Sun shown: Summer-themed art show comes to Bushwick

Summertime: The exhibit “SPF 32,” opening on June 15 at the William Ulmer Brewery in Bushwick, features 90 summer-themed works of art.
Madeleine Mermall

Call it a summer beach arty!

A new exhibit of summer-themed art will raise the temperature of the oldest brewhouse in Brooklyn. “SPF 32” will open on June 15 at the now-defunct William Ulmer Brewery in Bushwick, a massive industrial complex that will play host to 90 paintings that evoke the lazy days of summer vacations and trips to the beach, said the show’s curator.

“I wanted to do a show about how I feel about summer,” said Madeleine Mermall. “There’s an intense freedom to the summer. There’s memories of childhood, and teenage memories. There’s an innocence to it.”

The show’s 32 artists are mostly women, which Mermall says was a welcome but unplanned feature of the exhibition.

“I didn’t even realize it until I had my final artists list. I just tend to enjoy what women are painting,” she said. “I think, unconsciously, women are being more confident in showing their own perspective these days, and in using their own experiences in their work.”

The paintings channel the year’s hotter months through exaggerated colors and lighthearted images, said Mermall, though many also capture a certain sadness of the season.

“Madeline Donahue has a painting of these girls on a swing, and you can’t see their faces,” she said. “There’s a storm brewing in the background. I love that dual feeling of innocence and anxiousness of the summer, where you’re trying to get in that last bit of fun, but there’s this storm coming.”

Pool party: This oil painting by Alex Hammond uses bright colors to evoke the feeling of summer days.
Alex Hammond

The William Ulmer Brewery, built in 1872, ceased beer production when Prohibition kicked in, and now it provides the perfect atmosphere to showcase the art, said Mermall.

“I had the idea for the summer show in the back of my head for about a year, and after seeing the brewery space, it just clicked,” she said. “Right when you walk in the building, there’s a room with a couple pieces, and then it opens up into this gigantic 2,700-square-foot room.”

Mermall said that the massive space provides the perfect frame for the art’s varying shapes and sizes.

“We have four or five really big pieces, that are about five-by-six feet, and we have some pieces that are super tiny, like five-by-five inches,” she said. “It’s a wide range of work.”

“SPF 32” at the William Ulmer Brewery [81 Beaver St. between Locust and Belvidere streets in Bushwick, (347) 468-0735, www.madeleinemermall.com/spf-32]. Opening reception June 15; 6–9 p.m. On display weekends, 2–6 p.m. through July 6.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.
Making a splash: Brooklyn painter Madeline Donahue contributed several pieces to the summer-themed gallery show.
Madeline Donahue

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