Nick Parker is not a hoarder. Nick Parker keeps everything. If these two statements seem inherently at odds, that’s all right. The Brooklyn-based artist has a way with contradictions, a knack for making ideas coalesce when, taken at face value, they shouldn’t.
Parker’s work exists in the space between interpretation and intention, straddling the line between its own finished object-hood and its narrative as a work in progress — or, in the artist’s own parlance, its moment of utility versus its actualization as an art object. A graduate of The Cooper Union School of Art, Parker has been working steadily since 2009 to refine a materials-driven, process-based approach to making. His vases are composed of cement that he pigments, layers, and sands until it starts to resemble some hyperactive version of linoleum. His grander ideas typically end up as “paintings,” made from paint and paint-like materials embedded with scraps and layered on top of a substrate, then sanded down. Forty of those were on display at his last solo show, Amerigo Ferrari: The Golden Body [of America]’s Last Meal’s Lobster Bisque,for which he had some 150 to choose from, all stored at home. “They really stack up,” he says. That home, for the time being, is an East Williamsburg apartment that reflects the constant churning of ideas that defines Parker’s practice, in which he seeks out value in that which is discarded, done, or spent. He utilizes scraps from his day job as a woodworker as well as offcuts and donations from neighboring artists and makers. It could seem a bit relentless if Parker weren’t so methodical in his execution, so fluidly dedicated to his craft that it hardly seems like work at all, just the constant iterating and reiterating of a nagging suspicion that maybe there’s more to the material world than meets the eye.
Since it opened in the summer of 2012, Frank Traynor’s Perfect Nothing Catalog — an ice shack–turned-shop that its owner transplanted from upstate New York to Brooklyn — has already relocated twice: from its original home in a Greenpoint garden to the backyard of a gallery in Bushwick, and, very briefly this summer, to a subway platform in Williamsburg. That particular pitstop, set up outside a more permanent subway retail outlet called The Newsstand, was a show called Behind Flamingo Plaza. “It was named after my high-school hangout, an all thrift-store strip mall in Miami — a very formative space for my aesthetic and a vibe I wanted to honor,” explains Traynor.
Plenty of designers who work primarily in two dimensions translate their patterns and images to textiles, but up-and-coming London designer Lucy Hardcastle's oeuvre is particularly diverse — a former textiles student, she creates three-dimensional objects, sets, and artworks made of everything from cement to Jell-O, then draws on those creations to make prints for clients like Nike and Alexander Wang.
Even with its door wide open, Isaac Nichols’s Greenpoint studio is easy to miss. Walk past, look around, turn back, and there it is, tucked inside a cavernous, garage-like space that’s served as a creative home base for Nichols (who works under the name Group Partner) and a wide circle of artist friends for the past two years. The studio, unassuming from the outside, hums within: music plays; the stretch and tear of packing tape is constant. All around, laid out on makeshift surfaces and shelves, are Nichols’s signature pieces in varying stages of completion: ceramic pots molded to mimic breasts, each adorned in a hand-painted outfit, and his famous face pots, each with one of three appointed names: Adam, Rory, or Pat.