I met Rushane Brown several months ago at the Living Museum on the grounds of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center. I was delighted to — more recently — have the opportunity to interview the talented young artist.
When did you first start drawing?And what did you draw at the time?
I was about six when I started to draw. I was living in the hills of Jamaica at the time — surrounded by plantations with marijuana crops. I vividly remember the soldiers arriving on helicopters to destroy these crops. The helicopters fascinated me. They were the first things I drew.
Why did you start?Do you remember what motivated you to do art?
I thought it was cool to be able to bring things to life on paper. At first I imitated what I saw — like those helicopters. Then I began to copy what I saw in books, especially cars and trucks. I, also, loved cartoons and when I was eight, I began to draw cartoons,Later on, I became fascinated by medical illustrations.
Do any school-related art memories stand out?
All the stick figures I was drawing when I should have been paying attention!
Who are some of your current inspirations?
The other artists here at the Living Museum always inspire me. I’m also inspired by: the late American fantasy and science fiction artist Frank Frazetta; the amazingly talented, award-winning Tom McFarland and the late comic book writer and Marvel Comics publisher, Stan Lee.
What about cultural influences? Have you any?
Ancient Egyptian culture is an influence.
How has your art evolved within the past decade or so?
Back in JHS, I was just imitating what I saw or what others were doing. I did not have my own identity as an artist. But when I started to attend Art & Design High School, I began to to developmy own style after seeing so many unique ones.
Are you generally satisified with your completed works?
It depends. Sometimes I look at something I did that I thought was finished, and I want to either redo it or add to it.
How long do you usually spend on a piece?
Sometimes a couple of days, and sometimes weeks.
What percentage of your time is devoted to art?
About 85% of it. When I’m not focusing on visual art, I’m often playing my guitar.
Have you ever exhibited your work?
I’ve shown in exhibits here at the Living Museum and at Art and Design High School.
How important is the viewer’s response to you?
I create my art for myself. It is a means of self-expression. I don’t do art to please people, but I’m happy if someone likes it.
What are your favorite media?
I’d mostly been working with pen and ink, But I’ve begun painting with acrylic, and I’ve recently started repurposing discarded materials — such as wood chips — into my art.
Where are you headed?
My dream is to one day own my own gallery.
What do you see as the artist’s role in society?
Our role is to recreate the world. We think outside the box. Nothing would happen without us.
For “The Flâneur,” currently on view at Fountain House Gallery in Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen, artists were asked to assume the role of athe flâneur, a passionate spectator, as they reflect on urban life. The widely diverse results range from the realistic to the fantastical — all distinctly alluring. Pictured above is Divina Particula Aurae: The Divine Spirit in the Human Person, a digital painting by Bryan Michael Greene. Several more images from the exhibition follow:
Gary Peabody, South of France, 2019, Acrylic and pencil on canvas
Issa Ibrahim, Dad Blast!, 2015, Acrylic and glitter on unstretched canvas
Curated by Adam Yokell, “The Flâneur” continues through August 7 at Fountain House Gallery. Located at 702 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street, Fountain House Gallery “provides an environment for artists living and working with mental illness to pursue their creative visions and to challenge the stigma that surrounds mental illness.” The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday: 11am-7pm and Sunday: 1-5pm.
For twenty years Harlem-native Guy Woodard used his exquisite artistic talents pursuing a “criminal” career as a counterfeiter and forger. This career ended when he was sentenced to serve seven years in prison. With no oil paints or turpentine at his disposal, Woodward started to hone his skills and fashion artwork with a 25-cent Bic Pen. After he was released from prison, Woodard met with the head of The Fortune Society — a nonprofit organization that “supports successful reentry from incarceration and promotes alternatives to incarceration” — and is now sharing his talents with others as a teacher.
Currently on view at Howl! is We the People, a solo exhibition featuring Woodard’s ballpoint pen drawings, along with several forgeries of documents — such as Trayvon Martin’s diploma from Howard University — that spur dialog around issues of inequality, racism and social justice.
The artwork featured above, Poor, was fashioned with ball point pen on paper in 2001-2002. Several more images captured on a recent visit to We the People follow:
My Boy, 2002, Digital Print
We the People, 2002, Ball point pen on paper
Nightmare, 2002, Ball point pen on paper
Take a Knee, 2019, Mixed media
We the People is open from 11am to 6pm, Wednesday – Sunday at 6 East 1st Street. Guy Woodard will lead an evening of art-making as part of the free Vega Arts Workshop series this Wednesday, July 10 from 7–9 PM. Check here for information.
I came upon Marlon Mullen‘s distinctly intriguing aesthetic at JTT on Manhattan’s Lower East Side earlier this year. A largely non-verbal artist with autism spectrum disorder, Marlon Mullen fashions paintings — primarily based on images from covers of art magazines — at NIAD Art Center, a Bay Area art studio that supports artists living with disabilities. I was delighted to once again view his work — this time at the 2019 Whitney Biennial.
After viewing his masterly works in several Fountain House Gallery exhibitions, I met the wonderfully talented artist Miguel Diego Colon at Fountain House Open Studio several months ago. Recently, I had the chance to find out a bit about him and view more of his artworks:
When did you first begin drawing?
I was four years old and in Pre-K.I was very shy —afraid of everybody. Drawing was how I could express myself, and everyone seemed to like my work. I still remember my Pre-K classmates imitating it.
What is your earliest art-relatedmemory?
I saw an image of Thor, and felt that I, too, could do that. He wasflying up to the heavens on a stormy day with his harness raised and his cape blowing in the wind.
And your first drawing?
I remember drawingSpiderman spinning a web and catching a spider.
What about cultural influences? Have any particular cultures or movements impacted or inspired your aesthetic?
I identify as Latino — as my family is from Puerto Rico — and I’m certain that has impacted my aesthetic. Among my primary influences are those people who fought against injustice — Martin Luther King…Malcolm X…Muhammed Ali. And movements of resistance such as Black Lives Matter.
How much time do you generally spend on a piece?
On the average — two to three months. I used to work on two to three pieces at once. But these days I tend to focus on one at a time.
What is your favorite work setting?
The Fountain House Studio I share with other Fountain House artists in Long Island City. I’m there three to four hours a day three or four times a week. I would spend more time in the studio if I could.
Have you any favorite media?
I like them all.
Have you any favorite colors? We’ve noticed you use blue a lot.
I like blue. It’s subtle — not too attention-grabbing.
Have you exhibited your work?
Yes. Among the spaces I’ve shown in are: SVA, NYU, the National Academy of Design, the Arts Students League, the Rush Arts Gallery, the Emerging Collector Gallery and here at Fountain House Gallery.
How important is the viewer’s response to your art?
It is important. I paint with a sense of what my work will mean to the viewer. That is my responsibility as an artist.
Are you generally satisfied with your final piece?
Have you a formal art education?
I attended the High School of Art and Design, and I earned a BFA with Honors from the School of Visual Arts. I, also, studied at the Art Students League and worked at the National Academy of Design and New York Academy of Art.
Would you say your educational experience was worthwhile?
I have mixed feelings. I often felt that I was spinning my wheels trying to be a genius.
Do any particular teachers stand out?
Irwin “Greeny” Greenberg.While I was a student at Art & Design, I used to leave my house every morning — while it was still dark outside — to attend his painting class, the Old Hat Club that took place before the school day officially began. There I learned about light and dark and shadows. I became more interested in realism than in super heroes!
How has your aesthetic evolved through the years?
When I first began attending SVA, I thought about concentrating on animation. It seemed like a good career move — a way to make good money. But it wasn’t for me. I wanted to find my own voice, so I switched first to Illustration and then to Fine Art. Back at SVA, I experimented with figurative work and huge interiors with drips. Now my work is more community-based. My process is more thoughtful these days.
I was a patient at Gracey Square Hospital when I heard about Fountain House from one of the other patients there. That was in January 2018.
How has Fountain House impacted you?
It opened up an entire new world for me, and it has provided me with a studio to paint and a gallery to show my work. It has also provided me with a supportive community.
A huge powerful mural of yours — “Stand Up”— isnow on view on a massive billboard on Flatbush Avenue near the Kings Plaza Shopping Center.I remember when you were still sketching segments of it.Can you tell us something about its theme? Its intent?
I was interested in creating a public mural that reflects the many forms of oppression that I have faced and observed in my community here in New York City. Among these are: the destructive forces of racism, sexism, inequality, and the stigma against those struggling with mental illness. It is my way of providing solidarity with others who are oppressed.
How were you able to access such a prominent space?
Betty Eastland, a peer-specialist and artist working at Fountain House Studio, had sent me a link to 14×48, a non-profit that repurposes vacant billboards as public art spaces. 14×48‘s mission is to create opportunities for artists to engage more with public art. I sent 14×48 a sketch, along with a proposal and examples of other paintings on the theme of social justice. I was amazed when I found out that I had been selected.
This was your first public mural. How have folks responded to it?
Everyone has been so supportive. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.I would love to create more work in public spaces. I think of this project as an audition to do more public works.
What do you see as the artist’s role in society?
To make a statement. That’s what art should do.
Where are you headed?
I don’t know. But I do know that I will continue painting. Painting is like prayer for me.
Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; Photos: 1 courtesy of the artist; 2-6 & 8 Lois Stavsky
Note: To find out more about the 14×48 billboard project, check here.
Currently on view at the model, community-driven, Yonkers-based Blue Door Art Center is “Rainbow Connection – The Colors of Pride.” An homage to Pride Month and the LGBTQ community, the exhibition features an eclectic selection of works by a diverse group of artists crossing cultures, generations and backgrounds. While some of the featured artists are self-taught, others are graduates of prestigious art schools. And while some have approached the theme with the bright, bold colors of the rainbow flag, others have responded to it with subtle, muted tones. All intrigue! The image featured above, The Trans Civil Rights Battle, was fashioned by Westchester-based Anton Pollard aka Anton Modern Art. Several more follow:
Featuring a delightful array of artworks from students in 34 different schools and five community centers, Windows: Framing the Future continues through this week at BRIC.
Largely taking part beyond the walls of BRIC House, BRIC‘s talented teaching artists work directly with students throughout the school year, culminating in an exhibition that brings the entire community together.
The mural featured above was created by students — working along with teaching artist Avani Patel — in grades 6-8 at I.S.281 in Gravesend. Soon to be installed in the school’s auditorium, it was “inspired by artists such as Keith Haring, Daze and Kandinsky.” Several more images from Windows: Framing the Future, The 31st Annual Contemporary Art Education Exhibition follow:
I first came upon Ukraine-native, Tel Aviv-based Zoya Cherkassky‘s infectious — often witty — folksy aesthetic in a solo exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem last year. That exhibit, Pravda, focused on the artist’s experiences and the collective experience of the over one million Russians who had immigrated to Israel. Currently on view at Fort Gansevoort in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District is Soviet Childhood, a selection of recent artworks featuring memories from Zoya Cherkassky’s childhood in the Soviet Union of the 1980’s — its final years before its collapse. The image featured above, Vareniki, was fashioned with oil on linen in 2019. Several more images from Soviet Childhood, the artist’s first solo exhibition in the US, follow:
Nuchaku, 2017, Oil on linen,
The Voice of America, 2019, Oil on linen
Maverick, 2019, Oil on linen
Mama, 2019, Oil on linen
On the Way to School, 2019, Oil on linen
The exhibition continues through next Saturday, June 15, at Fort Gansevoort. Located at 5 Ninth Avenue, the gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm.
“Beef Issue at Fort Sill,” along with an accompanying poem, this 1973 painting references a 19th-century government ration, as the US Government often sent rancid meat to fulfill its treaty obligations.
“All the Tired Horses in the Sun,” Oil on canvas, 1971-72
“Mama and Papa Have the Going Home Shiprock Blues,” Acrylic and oil on canvas,1966
“Tale of a Bigfoot Incident in American Vernacular” — referencing the massacre of over 300 Lakota men, women and children in Pine Ridge, South Dakota — Oil and mixed media, 1966
Exploring the various roles that food plays in our minds and lives, Fountain House Gallery‘s current exhibit, At the Table, presents dozens of tasty artworks in a range of styles and mediums. The image featured above, Let’s Have a Beer Together, was painted by Fountain House artist Elizabeth Borisov. A small sampling of artworks on exhibit in At theTable follows:
Multidisciplinary artist Boo Lynn Walsh, Bali Bounty, Hand-painted and dyed Indonesian-style batik
Queens-based multidisciplinary artist Susan Spangenberg, Chicken Run, Acrylic on found wood
Queens-based multimedia artist Issa Ibrahim, The Minstrel, Acrylic on canvas board
Multimedia artist Barry Senft, Dinner, Acrylic on canvas
Curated by Monty Blanchard and Leslie Tcheyan, the tantalizing exhibit continues through June 12. Located at 702 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street, Fountain House Gallery “provides an environment for artists living and working with mental illness to pursue their creative visions and to challenge the stigma that surrounds mental illness.” The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday: 11am-7pm and Sunday: 1-5pm.