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by Ellie Brenner

Backyard by Ellie Brenner

Join us for the opening night of Backyard – Friday, May 17 from 6-9 PM. An installation by Ellie Brenner, Backyard combines the artists’ childhood memories of Levittown, Long Island, a burgeoning 1950s suburb and Accord, a farming village in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.

Ms. Brenner’s family moved from Brooklyn, NY to Levittown when she was a toddler. Behind the house was a small backyard adjacent to a large potato farm. That farm would later become the site for homes built by controversial real estate developer William Levitt, who was later dubbed the “King of Suburbia.” Levitt saw an opportunity to build affordable housing for returning WW II veterans and modernized construction methods with an assembly line approach. However, Levitt would not sell to African American GI’s and through contractual covenants, restricted resale to people of color. In addition, Levitt hired non-union workers and picket lines were often seen during the construction of Levittown.

The exhibit presents a scene of a time past and provides viewers an opportunity to experience their own personal reflections and memories. “The themes I explore are time and memory, past and present. Within these boundaries, I express my feelings about the people in my life, with a focus on loss,” states the artist. A colorful, life-like mural depicting a farm at sunrise will cover the gallery walls. Guests enter the scene through a screen door to the “Backyard” which will be enhanced by early morning sounds, an artful arrangement of vintage found objects, home movies and videos of 1950’s TV shows. “I am a mixed-media artist, and my painterly sensibilities have influenced the outcomes of my work to date. I enjoy exploration and discovery. The process is important in the art that I create, and I employ the least control possible. Mystery and surprise are components in the work,” says Ms. Brenner.

An opening reception will be held on Friday, May 17th, from 6-9 PM. Festivities include pie, lemonade, and free activities in the Make and Take room. The event is free and the public is warmly welcomed. Scrap Thrift will remain open until 9:00 pm for shoppers. The show runs May 17th – June 14th.

Ellie thanks the following people who contributed to the exhibit:

  • Tori Milner for her tenacity and for bringing my concept of the mural to fruition.

  • Casey Cruver for the crocheted rug.

  • Marissa Pinardi for the flying birds.

  • Ann and Lena Rebeck and friends for creating the rooster.

  • Lynn Hasty for assisting with set up.

  • Lewis Scaife for editing the movies my father shot.

  • Jeremy Parker for installing the screen door.

  • The pie crew: Tatyana Kasperovich, Lynn Hasty, Sara McCreary and Casey Cruver

  • Cameron Morgan for his patience and materials search.

  • AND Daniel Bagnell for assisting with the video, sound effects, many ideas, and ongoing support.