Monday, March 11, 2013

Armory Art Week's "Brooklyn Night" and Our First Trip to Williamsburg (Since Moving to Brooklyn)


Who would win in a fight involving a horse versus a zebra -- true question indeed.
This past Saturday, the SO and I had a major realization -- we hadn't been to Williamsburg since moving to Brooklyn last fall.  And so we decided to rectify that situation, and The Armory Show provided the perfect excuse.  Armory Arts Week was hosting a "Brooklyn Night" where galleries throughout Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn opened their doors to the public.  So the SO, my hot pink beanie and I set out for Williamsburg.

Sizing up the llama

As we made our way to the G train (my first time!), we stopped by The Invisible Dog gallery in Cobble Hill.  March 9th happened to be the opening night of Oliver Jeffers and Aaron Ruff's "The Exploded Mind of Mulholland Hwang."  The exhibition was fantastic -- as soon as you walk in, you are transformed to a boy's small room and surrounded by his many large drawings of animals.  I loved the paintings "profiling" an animal, which would outline its strengths (e.g., can climb mountains at up to 60 degree angles) and its weaknesses (e.g., its really stupid).  Clearly, Mulholland Hwang is on a quest to find which beast is the mightiest of them all in the animal kingdom.

Oliver Jeffers was awarded one of the best illustrated children's books in 2012 from The New York Times Book Review, and "The Exploded Mind of Mulholland Hwang" demonstrated why.  For children, the paintings and sculptures were fun and easy to understand, but there was a beauty that adults could appreciate.  In little corners, you would find miniature sculptures of a scene in the wild, with such detail that made you wonder, how did they do it?  My absolute favorite piece of the exhibit was one of lobsters battling butterflies that had a caption of "Fighting the Monarchy."  Not only were the colors of red against the blue absolutely gorgeous, but the idea of two lobsters fighting against a swarm of butterflies just made me laugh our loud.  I loved it so much that the SO considered asking the curator how much it cost, but then we got discouraged by the "Price Upon Request" sign and what it always means -- that you can't afford it.  Maybe next time.

Lobsters fighting the monarchy

A pig on an island

After finally catching the G train to Williamsburg, we went to the Bunnycutlet Gallery to view "Printmouse."  The "Printmouse" exhibit is a collection of silkscreen prints by 23 artists employed by an animation studio based in LA and NYC.  The prints were also fun, but maybe not as safe for kids.  The subject matter tended to be more adult (e.g., the live bunny and bunny skull conjoined together in "Bunny Twins") or, at the very least, more teen (e.g., the many states of Buddha, including a Buddha that was going to the bathroom, in "Fun W/ Buddha").  My favorite of the exhibition was "KUDZU" by Alexandria Kwan.  The little forest character on a quest seemed to remind me of Saturday morning cartoons or the anime I used to watch, like "Kiki's Delivery Service."  For $50, you could take one of the prints home with you, but unfortunately I couldn't think of where I would put "KUDZU" in our home. 

"KUDZU"
That night at Bunnycutlet Gallery we also enjoyed Eric Dyer's pop-up video installation, "Rate of Light."  Dyer used the zoetrope to create animations projecting on a screen in the gallery and also on a screen on the street right outside.  It was interesting to see up close the still discs -- I'm sure there is a technical term here that I just don't know --  full of colorful pictures, and then to see what they could do.  While we were leaving, Dyer was setting up an animation of a couple riding their bikes.  Setting up the machine was not easy; you could see the patience it took to set the discs exactly right, making us appreciate the the hard work that goes into animation (and entertainment for that matter).

Bunnycutlet Gallery

A close-up of the disc

Animation of a couple riding bikes
On our final art gallery tour, we just walked across the street to see "Rust Belt" by Sean Hemmerle at Front Room Gallery.  "Rust Belt" was undoubtedly more sober than the other two exhibitions we had just seen, as the subject matter was abandoned buildings along the "Rust Belt" from Chicago to New York.  At first, we actually thought the photographs were manipulated.  They were striking, for sure, but who would use these beautiful buildings, although decaying, as parking spots or storage for random brick pyramids?  But upon closer examination (and perhaps a through reading of the gallery brochure), we discovered that the images were very real.  If the purpose of "Rust Belt" was to make us a little more aware of conditions outside our Brooklyn bubble, then it succeeded, in a very beautiful and profound way.  

From our point of view, "Brooklyn Night" by Armory Arts Week was a success.  It reminded us that we have these wonderful galleries at our disposal, and we left the night vowing to not wait until next year to visit again.

Pyramid of bricks

Nicest parking lot I've seen

Uncle Sam leaving the theater
The Invisible Dog
51 Bergen Street, Thurs to Sat (1-7), Sun (1-5)
"The Exploded Mind of Mulholland Hwang" runs until May 18th.

Bunnycutlet Gallery
158 Roebling Street, Wed to Sun (2-8)
"Printmouse" runs until March 24th.

Front Room Gallery
147 Roebling Street, Fri to Sun (1-6) and by appointment
"Rust Belt" ended on March 10th, but Sean Hemmerle will present "Rust Belt" at the New York Public Library in May. 


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