I ventured into the lively streets of East Williamsburg two weeks ago, braving the winter cold and the early evening shadows. I was determined to attend a highly-praised event called “The Extraordinaries.” I took the L train to Grand Street, ready for an artistic experience that promised to redefine the typical Friday night revelry.
The Espejo Organization for the Arts (EOarts) went all out for the second edition of this show. When I entered the gallery around 7 pm, the carefully curated space surprised and delighted me with its variety of art and other forms of media. The exhibition aimed to highlight the quality and innovation that immigrant artists bring to the creative tapestry of the United States. Named after the visa and green card status granted to arts professionals with extraordinary ability, the show showcased diverse creative practices from artists immigrating from over fifteen countries.
Curated by Erica Reade and Gaspar Marquez, both distinguished artists from the New York art scene, this exhibition was anything but ordinary. Reade, known for her iconic beach lovers’ images, and Marquez, an award-winning fine art and boudoir photographer, curated an outstanding selection of pieces and projects that spanned visual arts, design, illustration, film, and more. According to Marquez, “The Extraordinaries” goes beyond the traditional art show concept. It’s a multidisciplinary event that weaves narratives beyond the boundaries of each medium, offering attendees a richer, more complex view of the global creative community.
In the visual arts realm, captivating works by artists like Spanish illustrator Patricia Bolaños, Japanese sand artist Naoshi, Lebanese Armenian mixed media artist Hildos, and Spanish painters Amaia Marzabal and Aida Miro adorned the exhibition. The eclectic mix continued with Ukrainian surface and texture artist Maksym Kazarin and Indian multidisciplinary artist Kuldeep Singh, who showcased his acclaimed video piece “Still Here.”
Photography enthusiasts were treated to works by distinguished figures, including fashion and documentary photographer Izabella Demavlys from Sweden, still photographer Beatrice Aguirre from Colombia, street and portrait photographer Anya Broido from the UK, and Colombian fine art photographer Julian Montenegro, who had curated the first edition.
The creative extravaganza extended to visual communications and design, spotlighting talents such as Chilean art director Nico Mardones, 3D artist Jenny Jiang from New Zealand, English graphic designer Crissy Bogusz, and the Czech 3D design duo Johana & Maxim Kroft.
Interior design and architecture fields were not overlooked, with Korean furniture designer Joseph Chun, Indian architect Keerti Nair, and Chinese architectural designer Kun Li presenting their unique pieces.
Fashionistas had their moment with works from Chinese creative director Churou Wang, Japanese costume designer Saori Mitome, Chinese fashion designer Grace Fu, and Chinese bespoke tailor and designer Yuecen Ricky Cai of the brand YUECEN.
The event featured three special performances and presentations. Spanish actor and producer Edu Diaz offered a snippet from his hit play, “A Drag is Born,” while Chinese actress Cynthia Yiru Hu delivered a mesmerizing monologue. Producer Lander Camarero and his partner Walter Rodriguez introduced their innovative cultural token startup, Defy Funding.
Among the standout pieces was the collaborative project “New York Women & The Zodiac” by Brazilian editor and astrologist Larissa Xavier and illustrator Niege Borges. This cosmic masterpiece transcended conventional art boundaries. Xavier’s celestial narratives, intricately woven with astrological insights, merged with Borges’s vibrant visual representation of the zodiac against the backdrop of New York City. This fusion was more than a creative project; it was an anthem for the bold and unapologetic women navigating the city’s chaos, a symbol of rebellion against the mundane. The piece asserted that astrology pulsates through the veins of New York’s spirited women, making a celestial mark in the vibrant tapestry of the exhibition.
“The Extraordinaries” went beyond the usual confines of an art exhibition; it emerged as a dynamic celebration of immigrant talent, a living testament to the cultural wealth foreign-born art professionals infuse into the American creative terrain. It served as a testament that American art, in all its extraordinary forms, bears the indelible imprint of immigrant heritage. With the anticipation building, the show is gearing up for its third edition scheduled for March 2024, and I, without a doubt, won’t be missing out.