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March First Thursday Pick: Funny Ha Ha at BAC

Funny HA HA at Brooklyn Arts Council

As usual, we lead-up to each First Thursday with a highlight of one not-to-be-missed exhibit.  For March, we are highlighting the Brooklyn Arts Council’s newest exhibition Funny Ha Ha.  The Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) is the arts council for our borough; they give grants, present free and affordable arts events, train artists and arts professionals, teach students, incubate new projects and promotes artists and cultural groups.  While they work throughout Brooklyn, their offices and gallery space are in DUMBO; we are lucky to have them!

Funny Ha Ha is a group exhibition that explores different approaches to using humor in art to make a serious statement.  The show is curated by BAC’s Visual Arts Director Courtney Wendroff and features works from Brooklyn artists Ernest Concepcion, Katy Higgins, Beth Krebs and Iviva Olenick.

Funny Ha Ha looks at how artists use humor to question relationships between art and everyday life – asking, “can art be both critical and humorous?”  Naturally, each artist approaches the question differently.

Concepcion uses fantastical elements to explore alternative universes and also employs concepts of war in the process of painting itself by drawing armies on the surface following topographical formations.  Higgins examines the choices that people make to shape, re-create, and/or represent the natural world to fit various needs while abandoning the natural in favor of artificial facsimile, and Krebs uses basic materials to make extraordinary interruptions in ordinary spaces.  Olenick transforms collected stories from current and former Brooklynites about their romantic encounters and relationships into hand embroidered artworks; if our endorsement of her witty lines aren’t enough,  The New York Times Magazine recently wrote about them too.

Courtney reminds us that “Undoubtedly, humor is subjective, and not all of these artists are even trying to be funny. Artworks that go for the obvious joke can be easily dismissed as insincere or worse mere entertainment, but humor can also be used as a tactic, a way to help the audience digest serious ideas.” 

Funny Ha Ha will be on view Monday through Friday from 11AM to 5PM until July 27, 2012.  First Thursday hours are 6PM-9PM at Brooklyn Arts Council at 111 Front Street, Suite 218.  A full First Thursday Itinerary, complete with bar and restaurant specials, is available through The DUMBO Decoder.

Images: Katy Higgins, Morning Glory, 2011; Tea Rose, 2011; Daylily, 2011; all archival pigment prints, 19 x 13 inches