About the exhibition

Please join us Friday, September 15th from 6 to 8pm at the James Gallery for the opening reception of “Block Party” an exhibition of paintings by artist and community organizer Peter Krashes. We invite the Graduate Center community to a special Speakers' Corner to add their voices and ideas about new visions for use of the ground floor of our building.

Peter Krashes' studio painting over the past decade stands as one complete body of artistic research growing directly out of his other practice as an unpaid community organizer in the Dean Street area of Prospect Heights in Brooklyn.

As Peter says, "My work as an activist and my work as an artist extend from the same set of values. All of my works are derived from meetings I attend or events and initiatives I help organize. There is no room in political or governmental processes for many of the activities we involve ourselves in, but perhaps none more so than painting a nuanced image in the studio. As a result, the paintings are the last step in a process I have been engaged with from beginning to end. The imperatives I feel outside the studio are explicit so the outcome in the studio is particular and linked directly to the real world."

Linking the practices of painting and of activism points out the problematic of actions that can be consumed, ignored, and considered irrelevant by those in official political power. Their human scale and material presence as paint on canvas positions these paintings outside the processes in which decisions are made instead of seeking recognition in political discourses of power.

Taking a different approach to generating cultural power, Krashes has generated this body of paintings through working out questions that arise in his range of collaborative activist practices. For example, frustration with the narrow, sometimes apparently biased focus of the media has led Krashes to make paintings depicting the glare of cameras pointed in elected officials' faces or expansive interiors of government chambers with recurring images of empty microphones. He also paints the flipside of this equation, namely that individual voices speaking collectively can exercise power. Neighbors painting protest signs, children's face painting, Easter egg hunts, seedbombs tossed into empty lots, and block parties claim space—marking the presence of the communities willfully neglected by those in power.


1) Huffington Post, October 25, 2017. Reviewed by G. Roger Denson.

Off Photography, On Politics & About Painting: Peter Krashes Reviews Figurative Populism as Activism. Click here to read the full review.

2) Hyperallergic, October 19, 2017. Reviewed by Patrick Neal.

"How an Artist’s Activism Nurtured His Painting"

This exhibition is a ten-year survey concentrating on Peter Krashes’s paintings that emerged in an almost symbiotic relationship with his political involvement as a community organizer. Click here to read the full review.

3) Delicious Line, September 21, 2017. Reviewed by Will Corwin.

"Peter Krashes: Block Party" James Gallery, Graduate Center, City University of New York. Click here to read the full review.

4) Atlantic Yards / Pacific Park Report, October 2, 2017. Review by Norman Oder.

"Block Party": Peter Krashes' paintings express community solidarity and neighborhood resistance/frustration. Click here to read the full review.

5) Atlantic Yards / Pacific Park Report. Review by Norman Oder.

Click here to read Norman Oder's review of Krashes' work.

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