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The following guest post is by City-as-School intern Angelize Santiago

On view through October 23 at Fountain House Gallery is Heavy Sauce, a group exhibition featuring a diverse range of artworks by seven artists. Curated by Gerasimos Floratos, a local artist who has been attending Fountain House Gallery exhibits since his teens, Heavy Sauce presents several unique perceptions of our city — some created with acrylics and others with fabrics, collages and varied media. The image featured above, Times Square Day, was painted by Gary Peabody.  A few more images of featured artworks follow:

Maybellene Gonzalez, Artist’s Quote, 2019, Acrylic on canvas

Alyson Vega, The Five Boroughs, 2019, Acrylic, wool felt, collage on canvas

Issa Ibrahim, Mad City, 2017, Acrylic and oil on canvas

Aracelis Rivera, The Tree, 2019, Mixed media and found objects on wood

Founded in 2000, Fountain House Gallery showcases the works of artists living with emotional challenges, providing them with opportunities to share their creative expressions with others. Located at 702 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street, Fountain House Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday: 11am-7pm and Sunday: 1-5pm

Photos of images:

1, 2 & 4 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 City-as-School intern Angelize Santiago

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I first came upon Roger Jones’s infectious aesthetic while visiting the group exhibit The Flâneur at Fountain House Gallery this past July. I then met the artist at Fountain House Gallery Open Studios in Long Island City, where I had the opportunity to speak to him.

When did you first start drawing?

As a kid, I was always scribbling and doodling. But when I was around 20, I began to become serious about art.

What inspired you at the time?

I started noticing the artists around West 42nd Street drawing portraits. I used to stop and watch them.

What were your subjects when you began drawing?

I began with portraits — mostly of women.

What inspires you these days? 

The programs at Fountain House and some of the other spaces I’ve been involved with.  And visiting museums is a great source of inspiration.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Picasso, Jackson Pollack and Van Gogh are some my favorites.  And I love the Congolese sculptor and painter Bodys Isek Kingelez., whose work I discovered at MoMA.

What about cultural influences?

African culture, Black culture and American culture, in general.

How has your art evolved since you first began to take it seriously?

I went from drawing portraits to focusing on faces. And these days I work with lots of repurposed materials, including coins and stamps that folks share with me.

How long do you usually spend on a piece?

Anywhere from two hours to two days.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

As much as I can. Most of it.  I’d say about eight hours a day.

What are some other activities that interest you?

I love going to the beach and spending time in Coney Island.

I discovered your work at the Fountain House Gallery. Have you exhibited elsewhere?

Yes. I’ve shown my work at several places including the ACE Hotel and Henry Street Settlement.

What are your favorite work settings?

I like working here at Fountain House Gallery studio in Long Island City and over at Community Access at 621 Water Street on the Lower East Side, where I grew up.

What media do you prefer to work with?

Acrylic, markers and sharpies. I also love to work with found materials.

What is the main source of your income?  

Cleaning buildings and other assorted tasks. I also sell my art. On weekends you can often find me at 14th Street and 1st Avenue.

How has your family responded to your artwork?

My girlfriend loves it.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m self-taught.

Where are you headed?

I’d like to get my work out there.  And I also want to teach art to others. I’d like to help people learn how to express themselves.

That sounds great! And I’m looking forward to seeing more of your artwork.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos of artworks and of artist, Lois Stavsky

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On view through September 2 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South, celebrating the recent acquisition of 24 works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Featuring a captivating range of quilts, found object sculptures and paintings, it is a testament to the skills, inventiveness and resourcefulness of these 20th century southeastern African-American artists.

The quilt featured above, Blocks, Strips, Strings and Half Squares, was fashioned from discarded fabrics in 2005 by Mary Lee Bendolph, a prominent member of the Alabama-based Gee’s Bend Collective. Several more artworks I captured on my recent visit to the exhibition follow:

The late Thornton Dial, The Last Day of Martin Luther King,1992, Mixed media

The late Delia Bennett, Housetop: Fractured Medallion Variation Quilt, c. 1955, cotton, rayon and synthetic

The late Magalene Wilson, One Patch Quilt, c.1950, Cotton, wool, synthetic, corduroy and seersucker

The late Hawkins Bolden, Untitled, c. 1985, Mixed media

The late Annie E. PetwayFlying Geese Variation Quilt, c. 1935, Pieced cotton and wool

Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South can be viewed through September 2 in the Perelman Building — at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Fairmount Avenues — a short walk from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s main building. For hours and directions, check here.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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On view through September 1 at the American Folk Art Museum in Lincoln Square is a wonderfully eclectic range of quilts gifted in 2018 to the museum by Werner and Karen Gundersheimer. Curated by Stacy C. Hollander, the exhibition showcases quilts collected by the couple over decades as they combed eastern Pennsylvania, the Midwest and the South in search of striking textiles..Featured above is Spider Web Quilt, fashioned with cotton in the 1920’s by an unidentified artist. Several more images from WALL POWER! follow — all by unidentified artists.

Jacob’s Ladder Variation Quilt, United States, 1930s, cotton

Pyramid Quilt, Pennsylvania, c.1910, silks and wools

Crazy Quilt, US, Late 19th century, Silks and velvets with embroidery

Friendship Album Quilt,, US, Early 20th century, Cotton

Located at 2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets), the museum is open Tuesday–Thursday: 11:30 am–7:00 pm; Friday: 12:00–7:30 pm; Saturday: 11:30 am–7:00 pm and Sunday, 12:00–6:00 pm. Admission is always free.

Photos of quilts by Lois Stavsky

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Always showcasing a wonderfully eclectic range of art in a variety of media, the rotating exhibitions at the Renate Albertsen-Marton Gallery in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, intrigue and delight. The mixed-media image featured above was fashioned with recycled elements by the self-taught Nigerian artist Samson Akinnire.  Several more images seen on opening night of Intrinisic follow:

Also by self-taught multidisciplinary Nigerian artist Samson Akinnire

Yonkers-based multidisciplinary artist Michael Cuomo, Mask, Repurposed sculpture

Brooklyn-based Ben Tyree, “Star Gazer,” Acrylic on canvas

Queens native Domingo Carrasco (left) with Samson Akinnire to his right — above photos by Brooklyn-based Austrian native Ida Kreutzer

Domingo CarrascoSamson Akinnire and Brooklyn-based fiber artist A. Holly Sphar (left to right)

The exhibit continues through September 27 at the RAM  Gallery — housed within The aRt Cafe & Bar, 884-886 Pacific Street in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Note: Also featured in Intrinsic — but not represented here — is Liberia-born, Brooklyn-based Trokon Nagbe.

Photo credits: 1-3, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 4 courtesy of the artist

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I first met Nazir Hedgepeth several weeks ago while I was walking along Broadway in Bushwick. He was sitting alongside several artworks that he had recently fashioned on a range of repurposed surfaces. I was at once intrigued by their raw outsider aesthetic. We more recently met up on the Lower East Side, where I had the opportunity to find out a bit about him.

When did you first begin to draw?  And what did you draw at the time?

I was seven or eight when I started drawing cartoons. I spent a lot of time watching Looney Toons on TV, and so I was always I drawing those Looney Tunes characters with crayons and pencils.

Did you share your art with anyone back then?

I remember sharing a drawing of me buttering toast. I liked it so much that I showed it to everyone.

Have you any other early art-related memories that stand out?

When I was nine years old, I broke my left hand while wrestling. While I was in Harlem Hospital, I met a painter who introduced me to sketching. He told me that I should paint or draw what I feel. I remember that vividly.

What inspires you these days to create art?

What I hear on the news and what’s happening around me. Just living!

Who are some of your favorite artists? Artists who inspire you?

Francis Bacon, Basquiat, Danny Antonucci

What about cultural influences? What are some of your cultural influences?

Skateboarding, 90’s films, Spike Lee and Instagram.

How has your art evolved within the past decade or so? 

Ten years ago, it was an expression of my sadness…my depression. It no longer always is. 

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Never!

What percentage of your time is devoted to art? 

All of it! Even when I’m skating and playing video games, I think about art.

Have you ever exhibited your work?  

Not in any kind of formal setting.

How important is the viewer’s response to you? 

I try to tell myself that I don’t care what others think of my work, but I actually do. I want those who see my art to walk away with a thought.

What is your favorite setting to work? 

I’d like to paint in my room, but it’s difficult. It’s small, and I like to throw the paint. I often end up working outside — in parking lots and just on the streets.

What are your favorite media?

I like painting with my hands, and I like working with acrylic.

What is your main source of income? 

Assorted odd jobs and selling paintings.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

They’re happy that I’m doing something I love, but they’d probably prefer that I were studying to become a doctor or a lawyer.  My family is quite artsy, though. My father is a musician. My stepfather did graffiti, and my cousin is a painter.

Have you had any kind of formal art education?

No. But I had one teacher, Mr. Rorick, at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies, who encouraged me to follow my passion. 

Where are you headed?

I don’t know.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To tell a story. To provoke thoughts in others that they might not otherwise have.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky;  photos 1, 3-5 & 7 courtesy of the artist; 2, 6 & 8 Lois Stavsky

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The face pictured above, Incident #2 – Government Approved, was fashioned by the late self-taught artist David Wojnarowicz with acrylic and collaged paper on composition board. Following are several more faces in a variety of media that I’ve recently captured in a range of largely alternative art spaces:

Harlem-based Guy Woodard, Untitled, 2014, Ballpoint pen on paper — as seen at Howl! in the East Village

Yonkers-based multi-disciplinary artist Michael Cuomo, Untitled, 2018, Oil pastel & Indian ink on bristol paper — as seen in his YOHO studio

Queens-based Robert Chin, Untitled, 2005, Acrylic on vinyl — as seen at the Creedmoor Living Museum

NYC-based self-taught painter Erik Hanson, Underpass, Oil on canvas — as seen at Postmasters in Tribeca

Multidisciplinary artist John Tursi, Untitled, Mixed media — as seen  at the Creedmoor Living Museum

The late Pacific Northwest First Nations artist Beau Dick, Ghost of Christmas Presents, 2016, Mixed media — as seen at White Columns in the West Village

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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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 develop  my 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.

Interview and photos by Lois Stavsky

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For “The Flâneur,” currently on view at Fountain House Gallery in Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen, artists were asked to assume the role of a the 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

Nelia Gibbs, Wandering, 2018, Acrylic on canvas

Barry Senft, People, 2019, Acrylic on 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.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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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.

Images of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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