We met the extraordinary and wonderful George Ferrandi at Sluice Art Fair in October 2013. She offered me a show at her Wayfarers gallery. Wayfarers is a studio complex she runs in South Bushwick, Brooklyn NY. It is really fantastic with great artists working there. So we decided to visit in April in preparation for the show in May which was to be shared with the sculptor Brent Owens.
For people so dedicated to the local it was a surprise to find ourselves across the Atlantic but we found we were strikingly in step with our Brooklyn artist brethren and sistren.
Here’s the press release for Brent and my show… which is actually true. Written by George
Congratulations on Everything
Paintings by Ben Coode-Adams and Sculpture by Brent Owens
May 23rd – June 22, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, May 23rd, 7 – 10 pm
Wayfarers is proud to present Congratulations on Everything, featuring paintings by Ben Coode-Adams, and sculpture by Brent Owens.
Ben Coode-Adams makes mystical watercolor paintings of spirit world / Sasquatch – like figures adorned with or comprised of tribal patterns that seep off of the characters and into the spaces around them. The figures are often defined by solid colors and patterns, but rarely by outline, leaving them ephemeral and weightless. It’s as if the landscape were passing through them while they were passing through it. They are edgeless – both with regards to the laws of physics and with regards to the limits of Ben’s inventive mark-making. These watery spirits co-exist with giant magical trees and small crying people – presenting boundless sorrow, but also unlimited joy. The resulting vibrant works on paper look beautiful. But they feel beautiful, too.
Brent Owens’ sculpture is ambitious and delicately clunky – appropriating the rough-hewn aesthetic of chain-sawed country bears or driftwood sculptures, but applying those sensibilities to less much predictable imagery – like ice cream cones, loaves of bread, submarine sandwiches or piles of hair. Those are examples of Brent working “from the outside in.” But sometimes it seems he works “from the inside out,” retaining the dominant profile of the log or branch he’s found, and adorning its interior spaces or addressing its quirky protuberances with found objects. With either approach, there is a boisterous debate between the subject he’s representing and the materials he’s using to represent it. And there is wonderful humor – in both the imagery, and in the battle that is taking place between the imagery and the materiality.
Both Ben and Brent combine in their respective works a breathable looseness with a meticulous attention to pattern and detail. They are both extremely skilful and ﬂuent in their respective mediums, and possess a confidence that allows them to “think on their feet” in the process of making their work. It’s clear they respond to whatever is happening to the material in front of them, and their responses are surprising and delightful – rigorous work from playful minds. Despite their very different final forms, both share a common ancestor in the humor and disciplined freedom of Philip Guston. Their solutions to the dilemmas that present themselves in their mediums are gorgeous and ridiculous, and feel to the viewer like these artists are working hard to undo any expectations, especially their own. They allow themselves to make the same mistake many, many times, but don’t appear to repeat the same right answer twice.
Wayfarers is thrilled to bring them together for Congratulations on Everything.
Ben Coode-Adams was born and lives in rural Essex on the family blackcurrant farm, about 60 miles North East of London in the UK. He studied Fine Art (Sculpture) at the University of Edinburgh followed by an M.A. at the University of East London in the Architecture School. He has a cherished and obsessive drawing practice; drawings which have been exhibited across Europe as well as the UK. He works mainly with watercolour.
‘I love watercolour, for its precision and strange chemical reactions. I can smash up a painting and then recover it’s delicacy. Watercolour suits my interest in playing with depth and weight. I love the way a drawing can be ‘made’ with the flick of the wrist and brush but I also love laborious repetitive parallel lines, intersecting concentric circles. Mostly my imagery is figurative deriving from a long standing interest in non-western art. But I’ll take my inspiration where I can get it.’
Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1980, Brent Owens currently resides and works in Brooklyn, New York. His long term involvement in the now burgeoning Bushwick, Brooklyn arts community has included two solo exhibitions and many group exhibitions at English Kills Art Gallery. In addition, he has shown extensively in group exhibitions throughout New York, and in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. His work has been described by Hrag Vartanian as “Appalachian Moderne,” and by James Kalm as “Backroads Conceptualism” and “Redneck Dada.”
Wayfarers is a studio program and exhibition space dedicated to creating a community of makers who will champion each other, but also hold each other’s feet to the fire. We host 10 – 12 exhibitions a year, in addition to critiques, drawing parties, group shows, live music, experimental performances, puppetry events, readings, workshops, video screenings and other inventive events. These events are usually open to the public, almost always cheap or free and designed with the same championing/feet scorching spirit in mind.
Wayfarers is located at 1109 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221, and is open Sundays 1–5 pm, or by appointment or by chance.
George Ferrandi ‘The Prosthetics of Joy’ 2014
In George’s studio with projection by Willa Coode-Robins
Wayfarers Studio wall