It was a night to remember for the five Brooklyn artists who won the GO Brooklyn Community-Curated Open Studio Project.
The opening night for their joint exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum saw hundreds of people – well-wishers and curious strangers alike – stream in and out of the large gallery, staring at and photographing the artwork, reading the descriptions, and hanging on the artist’s every word during a private Art Talk.
Paintings, sculptures, drawings, and collages adorned the walls, selected by the Museum’s curators and project organizers, Sharon Matt Atkins, Shelley Bernstein, Eugenie Tsai, and John and Barbara Vogelstein after a months-long process that saw 1,708 local artists open their studio doors in September to the voting public, who then narrowed the pool down to 10 finalists, and finally the five chosen by the judges.
For winners Adrian Coleman, Oliver Jeffers, Naomi Safran-Hon, Gabrielle Watson, and Yeon Ji Yoo, this exhibit – open through February 24 – is the biggest exhibit that any of them had ever been a part of.
“It’s amazing; I don’t quite believe it,” said Coleman, who lives in Fort Greene and works as an architect by day. “This is a quantum leap because I don’t paint a lot and in little shows in the middle of nowhere, I often don’t get in. So to get in the Brooklyn Museum is a dream come true, [although that is] an understatement.”
“It’s been nerve-wracking, exciting, and a tremendous gift,” said Yoo, an art teacher at a public school and Queens College, whose rice-paper-and-recycled-plastic sculptures brought her recurring theme of the fleeting nature of memory and nature to three-dimensional life inside the gallery.
Watson, a lawyer from Crown Heights whose entire family, grandparents included, drove and flew in for the big night, said she was grateful for the experience and opportunity. “I’ve been painting since 2005 during my second year of law school and I plan to do it as full time as I can,” she said. “It centered me [back then and proves that law] is not the greatest gift that I have to give.”
For her part, Managing Curator of Exhibitions Sharon Matt Atkins said that seeing the months of work become reality “feels tremendous [especially since] when we set out to do this, we couldn’t anticipate the response we’d get from the community… There is such a cross-section in Brooklyn of art and artists and we wanted to reflect that.”