Art on the line

By Tammy Scileppi

Artistic laundry line displays have turned an urban backyard in one Ridgewood neighborhood into an exhibit space, and neighbors never know what they will see when they look up or out their apartment windows.

Drying clothes on lines may be a thing of the past, but creative type Jessica Langley discovered a new way to use the almost-forgotten line extending from her third floor flat. After reaching out to various artists from near and far, who couldn’t wait to take part in her innovative project space called The Stephen and George Laundry Line, she figured out a way to transform her building’s shared backyard site into a backdrop for dynamic hanging works of art.

Beginning last year, Langley, 34, has curated a series of eye-catching, out-of-the-box creations that have graced her space and livened up the view for her neighbors.

“I want to create beautiful and creative moments for my neighbors that are nonverbal – so many different languages are being spoken around here. In my local art community, I’d like to create an opportunity for people to try out ideas and make new friends,” she said.

Langley has been involved with other artistic projects, like Event Horizon, an exhibition currently on view at Maspeth’s Knockdown Center through April 24.

Langley’s Laundry Line remains a challenging environment for her artist friends, but each has managed to resolve the issues associated with that unique outdoor spot in different ways.

“The work stays out rain or shine, must fit on the line, and can’t weigh more than a wet load of laundry,” she said.

The current musical triangles backyard installation, “The Third Line of Sight,” tinkles like a wind chime. It was designed by Los Angeles-based artist Alison O’Daniel, whose display will be up until April 16. Several more artists are scheduled, as well.

“My piece is an arc of triangles and a single hanging triangle, hung so that it will touch the arc and make a tone with the wind,” O’Daniel said.

Concurrent to her work on The Stephen and George Laundry Line, is her solo exhibition with Art in General, hosted at the Knockdown Center and opening Friday. “Room Tone” will be a layered and immersive installation.

“I utilize visual musical scores, closed-captions, sound tracks, and storytelling as fluid modes of perception or, as assistive listening devices that encourage the viewer to navigate between form, concept, object, sound, and narrative,” O’Daniel said.

A recent work was developed with deaf and hearing musicians, skateboarders, marching bands, composers, athletes, actors and artists, who she asked to navigate, de-construct and re-imagine sound.

Previously displayed on the line, was Danish artist Heidi Hove’s enigmatic “Nobody sees the trouble you see” exhibit.

Her message or personal outcry was spelled out in a large luminous sign made of light ropes. The phrase invited questioning and was open to interpretation.

This was Hove’s first New York exhibition.

“It was an interesting but challenging concept and an unusual constellation to deal with as an artist, but a great opportunity for me as a foreign artist to do a solo show here. I think that’s a dream that many artists have,” she said.

Hove said she likes working in places that are off the beaten path. Ridgewood, which is a mostly residential area, meets her criteria when it comes to New York City.

“It’s far away from the popular and touristic areas of Manhattan.,” she said. “Therefore, it’s interesting to interact with this specific neighborhood and to get a better understanding of New York as a whole.”

Hove chose light as her medium, but many of the laundry line projects have been textiles-based, like Ridgewood artist Andrea Bergart’s dyed painting on silk, called “Rainbow Sherbet” on display last year. In her other works, she uses cement truck barrels, UV sensitive dyes, acrylic paint, and color pencils. Bergart was recently featured in a group show at Ridgewood’s Lorimoto Gallery.

Out-of-towner Rachel Hayes is known for her billowing, brightly colored, geometric quilt-like textiles. Her “Flow Riotous” (sewn polyester, vinyl, nylon satin) was the inaugural exhibition for Laundry Line last summer.

She creates abstract compositions that embrace the language of painting, while interacting with space in a sculptural/architectural manner. Hayes’ installation-based creations have been featured at SculptureCenter in Long Island City and at other venues. She has been commissioned to create public projects in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Another line project was a text-based display (vinyl pendants) that celebrated cultural differences between Mexico and the United States. Mexico City artist Mónica Palma Narváez’ unusual, detailed work derived specific textile patterns and common phrases coupled with an abstract slant.

Brooklyn artist Andrew Zarou’s meticulously-cut shower curtains also rocked the Ridgewood site last year. He has exhibited in institutions and galleries nationally and locally, including MoMA PS 1 and the Brooklyn Public Library, to name a few.

Langley said her goal is to provide an informal site, which she described as “a stage for a hyper-local display of semi-public, semi-private art, where the act of looking is celebrated and encouraged.”

Appointments available. Contact: Jessica Langley at stephenandgeorge@gmail.com.