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Currently on view at the Bronx Museum of the Arts is “Bronx Calling: The Fifth AIM Biennial” featuring over 65 artists who took part in the 2018 and 2019 cycles of the Bronx Museum’s AIM (Art in the Marketplace) Fellowship program. In this richly diverse visual meditation on our current uncertain times, the artists on exhibit grapple with a range of issues from the personal to the political in varied styles and media.

The image featured above is a close-up from a huge, commanding mural, “Protest and Counter Protest,” crafted with latex, acrylic paint and crayon by the multidisciplinary, socially-conscious artist Jesse Kreuzer. Representing the current divisiveness in American society that has at times turned violent, it spans eight plywood panels.

Several more images from “Bronx Calling…” follow:

Puerto Rican visual and teaching artist Carlos Wilfredo Encarnación, one of several mesmerizing images on exhibit from his ongoing series “Florido (Flowery),” Polyptych of annatto powder, acrylic, gouache, spray paint, tissue paper on wood panels. The artist states, “I construct symmetrical patterns of imaginary connections between my memories, motherland and myself…I mediate with my identities as a spiritual/gay/Puerto Rican/man, seeking for them to coexist.”

Buenos Aires-born, Tel Aviv-bred and New York-based artist Gabriela Vainsencher, “Mom,” Porcelain. Described by the artist as a self-portrait that began as a small drawing, it was inspired by living through the Covid-19 pandemic, during which she cared for her daughter and worked from home “doing all the mom things…”.

Brooklyn-based, Chilean-born visual artist and educator Catalina Schliebener Muñoz, close-up from “Satanic Panic Series,” site specific mixed-media installation in which the artist draws on images, objects, and narratives associated with childhood and explores gender, sexuality, and class

Brooklyn-based artist and arts educator Katherine Toukhy — whose work is largely inspired by her Egyptian ancestry — close-up from “The lies she didn’t think she knew emerged into something true,” Mixed-media installation

Interdisciplinary Puerto Rican artist and scientist Ricardo Cabret — whose work fuses the disciplines of computer science, code and painting –“Tierra destruida (Destroyed Earth),” Gel polymers, marble dust, acrylic paint on canvas

Mexico-native interdisciplinary artist Gabino Abraham Castelán — whose work largely reflects the “histories of subjugation and the worker experience,” — “Our Mothers Have Not Abandoned Us,” Mixed media

Co-curated by Ian Cofre and Eva Mayhabal Davis, the exhibition continues through March 20. Located at 1040 Grand Concourse, the Bronx Museum’ is open 1:00 to 6:00 PM, Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is free, but all visitors must reserve a ticket. You can reserve your ticket HERE

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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Located in the glass-walled lobby of FIT’s Pomerantz Center, the Art and Design Gallery features works fashioned by FIT students, faculty, alumni and select outside artists. On view now through January 23, 2022 is the tantalizing group exhibition, Journal and Pattern, showcasing work in a range of media from distinctive illustrations of a shoe collection on paper to a huge, mesmerizing crochet installation. On a recent visit to the gallery, I had the opportunity to capture several images.

The image featured above, Walking Palm, was crafted with yarn and found wood by the wonderfully talented NJ-based, socially and environmentally-conscious fiber artist Woolpunk. Fashioned in 2018, it was originally installed at Morir Soñando, a multimedia group exhibition curated by Alex Santana at the Knockdown Center in Queens. To its left is a sketch from the “Travel Journals” of the renowned educator and illustrator Bil Donovan projected onto a screen.

Several more images of works on view in Journal and Pattern follow:

Award-winning FIT BFA Candidate, fashion designer Esther Yitao Li — from the Supima Collection

Moss-like sculpture by FIT Fine Arts Student Chloe Apostle, “Untitled,” Mixed media

Artist and educator Melanie Reim, “Shoe Stories: A Quarantine Journey of My Life Through My Shoes”

Herbalist/Artist Donna Troy Cleary, PPE, Painted mannequin head, crocheted yarn, stuffed with reused plastic bags

Located at FIT, 227 West 27th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan, the Art and Design Gallery is open 9 am to 6 pm daily. 

Photos of artworks: Lois Stavsky

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With her keen eye, sensitive soul and boundless passion, Korean-American photographer Kelly Han. deftly captures a hugely impressive range of subjects. Currently on view in a solo exhibition at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning and in Fountain House Gallery‘s “Small Works” annual show, Kelly Han‘s elegant, artful photographs delight and provoke. While visiting Kelly’s exhibit at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to her:

When did you first hold a camera in your hand with the intent of capturing an image?

I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember, but I first become serious about photography when I was in college at SUNY—Geneseo. I spent one of my college semesters in Florence, Italy. I loved being in a new and different city. The experience of exploring the city and taking photos there — that elicited positive feedback — made me want to study photography.

You have since produced an amazingly impressive body of work. Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

I’m particularly interested in different cultures, traditions, ceremonies and rituals. I love to travel, learn about them and photograph them.

How has your photography evolved in the last decade?

I’ve perfected my relationship with both the camera and subject. I’m less inhibited and more at ease when capturing my subject. I strive to produce images with interesting content that are technically excellent, as well.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your attempts to capture a moment?

I use natural light, so having the lighting that works to bring out the eyes and capture the colors — as to best enhance them — can be a challenge. And another challenge is trying to capture a particular scene when there are people in the way.

How long do you generally spend on the editing process?

I’m not a big fan of cropping or photoshopping images. So the amount of time I spend on editing a single image varies from no time at all to an entire day if the photo needs close attention.

I’ve seen your wonderful photos at Fountain House Gallery and now here at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.  What are some other sites that have hosted your photography?

I’ve also exhibited at the Salmagundi Club, Jay Hawkins Gallery, Local Project, Silks Building, Josephine Herrick Project/NAMI, Too Tired Project, and the Mayor’s Office NYC.

How important is the viewer’s response to you?

Of some importance. I would like the viewer to be moved by my photos.

Do any particular memories stand out?

There are many. Rituals, in particular, stand out. I remember feeling that I was about to get burned at the cremation ceremony in Bali, where many of the dead are cremated on the same day. It is a massive celebration marked by blazing flames and organized chaos!

How has your family responded to your passion for photography? When I was younger, they didn’t encourage me. They didn’t see it as a practical career path. But now they are very supportive.

Have you any favorite photographers?

Yes. I especially like the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. His black and white photos depicting gold mines are among my favorite. And I love the late NYC-based Helen Levitt’s street photography. 

You have a degree in Studio Art from SUNY—Geneseo. Have you studied elsewhere?

Yes. I’ve taken classes at ICP, SVA, Parsons and the Arts Students League.

Where are you headed?

I am in the process of applying to an MFA program in Photography, and I’m interested in advancing my career as a photographer.

What is your dream assignment?

Working as a photojournalist covering cultural events.

Good luck! We are looking forward to seeing more of your wondrous photography.

Featured images:

1. White Samba Costume

2. Men Celebrating Holi

3. Children Celebrating Holi

4. Jericoacoara Horseman

5. London Eye

6. Brooklyn Bridge

Note: Kelly Han‘s solo exhibition, Portraits of Strength and Resilience, continues through January 15, 2022 at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, and other select images remain on exhibit in the group show Small Works at Fountain House Gallery through December 29.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy Kelly Han.

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Along with its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC is home to one of the largest and most diverse collections of American art in the world. Among its works on exhibit is a treasure trove of art by self-taught artists. The image featured above, “Carnival,” was fashioned with commercial yarn by the award-winning Native American weaver Linda Nez in 1992.

Several more images of artworks in a wide range of media by self-taught artists — captured on my recent visit to SAAM — follow:

The late Iowa-based husband & wife farmhands Clarence and Grace Woolsey, “Untitled,” Bottlecaps, wood and wire

The late Hungarian-American painter and all-around Renaissance man Alex Bogardy, “The Clinic,” ca. 1965-1970, Oil on canvas board

The late — now legendary — Alabama-based African American artist Thornton Dial Sr., “The Beginning of Life in the Yellow Jungle,” 2003, Found objects and spray paint on canvas on wood

Alabama-born multidisciplinary African-American artist Lonnie Holley, “Yielding to the Ancestors While Controlling the Hands of Time,” ca. 1992, Oil on wood and metal

The late Miami-based African American artist Purvis Young, “The Struggle,” 1973-1974, Acrylic on wood

The late New England-based African American artist Ellis Ruley, “Horses and Riders,” Oil on poster board

Note: SAAM is located at 8th and G streets NW in Washington DC and is open Wed–Sun 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. The Renwick Gallery is located at Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW and is open Wed–Sun 11:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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A leading art fair that introduces art lovers to emerging artists, The Other Art Fair takes place in key cities around the globe. Earlier this month, the Brooklyn EXPO Center was home to this year’s local edition of the fair. Of particular interest to ARTBreakOUT was the booth hosted by the ArTech Collective, a Bronx-based community arts center operated by the nonprofit AHRC New York City. Featured were the works of five distinctly talented artists depicting a range of landscapes. The image featured above was fashioned with markers on paper by self-taught artist William Caballero. Several more artworks that were on on view at The Other Art Fair follow:

Also by William Caballero, “Untitled,” Oil pastel on paper

Cory Tyler, “Garden of Eden,” (#3 in a series) 2021, Felt marker on paper

Djsaniuka Pierre, “The House,” 2013, Acrylic paint on canvas

Nathan Rubenstein, “An Office Building in Midtown Manhattan at Night,” 2018, Marker on paper

Artist Bing Feng with his elegant landscapes

Photos: 1-5 Lois Stavsky; 6 Courtesy ArTech Collective

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On view through December 29 at Fountain House Gallery is “Small Works 2021,” a group exhibition featuring dozens of alluring works in a wide range of styles and media. The image pictured above, Small Works Series #25, was fashioned by the wonderfully creative Zeus Hope. A small sampling of additional works — all priced at $100 and under — that I captured on my recent visit to Fountain House Gallery follow:

Artist and mental health activist Michelle Hammer, “Sharp,” 2020, Digital print on canvas with wood base

Multimedia artist Roger Jones, “14 Karat Gold,” 2021, Acrylic painting

Multidisciplinary artist Boo Lynn Walsh, “That Dude,” 2021, Photograph and watercolor on wood

The hugely inventive Dubblex, “Philosopher Kings,” Spray paint. marker on vinyl

Multidisciplinary artist Susan Spangenberg, “Bastet,” 2021, Mixed media

Noted fiber artist Alyson Vega, “Hang Out to Dry,” 2021, Mixed media on wood

Fountain House Gallery is located at 702 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street and is open Tuesday to Saturday: 12pm-6pm.

Note: Fountain House Gallery and Studio provides an environment where artists living with mental illness can express their creative visions, exhibit their work, and challenge the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

Photos of images: Lois Stavsky

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The facade of the Fashion Institute of Technology — between West 26th and West 28th streets — is once again hosting an eclectic range of beguiling murals fashioned by Illustration BFA students. Ranging from the playful to the poignant to the political, they reflect a range of emotions that have surfaced among us this past year. The image featured above was created by Ana Anderson. A small sampling of these new artworks — Chalk FIT 2021 — follow:

Noelle LiVolsi, Becky Berman & Stephanie Wan

Colleen Kornish & Sarah Haskell

Kevin Ezekiel

Lobna

Abena Mkawasi Nkrumah

Tatiana & Obi Emmanuel Agwam

Melanie Wong with Oscar Yohe

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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With camera in hand, Korean-American photographer and Fountain House Gallery artist Kelly Han has been traveling the world, capturing the unexpected in moving, provocative portraits. Opening this evening at Silks Building in Long Island City is “Portraits of Strength and Resilience,” Kelly’s first solo exhibition. Turning her lens on people who embody the spirit of fortitude in the face of hardships, she has created a stirring visual ode to those among us who embrace life’s challenges. Krishna, the striking image featured above, was captured by Kelly in 2019. Several more portraits on view in “Portraits of Strength and Resilience” follow:

Gold Samba Costume

Balinese Farmer

Young Buddhist Devotee

Tuktuk Driver

The exhibition, sponsored by City Artist Corps Grants and Queens Council on the Arts, opens this evening, October 19, 6-8 pm, at 37–24 24th Street in Long Island City and continues through November 2. Hours are: Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, 11-7; Thursday, 1-8. Viewing is by appointment only except during tonight’s opening reception.

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Fountain House Gallery recently reopened to the public with “Water,” a visual ode to this vital natural element. Showcasing over 30 distinctly intriguing works in a diverse range of styles and media, it is a cause for celebration. The image featured above, The Beach, was fashioned earlier this year with fabric and fiber layers by the wonderfully talented self-taught artist Alyson Vega. Several more images from the exhibition follow:

Gary Peabody, “MD493,” 2021, Acrylic on canvas

DubbleX, “Water In Many Tongues,” 2021, Acrylic, marker and spray paint

Anthony Newton, “The Hope Float”, 2021, Oil on canvas

Angela Rogers, “Layla the Lobster,” 2019, Wire fiber, beads, string and yarn (top left) and “Aradia,” 2019, Wire fiber and found objects

Susan Spangenberg, “Swami Octopus,” 2021, Acrylic, marker, buttons, and fabric on canvas

Issa Ibrahim, “Wet Dream,” 2012, Acrylic on canvas

Curated by Fountain House Gallery artist Eva Tortora, “Water” continues through August 25 at 702 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street in Manhattan. Gallery hours are Tues.-Sat. 12pm-6pm.

Fountain House Gallery and Studio provides an environment where artists living with mental illness can express their creative visions and exhibit their work.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Introducing Self-Taught Colombian Artist J. Malhecho

While exploring the streets of Downtown Manhattan awhile back, I came upon a young man at work fashioning a hugely expressive face on a piece of cardboard that he had salvaged from the curb. Intrigued by his distinctly raw aesthetic and choice of canvas, I was eager to find out more about the artist. He introduced himself as J Malhecho and explained that he had come to NYC from his home on the mountainside of Bogota to spend some time with family members who were living here. I had the opportunity to briefly interview him before he returned home.

When did you first start making art?  And what prompted you to?

I began painting just a few years ago. I was 21. My life had suddenly and unexpectedly changed. As I was crossing a street in Bogota, a car cruising by crashed into me. The accident broke my bones and ribs. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t go anywhere. I felt the need to create something…something I could touch.

Had that accident impacted your life in any other ways?

Yes. I stopped using drugs and I stopped drinking. I feel as though my entire mindset changed.

You are working here on found materials. In fact, you refer to your art as “trash art.”

Yes. I am deeply concerned about the environment. I would much rather recycle something that has been thrown out than spend money on a canvas and further pollute the environment.

I’ve noticed that you paint with your fingers.

Yes, I mostly use only my fingers. I love the texture that it produces. Sometimes I use pencils. But rarely!

Have you any favorite artists?

No one in particular comes to mind. I don’t pay much attention to what other artists are doing.

What about cultural influences?

I’m inspired by the natural world that surrounds me. I grew up and live now among the mountains outside of Bogota. The homeless people in Colombia who recycle boxes to earn some money also influence me.

Is there a central or overall theme that ties your work together?

Yes. I create mythical creatures who protect the ecosystem.

Are you generally satisfied with your work? Is it important to you that others like it?

Yes, I am generally satisfied with it. I make art because I love the process. It isn’t important to me that others like it. But I want them to walk away with a message.

How long do you usually spend on a piece?

It depends. Anywhere from 5 minutes to one month.

Have you exhibited your work?  If so, where?

I’ve taken my work to market places on the streets and on the mountains of Bogota.

What are some of your other interests?

Playing the guitar and working on assorted tasks on the mountains.

What do you see as the artist’s role in society?

Art is an international language. It is my way of sharing my reality with others.  It is my way to communicate and to make people think!

Note: Two of J Malhecho’s paintings will be on exhibit in “Alone / Together: A Visual Meditation on Our Times,” from July 15 – August 29 at the Local New York, 13-02 44th Avenue in Long Island City. Several more of his works can be viewed at the opening reception, Thursday, July 15, 6-9pm.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos 1-4 Lois Stavsky in NYC; 5 Courtesy of the artist in Colombia

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