Highlights From the Sharpe-Walentas Open Studios

Studio of Julia Bland. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Studio of Julia Bland. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Last weekend the artists of the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program opened their doors for open studios.

The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation (renamed the Sharpe-Walentas in 2014) was founded in 1984, and each year awards 17 artists studio spaces in Brooklyn for a 12-month residency. The studio program is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Located in Dumbo, the studios are in a converted industrial space with tall windows opening out to cobblestone streets, old factory buildings, and the underbelly of the Brooklyn Bridge. There is a palpable history of art-making in the space, from the paint-covered windowpanes to the list of previous occupants posted outside every studio door. The program has hosted many notable names, including N. Dash, Josephine Halvorson, Dorothea Rockburne, Josiah McElheny, Sarah Sze, and Mira Schor, among others.

This year’s residents include Yezgeniya Baras, Maria Berrio, Julia Bland, Mike Cloud, Cesar Cornejo, Michael Dixon, Chris Domenick, Austin English, Steffani Jemison, Aliza Nisenbaum, Norm Paris, Kara Rooney, Victoria Roth, Jessica Segall, Tomas Vu, Nat Ward, and Zachary Wollard.

Here’s a look into some of the 2016 open studios highlights:

Nat Ward. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Nat Ward. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Nat Ward taps into the lineage of narrative travel photography with his new work, a series of poignant glimpses into the community of Delray Beach, Florida, called the “drug recovery capital” of the United States.

Kara Rooney. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Kara Rooney. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Kara Rooney’s work mixes sculpture, photography, performance, and video with a postminimalist sensibility to explore the interconnectedness of memory and language. Her sculptural works demand extended viewing, often including elements that one might miss with a cursory look. For instance, her oblong plaster and ceramic pieces feature small photographs inset into the plaster, offering little moments of reflection — literally and figuratively — in the otherwise rough surface.

Michael Dixon's studio. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Michael Dixon’s studio. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

The new paintings of Michael Dixon riff on the tropes of self-portraiture while investigating conventional depictions of racial identities.

Work by Cesar Cornejo. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Work by Cesar Cornejo. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Cesar Cornejo brings an architectural background to his sculptural work. One of his favored motifs is the elongated skull, an evolutionary anomaly traced back to the artist’s home country of Peru. Cornejo sculptures are often arranged in stacks, a symbol of systematic fragility in national and international economies and cultures. 

Victoria Roth. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Victoria Roth. Photo: Taylor Dafoe.

Victoria Roth’s large oil paintings land on the line between figuration and abstraction. If you look long enough you will begin to make any number of visual associations — art historical and otherwise — but just as quickly the surface shifts again into abstraction.

—Taylor Dafoe (@tdafoe)