. I don't know; perhaps I'm trying too hard to reduce an issue that's too abstract and open-ended. But, seriously, who'd ever think to use TAPE to create a canvas? And how can that not be considered art? And if so, that begs the question: Do we judge art on its originality?

-Alex Hajjar

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