Paul Ramírez Jonas (Honduran-American, b. 1965).
The Commons, 2011. Cork, pushpins, notes contributed by the public, 153 x 128 x 64 in. (388.6 x 135.1 x 162.6 cm.). Courtesy of the artist and Koenig & Clinton Gallery. © Paul Ramírez Jonas. Photo Paul Ramírez Jonas
The exhibition has been organized by Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, and Rujeko Hockley, Assistant Curator. As suggested by the exhibition title, itself inspired by Brooklynite Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, the organizers have traversed the borough, making studio visits to locations from Bushwick to Bay Ridge. They have selected artists at all career levels, from emerging to established, representing the range and diversity of Brooklyn’s many artistic communities.
Focusing on artists with an expansive practice, one that is engaged with the world, Crossing Brooklyn is in part a response to a desire among some contemporary artists to expand their attention and practice, having an impact beyond both the studio and the museum, whether through public or private action, the use of found or collected objects, educational or interactive events, etc. While acknowledging Brooklyn’s lately heightened profile, Crossing Brooklyn also presents a long view and a multigenerational picture of the borough’s artistic communities, acknowledging, as well, Brooklyn’s long established role as a creative center. To make their selection, Tsai and Hockley drew upon their extensive knowledge of the borough, as well as a wide-ranging network of unofficial advisors composed of artists, colleagues, and other creative professionals.
Much of the work featured in Crossing Brooklyn is nontraditional, taking on hybrid forms that defy easy categorization. Examples include a working farm on the grounds of the Museum, which will be inaugurated by a greenmarket on-site in the months leading up to the opening of the exhibition; a panorama composed of 365 consecutive views of the sky, individually painted over the course of a year; a riderless, life-size equestrian monument made of cork, upon which viewers are asked to make their mark by leaving a note; and a photographic series recording the migratory paths-real and imagined, past and recent, forced and voluntary-of an African-American family.
Crossing Brooklyn will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue that will include a roundtable conversation among long-time Brooklyn artists Coco Fusco, Byron Kim, Wangechi Mutu, Thomas Roma, Fred Tomaselli, and Martha Wilson discussing the evolution of the visual arts in a borough that contains one of the highest concentrations of artists in the world.
The Brooklyn Museum has a long history of collecting and presenting the work of Brooklyn-based artists. In the 1930s it launched the Gallery for Living Artists, which was devoted specifically to Brooklyn artists, and in the 1980s it organized the Working in Brooklyn series, which culminated in Open House: Working in Brooklyn (2004), a group exhibition held in conjunction with the opening of the Museum’s spectacular new entrance on Eastern Parkway. More recently, the Raw/Cooked exhibition series (2011-13) presented solo exhibitions by Brooklyn artists selected via recommendations from a group of established Brooklyn artists; GO: a community-curated open studio project (2012) presented a crowd-sourced exhibition; and the Museum has presented solo exhibitions of work by Brooklyn-based artists such as The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Wangechi Mutu, Lorna Simpson, Fred Tomaselli, and Mickalene Thomas. Crossing Brooklyn extends these traditions and also reflects the Museum’s commitment to reach beyond its walls, actively engaging surrounding communities.
Paul Ramírez Jonas
Tatlo (Sara Jimenez, Michael Watson, Jade Yumang)