Exhibit shows diversity of Bronx artists

Patrons at the opening of a new photo exhibit at the Andrew Freedman Home on Sept. 13.

Patrons at the opening of a new photo exhibit at the Andrew Freedman Home on Sept. 13.

Photos display borough’s creativity at Freedman Home

The arts came uptown to the historic Andrew Freedman Home on the Grand Concourse last weekend, giving the public a taste of the Bronx’s creative side.

On Sept. 13, The Bronx Artist Documentary Project was unveiled after a year of preparation. The exhibit features the work of 80 visual artists and 30 photographers from across the borough. Its organizers say they hope it will create connections between other Bronx artists who rarely get a chance to meet. 

The exhibit, which is being curated by the Melrose-based Bronx Documentary Center in collaboration with the Bronx Artists Collective, showcases 100 photos of artists at work, snapped by local photographers.

“This project was an attempt to connect with whomever was around, to learn about them and to offer an opportunity for people to connect with each other,” said Riverdale-based painter Daniel Hauben, who is directing the exhibit. Hauben said he has long been curious about how other creative minds in the borough’s neighborhoods worked, but that he had had few occasions to meet his fellow artists to find out.

“For several decades, I felt I was living and working in the Bronx in relative isolation and wondered who was out there,” he added.

A common challenge many of the borough’s artists face is the lack of reliable public transportation between the Bronx’s eastern and western ends.

“Before this project, we knew some artists that live in their isolated world and didn’t know that many artists,” said Judith Lane, who helped coordinate the exhibit.

Along with bringing the artists together, another of the project’s objectives is to highlight their diversity, and the differing techniques they use. Cuban artist Alexis Mendoza, who has been working in the Bronx for the last 18 years, said it’s a great idea.

“We work separately and most of the time we don’t know what each of us is doing. This [project] brings all the artists together from different ages, techniques, styles and lines of work,” he said.

For more than eleven months, photographers visited the homes and studios of their colleagues to gain a better understanding of how they hone their craft, to “create a window into the world of the artist that the public doesn’t get to see,” Lane explained. The photos serve both to help viewers see how the artists worked to realize their vision, and to help them put faces to the names of the artists.

Working with a photographer provided painter and muralist Dennessa Usher the “chance to see them at work trying to capture the moment,” while opening her eyes to other perspectives.

Photographer Adi Talwar's depiction of painter Daniel Hauben at work.

Photographer Adi Talwar’s depiction of painter Daniel Hauben at work.

For the photographers as well, the process helped create a bridge.

“You never get to see the whole journey, and the journey is the interesting part,” said photographer Adi Talwar.

The participating artists and photographers were not the only ones struck by the wide range of styles and backgrounds on display. Co-op City resident Amilia Zaino, 24, found that the exhibit helped show that the borough’s artist community is more diverse than many outsiders realize.

“It shows we are from all over the place,” she said.

The Bronx Artist Documentary Project runs through October 8 at the Andrew Freedman Home at 1125 Grand Concourse. Admission is free.