Dear Greenpoint: Don’t take offense at what I’m about to write. It’s just that it’s been quite difficult to find your artists. I had an idea that they existed, or at least I suspected as much, but gathering proof has been quite a chore. Perhaps I haven’t been trying hard enough. Perhaps I’ve been focusing too much on writing about art openings and haven’t made the connection that art doesn’t just hang on gallery walls. Either way, this week made me realize that until now, I’ve failed miserably at capturing Greenpoint’s artistic voice.
Mott McCampbell isn’t new to the neighborhood. An abstract painter with years of work under his belt, Mott has been living in Greenpoint since the early nineties. No, he didn’t jump on the “Let’s-move-to-Brooklyn-Bandwagon” when Williamsburg and Greenpoint became hip. No, he doesn’t wear pants two sizes too small. He’s just a local artist who lives and paints in an affordable studio off of Franklin Street, alongside other struggling artists who’ve so far stayed under the radar despite the fact that their zip code has become synonymous with words like “hipster.” I’m not saying McCampbell isn’t hip. I’m actually saying the opposite: that he’s one of the few artists I have met for whom the term hip actually applies. Let’s just say he’s a cool guy and an inspiring artist.
So you’re wondering, where can I see his work? It just so happens that this weekend was the opening of an exhibition of his latest works at t.b.d., Greenpoint’s newest lounge, located at 224 Franklin Street.
“I think that t.b.d. lends itself to art,” said McCampbell when I met him in his studio a few days before the opening. “I like the idea of people sitting with a beer for long periods of time and living with the paintings.”
The show, which will be up until the end of May, features works he has done over the past year. When asked if there was a theme for the show, McCampbell said there wasn’t. “The works are all untitled. I have secret titles but I don’t want to direct someone’s vision when they look at the work. I want them to experience it for themselves.”
It’s this open and almost ego-less perspective on art which, in my opinion, really separates Mott McCampbell from so many of his contemporaries. “I have a lot of optimism,” he said of the art world in general. “I think there’s a lot of art to be made. I don’t like when critics write something off as being abstract.”
Did this mean that his works, most of which were emotional pieces with powerful brush strokes, fell into the category of “abstract”? As I looked around his studio
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