The Invisible Dog Art Center is a true South Brooklyn treasure, a friendly neighborhood art gallery and cultural event space situated right in the sweet spot among the communities of Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, and Downtown Brooklyn. Opened in the fall of 2009 (and thus reversing the usual NYC neighborhood chronology of artists first, families to follow), The Invisible Dog offers studio space to artists at all stages in their careers, and hosts a non-stop terrific series of exhibitions, workshops, parties, dance and music performances, readings and theater, all in a huge converted factory on Bergen Street. If you’re not in the Invisible Dog loop, get on their email list today.
Right now, and through May 18, there’s a grand-slam crowd-pleaser of an exhibition going on at Invisible Dog, The Exploded Mind of Mulholland Hwang, in which in-house artists Aaron Ruff and Oliver Jeffers channel the vibrant creative imaginings of a fictional grade-school-age boy. Combining big, cartoony drawings (Jeffers is a renowned children’s book illustrator) with fantastic miniature dioramas (Ruff designs object-oriented jewelry for Digby and Iona), the Invisible Dog is filled with wonderful absurdities, deadpan humor, and an overall, highly infectious sense of exuberance and joy. It made me laugh out loud, and put me in a great mood for the rest of the day.
The make-believe Mulholland Hwang, like many small boys, is obsessed with battles and animals and super powers, and many of the pieces here at Invisible Dog portray some sort of ridiculous face-off between the species. Like a lobster fending off a rabble of butterflies, a baby lamb and bunny “competing for affection”, and a Prey vs Prey showdown between seal and antelope. Even better are Jeffers’ “strategy-guide” pages–as if nature were a video game–listing the strengths and weakness of the likes of the meerkat, the llama, the puffin, the salmon, which, for example, may be a “good jumper” and “strong swimmer” but, on the downside, is “very tasty” and “dies immediately after laying eggs (so can’t utilize army)”.
Ruff’s sculptural pieces–a giraffe in the forest; a goat atop a mountain, surrounded by chickens; a (fake) baby chick eyeballing (real) goldfish–are also all instantly engaging. And kids, needless to say, will love this, too. If you’re in the area, or even if you have to travel a bit out of your way, you should definitely stop by Invisible Dog and check it out.
The Exploded Mind of Mulholland Hwang will be at Invisible Dog through May 18. The Invisible Dog gallery is located on Bergen Street between Smith and Court Streets, and is open Thursday through Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and on Sunday until 5:00. Lots more info on their website.