Community is a popular theme among galleries in Bed-Stuy, including The Bishop Gallery on Bedford Ave. When owners Erwin John and Stevenson Dunn returned to their hometown to found the gallery 3 years ago, they were determined to carry with them the same values upon which their Washington, D.C., gallery – The Lamont Bishop Gallery – was founded: they wanted to bring accessibility to the art community, and provide a venue where artists of all levels of success and economic status could showcase their work.
The Bishop Gallery was founded upon the idea of preserving Bed-Stuy’s history and culture, and what makes Brooklyn, Brooklyn. Dunn revels in the “all-inclusive DNA” of Brooklyn, a place where diversity is not simply tolerated – as is it elsewhere – but in fact celebrated. The founders have a story to tell, and they were determined to tell it the way “Brooklyn would want it to be told”.
The Bishop’s founders took certain calculated risks in order to cultivate an environment that serves more to add to the art community, than take away from it. They value teaching artists how to succeed over anything else – versus merely imparting information that could benefit the gallery itself. As a result of their efforts, the gallery provides an intimate environment where artists can engage with their audience in a conversation that fosters “the ideas that bring about change”.
John and Dunn's mission is rooted in a commitment to the authenticity of the work they showcase. They find and support artists who exemplify purpose, and who have a real passion for what they do. According to Dunn, a lot of these artists don’t have a platform for getting their work out there, and are not often represented by the galleries. But they find a home, a voice, at The Bishop Gallery, where substance is valued and it’s not just about selling a name.
Currently on display at The Bishop is the show Document the Fresh, a photography exhibit featuring the work of four notable and up-and-coming artists, including Vickey Ford (“Sneakshot”). Among Ford’s pieces are surreptitiously shot photos of contemporary legends like Lenny Kravitz, brazen “front-row” peeks into performances that are frozen in time and captured for our eternal delight. Ford’s work is undoctored, instantaneous perfection, and lends credence to her pseudonym.
Ashley Sky Walker also has some riveting shots of performance artists lost in the moment, like the one here, where the backdrop is washed out with a bright color, forcing you to focus on the figure:
Also on display at The Bishop right now is the work of photographer Phil V, whose old-school Polaroids feature artists like Drake, Jay-Z, and Pharrell. The shots are portraits of his subjects, but no one appears to be posing for the camera; instead, Phil V has captured them off-duty, like they paused just long enough to have their picture taken.
Photographer Brody Rose has on display a series of DJ shots, where the camera plays tricks with the lights and there’s a visual continuity among them – in looking at the display, it’s as if it’s not a collection of different pieces, but a single work.
Closing reception for Document the Fresh is Sunday, August 30th. Also look for the gallery’s upcoming short-film viewing party on the 29th, BRIC Arts Media Presents B Scene @ The Bishop, which will showcase the work of some of Brooklyn Free Speech’s film and TV producers.
John and Dunn have a clearly articulated mission, and they wanted to make sure their audience was feeling it. But, 3 years back in Bed-Stuy, and it’s clear their work at the gallery has been well-received. So it’s time to get the word out.