Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Night in Williamsburg: Moviehouse's Cinema Parque presents Four Films on Bushwick Artists at Sternberg Park

Tonight we walked the fourteen blocks down Lorimer Street to Sternberg Park, where Moviehouse launched its 2010 Cinema Parque series at the handball courts with the premieres of four new films featuring the life and work of the artists of Bushwick as captured during Arts In Bushwick's massive and entertaining Bushwick Open Studios.

Negesti Cantave, Isaac Shrem and Yanil Santana from Reel Works Teen Filmmaking

paired with Moviehouse favorites - filmmakers Graham Meriwether, Manuela Viera-Gallo, Leat Klingman and Albert Beniada - to produce movies about performance artist Jill Sigman/Thinkdance, painter Noa Charuvi, and the Merzbush installation at venerable gallery Norte Maar, as well as a short documentary film about female American and immigrant artists in Bushwick.

It looked as if it would rain - we took an umbrella - and the forecast of an impending bad thunderstorm caused a delay in the start by Moviehouse's Chris Henderson, who did a great job on the evening, introducing the films at the beginning and bringing on most of the filmmakers and artists at the end for a question-and-answer question.

While we were waiting, we watched a fast-moving basketball game through the chain-link fence.

The first film we saw was The Merzbush: elegies to Kurt Schwitters by Albert Beniada

For Bushwick Open Studios 2010, Norte Maar presented The Merzbush featuring the creative genius of several artists who revisited the ideal of the great Kurt Schwitters - whose work we've loved since a Midwood High School contemporary art class (yes, Schwitters was considered "contemporary" in 1967!) -

to "make connections between everything in the world." The project transformed rooms of an apartment into living sculpture.

Next up, Dragon Critic: Noa Charuvi via Monsieur Cheri by Leat Klingmann & Yanil Santana, made us think and laugh.

Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Noa moved to New York City to pursue a Master’s degree in Fine Arts at the fabulous School of Visual Arts (did we mention we started teaching there in 1979?). After completing her studies, Noa stayed in Brooklyn where she currently lives and works. She was interviewed by the esteemed art dragon critic Monsieur Cheri.

We were really impressed with Noa's work and the thoughtfulness, particularly dealing with the political aspects of art, involved in creating it. Sometimes the hand puppet's thick French accent made the dragon's words hard to understand for us, but we loved the concept. (But then we once taught a class in consitutional history with the help of a sock puppet.)

After that portrait of an Israeli-American artist, we were fascinated by Immigration, Women & Art by Manuela Viera-Gallo and Isaac Shrem, which looked at the lives and work of a couple of innovative Bushwick artists. Unfortunately, we didn't write down their names that quickly, but some of them were present. But we weren't sure if the typo in the shot above was deliberate or just a problem of lack of proofreading. (This is what happens when you've taught first-year comp for 35 years.)

We've also taught classes in immigrant literature, so it was instructive for us to see how visual artists who come here out of different cultures, like that of Korea, use the differences in their lives in their work.

Finally, we liked jill sigman/ thinkdance by Graham Meriwether and Negesti Cantave,

about choreographer Jill Sigman, who in 1998 founded jill sigman/thinkdance, which presents conceptual dance that asks questions through the medium of the body. Following in the tradition of European dance theater, Sigman creates work rich in bold images and multi-media elements.

She transforms simple actions like walking on eggshells, sliding down the stairs, and eating hot pink roses into complex statements about self, society, and human experience.

Monday also began Moviehouse's new DIY film production experiment with The Filmshop Collective, whose members brainstormed ideas with the Moviehouse audience to pick a setting, characters, and genre of a short film which to be produced by the FilmShop and a selected audience member in time for the August 9 Moviehouse event. After audience suggestions, the film will be a romantic comedy about an undertaker and a census taker set in a candy store.

Moviehouse collecting footage of the park for inclusion in Little Dances Everywhere's interactive multi-media time capsule that will debut at Cinema Parque on August 23 here at wonderful Sternberg Park. Thanks to Moviehouse and all the filmmakers and artists involved in making this a great event. And, walking back up Lorimer Street with our umbrella, we were glad we never had to open it tonight.

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