Open Studio, Spring 2019
Long Island City
By D. RASHAAN KING, June 2019
Open art studios can be both a blessing for the art industry and a curse. Artists are able to explore the ideas and then share them with the public, gaining new insight into how their work can be perceived from an outsider's viewpoint. This past May, viewers had the opportunity to visit the studio of James Fisher-Smith and Forrest Eagle D’Olympia at Long Island Arts Open, an annual gathering for people to join the discourse of artists and art organizations in Long Island City. It is also a new exchange that pushes boundaries of both artists and visitors, alike. James Fisher-Smith is one of a few artists who can leave you puzzled about whether he is taking a step backwards or forwards. “Elements of dissolution and the breakdown of entropy” are fully present. He moved so sharply between figurative journals, abstract photographic images, and installations.
His work started with him “pulling lines out of (his early work). There is a rolling waves of nodes.” He emancipates the bizarre, documenting his perception of the history of American Art. With roots in divergence from the European cannon, American Contemporary Art was covered by Fisher-Smiths self-expression, “I was actually just lost and I had to have something to keep me steady, just the contact, my body, that radical departure freed me from criticality.”
He starts off with the format of a line, then a bigger, more formative body and shape appears. Just as hard as it is to believe that one person was responsible for producing work, as if you were reading a poem. “When I was working with dissolution, it was also about a level of detachment, whereby I knew that by letting go, letting something break down, it is actually freeing it. (With respect to image and determination as a framework), it opened it up to the movements, the fluids, chance.”
Each piece of work has a unique format that marks the ultimate hope for Fisher-Smith to even further reduce the lines between him and its content. He has made an underground name for himself by working on the subway. He has obviously gained a great experience that cannot be replicated outside of New York City. Smith’s method includes his fellow passengers as both subject and fellow in the framework that can be built. “I tried to impose a lot of imagery into this - my portrait, dogs, studies, and whenever I did that it would break down.” While capitalism exploits all factors of life, Fisher-Smith also seeks the objective relationship with his content.
When Forrest Eagle D’Olympia sees the mechanics of urban living, they do not follow a concise line of action and plan. Through painting and video, Eagle D’Olympia tackles and investigates the concept of a function and the development of the frameworks. His belief that a human being cannot be independent of these systems, regardless of any attempt, equals a void, where any consideration of scale and size bears a direct influence.
Man made references to different elements of culture take on loose forms. His bears the influence of German educational charts - he informs his compositions. “Really important to have it not just come off as a copy paste image collage. Messing with the idea of finish.” The decrepit state of education in many areas gives artists, like Eagle D’Olympia the power to dissect the hidden data beneath.
The artist takes apart the foundation of what he calls a “visual assemblage.” His refusal to stick with any specific type of idea dismantles exclusivity one painting at a time. Eagle D’Olypmia’s work also invests in the way people define known images and lessons. This is his own means of communication - he marks the end of an era.
The lines used to divide the urban from the rural areas have been made possible. “In a lot of paintings, not in this one, but in this one, I am leaving the pencil, a small silhouette in between the background and the object that constitutes the foreground. And I got that cause I was working as an art handler and we specifically had a lot of Frank Stella. Those early line paintings, where he leaves that little moment of raw canvas and pencil. And I really noticed that I really responded to that….If you think of the picture plane as something that you fall into, or it comes out, and you leave raw canvas that doesn’t make sense.”
Everything relates to the life experiences and his general effort to solve the mysteries of our growing dependance on artificial constructs. His solution is to bring the focus onto what he is surrounded by and idiosyncrasies. WM
D. Rashaan King has been a Brooklyn native his whole life. Prior to writing for White Hot Magazine, he volunteered with Warm Up MoMS PS1 and the Affordable Art Fair. King also taught art and design at Great Oaks Charter School as an Urban Education Fellow, through Americorps. His past work experience includes work with Park Exhibition Space, LoT Office for Architecture, Shin Gallery, The Center for Book Arts, Market Hotel, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, White Box, Cityarts Inc, and Uprise Art. His first institutional experience was the Sculpture Center, located in Long Island City. After pursuing Visual Arts at Columbia University, King has studied Architectural Design, Information Architecture, and how to Mentor Managers of Art Organizations that are in Transition. His last exhibition was at the Allied Productions & Le Petit Versailles’ Double Anniversary Benefit. Following his other passion for food, D. Rashaan King is a chef at Al Pastor.view all articles from this author