The Flatbush Artist’s Open Studio tour returns this year with new work by 26 incredible local artists, exhibiting painting, photography, multi-media work, sculpture, jewelry and more in fourteen homes around the neighborhood this weekend.
In this free, self-guided open studios tour between Newkirk Avenue and Albemarle Road, visitors can meet and talk with the artists about their work as well as purchase art, said artist Kathy Levine. Check out this map showing the full lineup of artists and exhibition addresses, open from 11am to 5pm on Saturday, November 12 and Sunday, November 13.
With many returning favorites, a newcomer this year is renowned sculptor Guo-Qing Zhang Heaton. Heaton works in lacquer, a media much more familiar in Asia than in the United States.
Multiple layers of sap from the lacquer tree are applied to sculpted forms and allowed to slowly dry until a rich, smooth and remarkably durable surface is created. The piece is polished using ever-finer abrasive materials; the final step is a rub down with bone ash and the natural oils from the artist’s hands.
“The process is an integral part of the work and its intensity is one of intimacy and repetition. Your hands and your vision are blended over time,” Guo-Qing explained. “One has to align your eye, your mind, and your hands in a kind of marathon over six months. There are also instances where the process places limits on what it possible.”
The lacquer tree is related to poison ivy, and while dried lacquer is safe to touch, the raw sap causes a painful rash that the artist must accept as part of the cost of producing works with lacquer’s beautiful luminosity.
“The rash goes away. It is a natural material that is poisonous, but it is also remarkably durable in finish and color,” Gou-Qing said. “Lacquer is the base into which you add ground stone pigments for color, and in the long finishing process you are effectively drawing out the balance between the lacquer and the introduced pigments. This is done by rubbing it with a fine abrasive powder and the oils of your own skin.”
Gou-Qing said that Asian viewers see lacquer pieces in a historical context, like Westerners looking at oil paintings. But for Americans, her lacquer works can float in a void. “This is a challenge because the craft and difficulty of lacquer making are generally not well understood in the West,” she said.
Guo-Qing’s work will be on display at 265 Rugby Road, along with pieces by Nancy Herman and Mary Ann Sekely.
Many of the other artists participating in the Open Studios art walk have been profiled previously in the Ditmas Park Corner. Kathy Levine, whose multimedia works explore the balance between humans and the environment will show along with Christine Newman and David Tumblety and 1408 Ditmas Avenue. Paul Catalanotto, whose polished frescoes were featured on Governor’s Island last year, will exhibit pieces created with layers of colored plaster at 1415 Dorchester Road.
Karen Friedland’s paintings were chosen for CAMBA Gardens; stop by 190 Marlborough Road to see her canvases along with photographs by Murray Gewirtz. In early meta-coverage of the Open Studio tour, the Corner featured a photo of Arturo Garcia finishing a painting of one of his favorite houses in the neighborhood — to exhibit in his home at 1206 Beverly Road.
Eric Pesso’s exhilarating wood sculptures are reclaimed from trees fallen in Prospect Park and around the neighborhood; they will be on view at 297 Argyle Road. You can see murals created by Juan Carlos Pinto year round (at Newkirk Plaza, Q Gardens, and elsewhere around Ditmas Park), but check out his works in other media in the basement of 220 Westminster.
CJ Segal-Isaacson will showcase her hand-crafted jewelry alongside her husband Adam Segal-isaacson’s photography, Diana Ardila’s paintings, and Elise Goldberg’s drawings at 455 Argyle Road.
The Open Studios tour is scheduled for 11am to 5pm on Saturday, November 12 and Sunday, November 13. Find a complete list of participating artists, with links to their works, online at the Flatbush Artist website. You can also find information on the Artists’ website about joining the group.