Reflections on 14th Street and Beyond

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Sheila Schwid, installtion view of Reflections on 14th Street at El Taller Latino, From L to R: Where Are We? Where Are We Going?; Marching Ever Forward Calling Obstacles Their FriendsFive Guys and Seven Days

On an average day, New York City’s streets are filled with thousands of people moving at a rapid pace, so it’s exceptional that New York based artist Sheila Schwid’s paintings capture and commemorate these fluctuating moments in time to reflect on the contemplative and personal events that are often overlooked.

That is the crux of her recent series of paintings that are the result of snapshots taken by the artist while attentively riding along 14th Street by bus. Sheila explains “I take photos thru the window on the 14th Street bus.  For some reason, that street has many reflections.  At first I was interested in the buildings and the the windows, and how they reflected.  However, as I got into it I realized that I really care about the people.  They are so strong. They just keep going.”

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White Shoes

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Nona Faustine, Over my Dead Body, Tweed Courthouse (Built on top of the African Burial Ground). Courtesy of the artist

Although the South is often the focus of the history of slavery in America, New York City has a very racist ideological past. At one point in the 18th century it is believed that 20 percent of the population of New York City were slaves. This past has informed the present because New York City has the most segregated schools in the Nation, as well as a policy of law enforcement and economics that puts black communities at odds with the rest of the city. If facts and statistics won’t catch your attention, Brooklyn based artist Nona Faustine will.

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Suggested Reading: Location, Location, Location Edition

– While many artists eschew the suggestion that their presence in a neighborhood spurs gentrification, Lucian Smith isn’t helping that discourse. The young painter was recently was the host of a controversial party in the South Bronx, a neighborhood on the cusp of displacing long-time residents in favor of bougie high-rise condos akin to almost everywhere else in the city. The party’s theme of was a huge affront to the neighborhood . via Artinfo

– Speaking of gentrification and the arts, Art F City’s Paddy Johnson reports that artists are not happy with the “Real Estate Summit” that’s being planned at the Brooklyn Museum. She is among the many artists and cultural people that are petitioning the museum to reconsider their efforts to support continuing real estate developments throughout the neighborhood that are making Brooklyn unaffordable for the long time residents and communities that have given Brooklyn its true culture. Without these vibrant communities, Brooklyn will just be another generic city of the rich much like Manhattan has become. via Art F City

– Then again, maybe living in New York shouldn’t always seem like a major factor for artists. Lauren Palmer gives us some examples of why young budding artists should reconsider the Big Apple. She also suggests the most affordable schools in New York, for those of you who can’t fathom the thought of being elsewhere. via artnet

– Why limit yourself to one place anyways? Alec Soth’s Winnebego Workshop is putting art education on wheels. The often nomadic photographer will embark on a road trip in a repurposed RV, which will act as a classroom for students to learn from a variety of professional artists that Soth meets along the way. via Hyperallergic

– I really love Erasing the Border, a public art project by Ana Teresa Fernández and a group of volunteers. Fernández and volunteers from the U.S and Mexico got together along the Mexican side of the border fence in Nogales, to collectively paint it in a similar color as the sky. By doing so they’re imagining a “borderless society.” The artist and company plan to do more of these actions along the border in different locations. Fernández also has her sights on the US side and is hopeful that she can bring the project to Texas someday. via Hyperallergic

Suggested Reading: Artists vs. Developers Edition

The artist and the developer have a very complex relationship. Often the artist relies on commerce either to provide them patrons for their art, or to fund ambitious public art projects. The latter was the case in Kara Walker’s renowned installation at the now demolished Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The project met with some critique for choosing Domino, which is a site with a dubious history of generating and propelling large scale gentrification and displacement in the former working class, industrial neighborhood. One name that stands out amongst the patronage is that a member of Creative Time’s board, Jed Walentas, is the driving force behind this massive condofication project that will turn the former sugar plant into a massive luxury condo neighborhood a la Battery Park City. Art critic Carol Diehl wrote: “One could also make an issue of the extensive advertising Walker is providing for another sponsor, Two Trees Management, owned by Creative Time board member Jed Walentas, who worked for Trump before taking over his father’s real estate business, and will have 1700 luxury apartments to sell in his massive waterfront development on the site (as well as 700 affordable units, the number bumped up under pressure from Mayor de Blasio).” This weeks suggested reading takes a look at recent clashes between artists and developers.

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Suggested Reading: Thankful for Art

I’m thankful for art. It has been the best and most profound way for me to communicate my thoughts, understand issues and the context of the world, and help others. This series of suggested readings before Thanksgiving are a compilation of my love for art and it’s transformative powers; whether serving to directly confront political or social discourse, or express the collective conscious and seeks a better way to interpret and understand each other.  I’m also thankful for all of you for following this blog and contributing your thoughts!
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