What initially led BushwickBK to Eric Trosko’s studio this past Saturday was the promise of trapeze artists and acrobats. While that part of the show was cancelled, our dashed hopes were assuaged by Trosko’s musical act at Factory Fresh and studio exhibition.
Trosko’s studio is located on a seemingly lonely strip of Troutman Street, dominated by industrial warehouses. But even here wine bars, coffee shops, and grocers are sprouting like weeds. Trosko has lived and worked in the neighborhood for the last 11 years and is nostalgic for Bushwick when it was more desolate.
“The energy is different now,” he says, “It’s populated and artsy. Before it was almost like a ghost town. It was the wilderness, but New York City.” Trosko’s current art work addresses that nostalgia and his curiosity about what Bushwick was like before the onset of renovated lofts and art studios.
Sitting down for coffee in his light filled studio, a soft spoken Trosko gently expounds on his notion of the Bushwick wetlands. On display behind him are a series of abstract duck themed paintings. One features the angular outline of a duck with the heading, “Bushwick Wetlands Preservation Society.”
While we’re chatting, Trosko puts on a recording he and Kiowa Hammons, his bandmate in Starlight For All Occasions, made a month ago. He says the album was created on the fly. “We just had to get something done,” says Trosko. Like his paintings his music tends towards the abstract. The repetitive tones of a synthesizer provide a rhythmic backbone to the melodic body of a ominous saxophone that plays over top.
Heard live at Factory Fresh, Starlight For All Occasions audience members got a sense of the artful chaos endemic to Trosko’s music. While bits and pieces were taken from practice sessions, the majority of the sounds are improvised. The synthesizer maintained as the structure to a cacophony of keyboard strokes, guitar rifts, and saxophone melodies. While Hammons scurried between operating the key board and sax, Trosko mostly remained intensely crouched over the synthesizer. At one point he bashfully turned his back on the audience to sing some monotonous tones into a microphone and at another juncture he abandoned the synthesizer for a guitar.
Trosko is a free spirited explorer. Playful in his studies and willing to go where the moment takes him. “I’m more interested in getting an idea out there than having a finished product.” Only one large canvas, layered in milky acrylics that achieve a perfectly matte finish, is present among a myriad of smaller works. Trosko says he’s stepping away from labor intensive paintings like these to focus on smaller studies. He motions to the duck-themed paintings behind him, all of which are done on paper. In each of his series of paintings ducks are prominently featured.
“I’ve been painting ducks for a long time” he says, “They’re somewhat domesticated, but savage. They’re so innocuous, but sinister.” In his paintings he dissects these feathered fowl, leaving them decapitated, feathered, and with deformed feet. In another painting the duck wears a utility belt looks like it has bionic tentacles where it once had wings. For Trosko so much of his art work involves playing around with color and applications. He stresses the idea that his artwork is about play. “Some artists are so serious, it’s such a downer,” he says.
A few people filter into the studio as we finish up our coffee. Trosko is showing a video he made while creating his cactus sculpture. Clean new matchsticks poke out from a waxy torso. As Trosko lights them they burn slowly, blacken and curl up towards the sky. His eyes focused intently on the screen he says, “I think the process is beautiful.”