It is too trite to say, but Brooklyn has art coming out of her ears. However, Kennis B. Baptiste was extremely surprised about Brooklyn's lack of art exhibitions that focused on the borough's connection to its creative inhabitants. Luckily, Baptiste lives and works in The Rising Arts (TRA) Gallery, a lovely space tucked away on Claver place. Needless to say, he retaliated by organizing and holding the first "Represent Brooklyn" exhibition at his homestead last year. After the success of 08', there was no question about a repeat in 09'. This year's "Represent Brooklyn" contains painting, photography, and sculpture by 40, "Artists from Brooklyn whose artwork is inspired by Brooklyn," as the tagline on the website explicates. Baptiste organized a panel of 5 judges to pick from the plethora of submissions. The result is an extremely diverse (duh) aggregation of work that shares a common heart. The show benefited from Baptiste's natural curatorial eye (he also serves on the board/curates for SONYA (South of the Navy Yard Artists)). This year, people took notice; including, borough President Marty Markowitz, whose office awarded Baptiste a Proclamation from the city.
While visiting the gallery, I got the chance to speak with one of the featured artists, Katherine Gressel. Below is her painting, "Flatbush Avenue". She explained that the work was originally done in 2006 for an exhibition related to the Atlantic Yards Project; however, its relevance to "Represent Brooklyn" was too much for her not to submit to this year's show.
Gressel is very interested in what we glean while traveling in automobiles. Our scenery is constantly changing, our perception is fractured, we are increasing traffic. These are some aspects of Brooklyn that interest Gressel. What Brooklyn offered other artists in terms of subject matter run the gamut from contemporary American religion to pure existential expression (see "Dime Jersey" by Adam Taye and "Contigo" by Nuria Rabanillo de la Fuente respectively, below).
"Represent Brooklyn" ends this Saturday(5/9), but TRA is having a closing reception from 4-8pm to send it out in style. Baptiste expends a tremendous amount of time and energy on the shows at TRA--he only presents 2 to 3 exhibitions a year--so I suggest a vist, and quickly. Pertinent visiting info below. See you Saturday.
The Rising Arts Gallery 35 Claver Place Brooklyn, NY 11238
Hours: M-F Appointment Only Sat. and Sun. 12-6pm