Sunday, September 02, 2012

An AY-inflected exhibition from painter Peter Krashes: "Make it Work in Brooklyn!"

Peter Krashes, a leader of the Dean Street Block Association and major contributor to Atlantic Yards Watch, is an artist, and his AY-inflected exhibition, Make it Work in Brooklyn!, will be mounted at the Theodore:Art gallery in Bushwick from Sept. 8 through Oct. 14.

(Note the image reflects and refracts a May 2008 "Time Out" rally. The title of the exhibition has an echo of the slogan from the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, "Atlantic Yards must work for Brooklyn," a goal that some Atlantic Yards activists, notably those associated with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, did not believe or embrace. However, Krashes says. "I am trying to reach beyond the specifics of all the debates related to Atlantic Yards. The title is a demand that the public's interest be honestly assessed and empowered.")

The press release:
Theodore:Art is very pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Peter Krashes. Make it work in Brooklyn! is Krashes’ first solo exhibition with the gallery, and his first solo exhibition in New York since 2004.
Krashes is known for paintings of refracted imagery based in personal experience. In early works he represented himself dematerialized by reflections in multiple mirrors while on exercise equipment or in physical therapy. Those paintings were more often than not self-reflexive.
Since then, the focus of his work has moved outward, as he balances his ongoing role as a community organizer in Brooklyn near the Atlantic Yards development with his artistic practice. Everyday activities continue to shape the imagery he uses.
“Put simply, I play a role in shaping what I paint before I paint it. A letter in my work is a letter that needed to be sent, a meeting is a meeting I helped to organize, I had a stake in the outcome of the rally. As a result, the paintings are the last step in a process I have been engaged with from beginning to end.”
Themes of empowerment and critique emerge in Krashes’ painted political narrative. Opulent public architecture serves as a proxy for government processes that may be more show than substance. Cameras represent the media as a conduit for messages, but also as a potentially distorting instrument. More optimistically, a seed-bomb “factory” and portraits of kids whose faces were painted during a neighborhood block party function as emblems of self-empowerment.
For Krashes, in addition to aesthetic challenges, painting is a product of situations in the real world that must be acted upon. Crucial issues outside the studio are drawn into the work as a consideration of point of view, and in order to inspire the engagement of others.
The artist explains

Installation view of exhibit, mounted in Shenzen, China
From Krashes' own web site:
I am not certain what imperative I responded to first: the need to break out of the routine of studio work, or what I identified to be a crisis in the Brooklyn community in which I live. Whichever, the end result is that I have found myself for the last four years in a new, (unpaid), life as a community organizer with a work practice as an artist that embraces my efforts outside of the studio. This means my work now should be read using assumptions more associated with other genres of art practice than painting. Put simply, I play a role in shaping what I paint before I paint it. A letter in my work is a letter that needed to be sent, a meeting is a meeting I helped to organize, I had a stake in the outcome of the rally. As a result, the paintings are the last step in a process I have been engaged with from beginning to end.

Many artists get involved in actions for the sake of their work; the actions at the start of my work are reactions to external events disassociated from any artistic goals. In earlier paintings, my personal experience and process were spelled out literally in the work in order to leave stepping-stones back to the painting’s source. Those paintings had a more abstract and inward focus, so I often did variations on the same idea before moving on. Now each of my paintings comes from specific, unanticipated stimuli outside my work that I am compelled to draw into my work and refine. The paintings slow down a complex world and respond with a point of view. The imperatives I feel outside the studio are explicit so the outcome in the studio is particular and linked to the real world.

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