When I first contemplated making art for legendary Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook, I knew that I didn‘t want to hang framed art- trapped behind glass and woefully remote from the Brueghelian scenes that unfold there weekly. Sunny’s is a place where musicians, revelers, participators and observers come together to share the common thread of music, drink and company. I imagined a backdrop to all this joie de vivre, one that was colorful and had different stories to tell for everyone. A visual treat that could change every time you really looked closely. Something to both echo and celebrate the foibles and follies of mankind. Art that could integrate with the convivial chaos and be another character in the room. Art that people would get to know over time. A tall order, but with some time to think and the freedom that a roll of canvas can offer, I set out last year to make such a thing.
I had some general ideas and inspiration from satirist Sebastian Brandt’s 1494 book “Ship of Fools,” but mainly relied on my own wandering imagination and started drawing to see what would come out. When the mural was finally finished- a year delayed by nature’s own foibles- catastrophic “Superstorm Sandy”- and hung up on the walls, it was the silence of my own thoughts that surprised me the most. It’s oftentimes startling to see what you have worked on deliriously (that is the only way I work). It’s impossible to really see it until you step away. The mural transformed the room into a kaleidoscope of color and craziness. I wondered if it was too strong, too startling. It has some dark imagery but to me it was fun, and in good spirit. I wanted to make viewers smile, laugh even, as they looked at things such as Santa driving a team of crying children who pull a sleigh of coal, a baby falling from a stork’s clutch, or two devils pushing and pulling time simultaneously. “It looks fantastic!” I heard Sunny himself say, stepping into the back room holding a banjo and a cigarette. He wore a giant smile and kept telling me over and over how wonderful the art was, which assuaged any doubts over whether the art would fit in there.
Last Saturday night I stopped into Sunny’s and was delighted to see that the back room was filled with musicians- I counted nearly 20- and packed so tightly with people you could barely squeeze in. The mural was glowing in the background and I felt like I’d achieved my vision. Several of the musicians and bar patrons told me how much they were drawn to the art and kept re-interpreting it every time they were there, which was exactly what I’d hoped for. They all smiled when they talked about the mural’s dark depictions and laughed as they pointed out their favorite parts. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I’m so grateful I was able to transform Sunny’s into the surreal vision I’d dreamed up. This week is the last week the mural “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland” will be on view. On Saturday, November 30, I will be there in the evening around 10 pm onwards to enjoy one last night with the art in situ, and I hope you’ll join me for one last look.
Sunny’s Bar; 253 Conover St. Red Hook Brooklyn
Saturday November 30th, 10 pm onward.
Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland: a mural project by Jen Ferguson
Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook, famed “bar at the end of the world”, will be the site of Jen Ferguson’s most recent project: “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland.” A 40 foot mural depicting the foibles of man will adorn the back room, where rakehells rub shoulders with the upright, professionals mix with amateur, and top-shelf mixes with bottom. Infamous proprietress Tone will serenade all comers with the sweets and bitters of her dulcet musical stylings in the front room, whilst you peruse the mural for your likeness (if you know me, you just might have inspired a character).
Sunny doesn’t call it “Back Room Art” for nothing. Come one, come all~ You won’t want to miss the opportunity to grill me in person for the meaning of all this. And if you ask with the right drink in your hand, I might just give you the key.
WHERE: 253 Conover St, Brooklyn, New York 11231
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 from 8-11ish
DIRECTIONS: Click HERE
if you are not familiar with Sunny’s, here are a few links: http://sunnysredhook.com/
Jen Ferguson Open Studio
Dumbo Art Fest 2013
Sat & Sun Sept 28-29; Noon – 6 pm.
The Studio: 55 Washington Street, 3rd floor #317
Come see what I’ve been working on! It’s been a while since I’ve shared my bigger oil paintings so I’m excited to open the doors and welcome you into my realm. There has been a lot of paint slinging and emptied paint cans lately; I’ve been working with my favorite subject matter: the architecture around us which is the literal framework of our lives. Come see what the anarchy has yielded as well as stop by for some conversation…
Follow my festival preparations at Instagram: http://instagram.com/artinchaos#
as well as my blog jenferguson.wordpress.com
The main festival website is here: http://dumboartsfestival.com/2013/exhibition/jen-ferguson-4
And here is a map to the studio:
Dan Greenfield of the NY Post wrote a nice piece about OUT OF LUCK and my racetrack art this week. There are several images from both OOL and my personal collection. It’s part of a very well done blog created by Greenfield especially for the NY Post and features many different aspects of contemporary art and culture. You can read it here. Enjoy!
And just a reminder, this week is the finale of OUT OF LUCK! You can read the final episode and see my last artwork for the series at this link:
I gave a talk and presentation last week at Bluestockings Books about my racetrack art, OUT OF LUCK, and drawing at the track, and writer Andrea Tsurumi was nice enough to write about it for therumpus.net.
She even shows some of the slides I used for reference- fantastic. It was nice to share some of my most personal sketches with everyone- something I don’t do very often. It was a really fun night and I hope to present more work in the future- perhaps this August in Saratoga!
Enjoy!Here’s the link: http://therumpus.net/2013/06/the-new-york-comics-symposium-jen-ferguson/
I’m presenting my racetrack sketches and art for OUT OF LUCK at Bluestockings Bookstore in Manhattan this coming Monday evening at 7 pm. Please join me as I discuss and show my work, including never seen before sketches! Here’s the description and info on the event:
“Winners, Losers and Voyeurs: Drawing at the Race Track”
172 Allen Street
Monday June 17th; 7 PM
At the 48th meeting of the New York Comics & Picture-story Symposium, Brooklyn-based artist Jen Ferguson takes us to the most exotic of local places, Aqueduct and Belmont race track, to observe, draw, and occasionally blend in with the railbirds and speculators who congregate there. In this talk she will discuss her working style, drawing at the track, and the inspiration that setting has provided. She will also present drawings from her book “Railbirds: My Life at the Track” and “Out of Luck,” based on HBO’s series LUCK which she currently illustrates.