“I’VE ALIGNED MYSELF WITH STUCKISM FOR TWO YEARS,” says Judith Mills, on Open Studio day at Industry City late last month. “It has really helped me,” she says, with emphasis. With your art?, Brooklyn Artisan asks. “Yes. It enabled me to narrow down my focus to the realistic—what’s real, you know—and then to pull out to the expressive.” She gestures energetically toward the wide range of large canvases around her, wonderful, colorful, magnetic, different from one another — all that and more —and to Brooklyn Artisan, not remotely realistic.
“But the biggest surprise?” Judith continues. “It unstuck me in other areas of my life as well.” “You mean with money?” a studio visitor asks. Judith is nodding. “Or with friends?” More nodding. Judith adds, “I’ve been much more — well, here,” she says, pointing to a wire in-basket with printed pages. “You can read it.”
It is titled “THE STUCKISTS,” referring to a quote from Tracey Emin: “Your paintings are stuck, you are stuck! Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!” The subtitle of the manifesto is “Against conceptualism, hedonism and the cult of the ego-artist.” The manifesto dates from April 8, 1999, and is signed by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson. (“First published by The Hangman Bureau of Enquiry,” it says at the bottom, and gives an English address, in Kent.) It advocates authenticity in one’s work, one’s art, one’s life and one’s self.
Judith Mills is one of the artist-organizers of Open Studios at Industry City, the complex of lofts and warehouses at Bush Terminal, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. About 75 studios belonging to artists, photographers, stained-glass craftsmen, jewelers, musicians, and textile designers,were open to visitors.
And The Stuckists? Per Wikipedia: “Tracey Emin, CBE, RA (born 3 July 1963) is an English artist. She is part of the group known as Britartists or YBAs (Young British Artists),” and then it details a number of Bad Girl behaviors (such as being “drunk and swearing” on live TV), but not as many, apparently, as Tracey herself has revealed. For instance, in 1997 Emin showed Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, a tent appliquéd with quite a list of names, at the Royal Academy in London. More lately she was appointed of the Order of the British Empire, and is one of only two female professors—ever—at the Royal Academy since it was founded in 1768. Functioning in such a culture might make anyone behave like a Bad Girl.
Ah, but Brooklyn Artisan doth digress. Open Studio day at Industry City on April 26 was a “first annual” — that is, a pioneering experiment — meant to foster community both within and outside the circle of creative tenants at the vast Bush Terminal industrial and warehousing facility in Sunset Park. Some studio hosts offered light things to eat and drink and were happy to speak about their work. [Update from Judith Mills: “The show went better than expected. I was selected to do a live painting performance that will be May 30th on the rooftop atrium of the Park Restaurant in Chelsea for a fundraiser. I am very excited for this opportunity that developed out of the open studios.”]
Megan Grissett, who lives in Sunset Park, saw a notice of the Open Studios event posted in a neighborhood cafe and was eager to come over. A graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, Megan came to New York from Raleigh, North Carolina, about three years ago. “I live up the street,” she explains, and says she ‘d always wondered about Industry City.
“I work as a social media specialist at an ad agency in Manhattan,” she says, “and I don’t have much time for sketching, or a place for it.” But she had wondered if the atmosphere at Industry City would be too commercial. “Now I think it would be a great environment,” she says wistfully. “I would have to share space, though.”
As we sit and chat on one of wooden benches in a hallway on the fourth floor of Building B, Megan glances down at a fresh tattoo on the top of her right foot. Rendered in green and red, it is the image of a long-stemmed budding rose. “I just had it done,” she confides, “in memory of my grandmother, who died about a month ago. I’ll think of her every time I look at it.
“We were very close,” Megan says, in her soft accent. “I don’t want to ever forget her.”