Painting to Survive: 1985-1995

The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition is proud to present
at the BWAC Gallery
March 18 – April 14, 2018
- Open Weekends 1-6pm, and By Appointment-

Please join us for the opening reception on Sunday, March 18, from 1-6pm. On stage will be music performances by Spaghetti Eastern Music, The Frank Museum Project, Malcolm Smart and Poetry readings by Philip F. Clark, Hilary Sideris, Anton Yakovlev and Don Yorty.

Painting to Survive: 1985-1995 is a remarkable exhibition of twelve painters who lived and created during the AIDS epidemic and the culture wars of the Reagan and Bush years. The early ’80s saw an explosion of possibilities in Lower Manhattan for young artists to make and show work. Taking advantage of the economic upheavals of the 1970′s, these children of the so-called “Greatest Generation,” artists Audrey Anastasi, Jane Bauman, John Bradford, Suzan Courtney, Jean Foos, Joel Handorff, Richard Hofmann, Stephen Lack, Marc Lida, Michael Ottersen, Jonathan Weinberg and Fran Winant viewed New York with a sense of great optimism.

But the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, and the collapse of the East Village art scene, cast a pall over many of their careers. In the case of painters Richard Hofmann and Marc Lida, AIDS ended their lives too early. The survivors, having lost friends, family and colleagues to the disease, created traumatized, emotive paintings that fell out of fashion. Their work could find no place in an art world that increasingly valued parody, appropriation and minimalism over expressionism. Yet these artists kept painting with marvelous results.

This exhibition provides a chance to reassess their large body of work, both in terms of its formal qualities, and as a form of sanctuary in hard times.

Now, as we face a similar period in American history – one of intense anxiety, heightened animosity and fear, and newly focused attention to the issues of the underrepresented – the ways in which these artists used painting as a form of resistance and a means of salvation has renewed resonance. For all the emphasis on individual expression, there is a sense in which this school speaks of community with its urgent drive to communicate not only suffering and anger, but also the possibility of redemption through the generosity of paint.

Painting to Survive: 1985-1995 is curated by the art historian and artist, Jonathan Weinberg. Weinberg teaches at the Yale School of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design and he is the Consulting Curator at the Maurice Sendak Foundation. His books include Ambition and Love in American Art, Male Desire: the Homoerotic in American Art and the forthcoming, Pier Groups: Art and Sex along the New York Waterfront.

See Press Release for more information.

Press pieces on the show:

Brooklyn Daily

The BWAC Gallery, a 501c3 nonprofit arts organization located at 481 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, 11231. Space for the BWAC gallery is generously donated by The O’Connell Organization and Kings Harbor View Associates.

For further information, contact