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Art from the storm

for The Brooklyn Paper
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These artists are still in the eye of the storm.

The Brooklyn Arts Council is hosting an art show in Dumbo to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, and the 14 participating artists are Brooklynites who have been dealing with the effects of the superstorm — in life and in their work — ever since it came ashore.

“For most people, Hurricane Sandy was just an inconvenie­nce,” show co-curator Michelle Jaslow said. “[Some] people lost power for a few days and they moved on with their lives, but many artists are still living it.”

The exhibition, titled “For and About: Reactions to Superstorm Sandy,” was six months in the making, and organizers say the work that went into it was a life raft for borough artists who lost low-lying studios and, in some instances, years of work.

The show runs through Feb. 14 at the Brooklyn Arts Council Gallery and features paintings, collages, poetry and photography. Here are a few works to watch out for:

“Red Hook, 2011” by Miguel Garcia

Miguel Garcia’s large canvas combines acrylic and oil paints and salvaged material to form a mostly abstract landscape split down the middle by a horizontal brown smear that at once resembles a flood line and a horizon. Below it is a mass of scratches that the artist says represents the destruction Sandy wrought on Red Hook. Sitting above, untroubled by looming storm clouds, is the Statue of Liberty.

“Between Earth and Heaven” by Asya Dodina and Slava Polischuk

These two Bensonhurst artists were spared Sandy’s wrath, but a friend of theirs lost all of his paintings and drawings to the storm. The couple helped him clear out the dirt and leaves from his battered basement and the process inspired this black-and-white piece. The non-figurative work is tense, showing a delicate, graphite-on-rice-paper nest hovering above jagged chunks of destroyed computer and fax-machine parts.

“Reddy or Not” by Brock Mills

This photograph also focuses on the wreckage in Red Hook and it appears on the cover of a magazine commemorating the show. Mills, a Brownsville native, attended the opening during the Dumbo Arts Festival with his aunt and cousin, who lost their Far Rockaway, Queens apartment to the storm.

The photo contains a red tone that Mills says “represents the blood of the victims of Sandy.”

“At some point the storm surge of froth and rolling waves entered my friend’s house and those of his neighbors and turned them all into shipwrecks” by Nathaniel Kassel

The piece puts the storm in relief using what the artist calls “free-hand-embroidery drawings.” The work is a requiem for a friend’s Breezy Point house, which Sandy obliterated days after renovation work finished.

“It was so hard to understand how much destruction happened,” Kassel said. “Cars were being pushed around and we had never seen that before.”

“Volunteers” by Jason Maas

For Jason Maas, Hurricane Sandy awakened a latent volunteer streak. After his studio was ravaged by Sandy, he signed up to help storm victims through an organization called New York Cares. Six months later, he was hired as a permanent staff member.

“Volunteers” is an orange-and-white piece, made up of several of Maas’s drawings plus salvaged material, including a Clorox bottle and an oxygen mask.

Maas, whose art centers on socially conscious drawings, says that experiencing the wrath of Sandy has totally changed his thinking and made him want to make art work for people. He also recently started his own organization called the Artist Volunteer Center, which offers grants and fellowships for emerging artists.

“For and About: Reactions to Superstorm Sandy” at the Brooklyn Arts Council Gallery [111 Front St., St. 218, between Washington and Adams streets in Dumbo, (718) 625–0080, www.brooklynartscouncil.org]. Through Feb. 14. Mon–Fri, 11 am–5 pm. Free.

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