On Sunday, November 8th, artists and makers along the Red Hook waterfront opened their studios to the public. This year, Red Hook Open Studios was organized by the artists themselves – a collective of some of the local art community’s most prominent members. One of the driving forces behind the event was painter Lizbeth Mitty, who welcomed me into her studio to talk about her work.
It might be hard to imagine today what this neighborhood area looked like 7 years ago, but many of Mitty’s larger-scale oil paintings bring the experience into the present. During the period between 2008 and 2012, the Red Hook waterfront – with its seemingly apocalyptic landscape and abandoned factories – served as her inspiration, and was the focus of her work at this time: “I seek to inform the viewer of the grandeur inherent in the experience of existing inside of a location that is large in scale and man-made, yet devoid of human presence.”
But these factories are not the subjects of her work, directly; her paintings tend more toward the abstract, and are evident more of her process than the object of her inspiration. Often she will start with an abstract creation, then layer over it elements from an urban setting, then layer over that a natural phenomenon like the sky – then “pull out” and “bring through” various facets of each, often creating a rich impasto that gives the paintings a three-dimensional effect.
Themes of dreams, memories, and places not yet visited also permeate Mitty’s work. In one piece, she found herself creating something that resembled a European-inspired structure – shortly before her trip abroad.
Committed to “examining and amplifying the intrinsic abstract beauty of deteriorating or overlooked corners of urban architecture”, Mitty also describes having taken a drive around Detroit several years ago to capture the remains of structures that had been decimated by fire. The paintings inspired by this trip, like much of her work, straddle the line between abstract and representational art.
While she is well-known for her larger-scale oil paintings, Mitty also experiments with gouache on paper, often revisiting themes explored on canvas.
Mitty's work will be displayed as part of a group show opening January 8, 2016, at Life on Mars Gallery in Bushwick. Visit lifeonmarsgallery.com for more information.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Lizbeth Mitty was born in Queens, NY, to a family of artists, and grew up painting and writing. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in both the United States and abroad and is held in public and private collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has received much attention from the press, including The New York Times and Art in America. To learn more, visit www.lizbethmitty.com.