Life Café on Flushing Avenue is not often thought of as a place to view art, but this Bushwick bar and restaurant is currently home to a vibrant series of small ink drawings on paper by local artist Lauren Asta.
A handwritten note on the wall explains that the entire series (except two “doodles”) was done over the course of one 15-hour day to raise money for a West Coast trip, and she has titled the exhibit accordingly — So I Can Go To California and Then Come Back and Eat Art Show.
These pieces have that electric quality that often only emerges when an artist is working quickly and doesn’t have time to overthink what they are doing.
The interweaving figures in the show are drawn simply and land somewhere between Indian tantric art and Keith Haring-style stick figure minimalism. But Asta doesn’t seem to be latching onto a specific style or movement.
In what is probably the strongest part of the show, a series of color drawings called Honkers, a character with the word “Honk” drawn into his mouth, is shown against six different colored backdrops. While Asta’s tongue is clearly placed firmly in cheek here, there is a sweetness the work has that makes it feel genuine.
There’s a lot to take away from this non-traditional exhibition (hopefully the patrons sitting in front of the work won’t mind you peeking over their heads). Asta accomplishes a lot with a few strokes of the pen — sometimes it’s the smallest things that can be the most emotionally arresting.