There is no organizing principle in Bushwick Rodeo besides the fact that these artists are all working in New York City now, making artwork by hand that is a testimony to the resiliency, variety and potency of painting.
The power of the cut image is on full display in the works by Sadie Laska, who embeds images from 1970s “women’s magazines” in her paintings. Laska then stamps or taps her brush across the surfaces marking time and mapping the territory of her surfaces. Rachel Eulena Williams is clearly enjoying making and discovering in her studio practice. She hauls bags of rope, fabrics and paint up the creaky stairs of her Bushwick studio, where she can dapple, soak, dip and drip paint onto her raw canvases. Williams then cuts and sews the fabrics together to create her compositions. The final product refers equally to Elizabeth Murray’s shaped paintings and the grimy flags leftover from a long forgotten grand opening of a nail salon.
There is smoky nostalgia and a sense of history in the work of Lily Ludlow and Ben Berlow. These two artists create work with a sense of age in the foreground. The level of intention they embed in their surfaces indicates a nearly devotional approach to art making. Both Berlow and Ludlow find the perfect spot for the abstracted figures or geometric shapes, each shape existing in equilibrium with the next shape, hinting a cosmic yet hidden interconnectivity. The effect is soulful and precise in equal measure.
Annette Wehrhahn takes a shoot from the hip approach to gestural abstraction in her quasi-figurative paintings. Wehrhahn generates a ribald sensuality with oil paint and raw linen that produces a wry and generative image of sexuality and creative production. Wehrhahn shares the energy, action, and the pleasure of painting with Joanne Greenbaum, whose work is full of pensive humor, directness and fun. Open-ended and heuristic in approach, Greenbaum offers no boundaries in her pursuit of painterly self-expression. Fearlessly adding many unusual descions and moves, each painting becomes a pleasure for a viewer to pursue. Adrianne Rubinstein and Katherine Bernhardt, are both heirs to Greenbaum, who revel in the sense that painting is a treasure hunt for childhood memories, visual joy and perfected sense life.
Bushwick Rodeo is snapshot in time of the practices of nine painters who are working from distinctly personal point of view with alacrity and openness that is unusual. The works provoke pleasure; full of idiosyncrasy, color and criticality. To see and feel these artists pushing hard is a respite for our pessimistic times.
— Wallace Whitney