Last Tuesday, Katie and I had the honor of being invited to an artists’ reception at the Nu Hotel in downtown Brooklyn. I know, right? What were THEY thinking? We promptly attended, drank all the free wine, and then ate all available vegan hors d’oeuvres, meaning the pile of baby carrots. Then we realized we should probably check out some art. Turns out, our borough produces some right nice pretty-picture-makers.

All of the artists being featured were Brooklyn-based (holla) and their backgrounds, mediums, and aesthetics ranged widely. There was stunning urban portraiture by Tim Okamura, abstract street scenes form Denitza, and old-skool graffiti-style work by Adam Suerte. Defining the atmosphere for the evening was a really superb violin-cello duo that teetered between classical staples and enthusiastically-played punk and metal covers. Their rendition of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room”? Très Magnifique! Oh, and Marty “fugetaboutit” Markowitz was in attendance, though, to judge by his tone and odd, mid-speech topic shift, he was pretty bummed about Aretha Franklin’s recent fall in the tub and resulting Brooklyn concert cancellations. Seriously. He was flashing puppy dog eyes and pretty much fell just short of asking for a group hug from the audience.

But, looking past Marty’s musings and the works of the other fine artists present, one person’s work stood out especially for us—that of one Maria Baraybar (thus the big title at the top there). Her paintings, which we saw when we toured some of the rooms where her work was hung, looked entirely different and refreshingly new to us. According to Maria, who talked a little about her work in person, the paintings we saw were based on images pulled from video stills of things like reality shows and late-night infomercials. A number of the paintings show a strange little character, apparently named Artie, who seems to be peeking into scenes and interpreting the strange happenings around him/her. According to the artist’s bio:

“Peruvian native Maria Baraybar, came to the United States at the age of 8 with white sand in her shoes and a head full of questions. The youngest of an immigrant family moving around in the US shaped a young Baraybar’s sensitivities. Trying to answer those questions through poetry, she found her self-expression through the Visual Arts. A coping mechanism soon turned into a lifeline. Eschewing conventional art school studies, Baraybar opted for broader education, embracing non-traditional channels to creativity.”

You can see a few of Baraybar’s paintings below (the bottom two of which are on display in rooms at Nu) and see more painting work along with journal pages of Artie on Maria’s site. Check it out.

Linked photos by THE SHALTZES (look, that’s us WAY in the background). Below, Untitled—oil on canvas, 48″x48″, 2009; One String—acrylic on wood panel, 20″x30″, 2010; Untitled—oil on canvas, 24″x48″, 2009; all by Maria Baraybar.