Jules de Balincourt, painter and the owner of Starr Space in Bushwick,good-naturedly quips, "I hope I don't look too grey next to all theyoung people," referring to the group portrait. He needn't worry. At 37,de Balincourt may be the oldest in this particular bunch but hisboundless energy and talent are ageless. It wouldn't be too much of astretch to call him the "Mayor of Bushwick," once a scrappyneighborhood, now in transition thanks to the burgeoning art scene,where he has lived and worked since 2000 (except for the two-year exilein Williamsburg). De Balincourt initially bought the Starr Spacebuilding to use as a studio in 2006, the summer before he was includedin the much-talked-about "USA Today" show at The Saatchi Gallery. "Itwas originally a dance hall and marionettes theater in the '40s, thenbecame a daycare center in the '70s and '80s. I realized the space wasso conducive as a public space," says de Balincourt as he traces thevenue's history. "Our very first event was a ping pong tournament. Sincethen, we've had over 40 local church parties, countless -- sometimespainful -- dance performances, animal rights punk shows and Obamabenefits." Oh, and let's not forget the yoga classes and the farmers'markets.

[top] "Malpais Bad Lands," 2008

Then there's the more private de Balincourt, the artist whopaints ribbons of colors and imagined spaces, sometimes galactic andother times microcosmic, cast with abrupt shifts in moods. They areplaces both far away and reachable, dystopian and exuberant. TheParis-born de Balincourt was exposed to different cultures early on, having lived in Ibiza, Zurich, L.A. and Paris by the time he was eight.After his parents' divorce when he was in fourth grade, he and his mommoved to Topanga Canyon, where he experienced an ample dose of cultureshock and was forced to adjust to Reagan-era accoutrements like Opshorts, half shirts, tube socks and Hulk lunch boxes. "I was heckled asbeing a communist because I wore weird French clothes and carried analuminum-silver lunch box." But he survived and went on to study art atCCA and Hunter College. This winter de Balincourt will have a soloexhibition at Zach Feuer Gallery, where he's shown since 2003 andanother solo show at the Mori Museum in Tokyo this spring. And that'snot all. "I sometimes think of starting a commune somewhere in CentralAmerica, Northern California or getting lost somewhere upstate."
Carol Lee

[top, l-r] "Your TEchnology Fails Us You Me," 2008; Performance at Starr Space, 2008