Around the time the Village Voice, as we had long known it was ceasing to exist,* I was assigned to shoot what would be my final feature for the paper. The piece, “Tuesdays With Judy,” written by one of the Voice’s legendary activist writers, Jen Gonnerman, profiled Judith Raskin-Rosenthal, a uniquely gifted, energetic, compassionate and perceptive art therapist at The Bridge and a group of remarkable artists.
(Full disclosure–since I first shot at The Bridge in December 2005, Judy and I have become close friends. And I’ve had wide-ranging conversations with the artists, we’re friends, and I’m one of the large group of BGA supporters, boosters and collectors.)
There are currently 11 members of Bridge Group Artists, all of whom have battled mental illness and/or substance abuse and several have also dealt with the extreme collateral damage of their diseases, homelessness. The standards for admission to the group are rigorous–talent, of course, makes the list but ideas for a cohesive body of work and a commitment to creating that work are also essential.
Judy and the artists hang several shows a year. Two transform the group’s studio at The Bridge into Gallery 300. Offsite there’s an annual fall exhibit–”Imagination” was on view in 2011–at the Museum of Modern Art’s education department gallery. ”Expressions,” the inaugural exhibit for BGA at The Gallery of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church opened recently. In addition to the current group members, Jennifer Gilliam (who died suddenly last year) is included, represented by a masterly** drawing, a self-portrait.
“Expressions” will be on view at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, Church House, 7 West 55th Street through April 8, Monday-Friday: 8 am-6 pm (Tuesdays until 9 pm); Saturday: 8 am-1 pm; Sunday: 8 am-2:30 pm.
(BGA portraits above, top row, left to right: Francisco Ortiz, Michael Blamo, Jennifer Gilliam; next row, left to right: Rosalia Silva, Glenn Grancio, Serguei Lanquetot; next row, left to right: Chris Zavalo, James Sneed, Ira Brewer; bottom row, left to right: Robert Kaplan, Patricia Doherty, Scott Zwiren.)
*Or maybe, more accurately, it was just a phase in the Voice’s protracted death spiral–on January 4, 2012, Jim Hoberman was, as he wrote, “retired,”–leaving the two Michaels, Musto and Feingold the sole survivors in editorial.
** Ciao, Stefano. Or is the grammatically correct word masterful?