The once dark and desolate area around the former 3rd Ward building is brightening up. Months after Livestream Public moved into 195 Morgan Avenue in May, Sugarlift is now up and running across the street, in a second building leased by Livestream.
At the online art gallery’s launch party last night, Livestream’s co-founder and CEO, Max Haot, told us he’s been talking to other tech and media startups who are interested in joining Sugarlift at 200 Morgan. When that happens, it’ll be a renaissance for a building, on the former Morgan Oil site, that hasn’t been used for decades.
“They’re trying to recreate the cultural hub that it was,” Wright Harvey, a co-founder of Sugarlift, said of Livestream’s designs for the former 3rd Ward space and its new neighbor across the way. “They were thinking of turning [200 Morgan] into a collaborative workspace or a space for tech start-ups but they thought it would be great to do something that broadens the culture of the neighborhood.”
Enter Sugarlift, which Haot praises as “a great cross between tech and art.” As we reported back in September, the unique start-up works with local artists to sell exclusive, limited-edition prints.
On display last night in its 600-square-foot showroom was a watercolored etching by Hiba Schahbaz, a Brooklyn artist who does nude self-portraits in the style of traditional Indian miniature paintings. Each of her prints can be easily ordered online – with your choice of frame – for $1,150. Or patrons can arrange a time to visit the showroom and browse in-gallery exclusives.
Harvey, who previously worked out of The Yard in Greenpoint, is happy about the larger digs and the new location. “Brooklyn is definitely the artistic capital of the world as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “And there’s something special about Bushwick.”
Technically, the two-story building is in East Williamsburg, but the point stands: five months ago Harvey and his business partner, former JP Morgan colleague Bart Piela, put on some running shoes and made a mad dash through Bushwick Open Studios, where they discovered artist Isaac Mann.
Taken with his paintings, they offered to pair him with Long Island City printmaker Derriere L’Etoile and convinced him to experiment with monotypes. Last night the resulting pieces, selling for $1,025, were temporarily displayed on the brick walls of a 1,000-square-foot room that will eventually be home to another tenant.
Displayed in an even larger vacant loft space was a neon work by Fanny Allié, the French-born artist whose “Serendipity” sculpture was recently installed in Tompkins Square Park.
Mann has enjoyed his burgeoning partnership with Sugarlift. “During these five months, we’ve been dealing with printmakers and days in the studio and even critiques about the work,” he said. “All of this is very much… I don’t know if organic is the right word, but it feels very unique to this situation.”
It’s just this sort of collaboration that the gallery seeks to foster, along with the occasional panel discussion and community-oriented events on the building’s rooftop.
It remains to be seen who’ll join Sugarlift at 200 Morgan, but the once sleepy area around the train tracks is already becoming a destination. Last month, Arrogant Swine open across the street, and soon it’ll be joined by Amancay’s Diner, a much buzzed–about 24-hour restaurant and music venue from the former owner of St. Mark’s Market. Haot says another bar is in the works, as well.
In the meantime, you can always pay a visit to Sugarlift. Their site advertises a fridge full of local beer.