Near the Jefferson stop this past weekend, chalk arrows on the sidewalks pointed to “art and beer,” leading the way to small gatherings in Ridgewood community gardens and parked moving vans filled with art. This could only be one thing: Bushwick Open Studios had returned for its 11th annual installment.
arts in bushwick
Carnival has already been pretty wild this year, and it hasn’t even started in earnest. Down in New Orleans last week, the satirical Krewe du Vieux and Krewe Delusion processions brought plenty of raunchy anti-Trump floats and golden shower gags, as you can see from the photos and video sprinkled below. And not even those could top the Wild West-themed Trump float spotted at an Italian carnivale. But please, folks, let’s not let our jester-in-chief ruin what should be a glorious time of indulgence. Come Fat Tuesday, you should be fully focused on snagging free booze, southern grub, and freebies– that’s right, some local spots are prepared to throw more than just beads at you. Here’s who’s letting the good times roll this year.
This past weekend, attendees of Bushwick Open Studios had their pick of more than 400 participating art spaces around the Bushwick-Ridgewood area. The weather for the new October iteration of BOS– after years of holding the arts festival during the first weekend in June– was rather dreary, and we heard many attendees say that without the sunshine, the annual art celebration just wasn’t the same. Jan Van Damne, one of the many visitors wandering the private studios at 17-17 Troutman on Sunday, observed that things were “less chaotic” this year, but admitted to us that “springtime was an appropriate date” for the crawl. What was it, the weather? “No, no– it was just bigger before. New York City was waking up, so it was a great time for a creative festival.”
For Luis Martin, the curator of a small gallery project inside East Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Brush Studios called Paranthesis Art Space, this last weekend was the culmination of a yearlong effort, but also an exercise in keeping chill and carrying on. Just a few months before he was set to open Parallel Lives– a double-venue show featuring seven artists who traveled here from Chicago and five who traveled there from New York– it was announced that Bushwick Open Studios was canceling its regular June festivities, and moving its artist-focused event to a later date in October. “When Arts in Bushwick decided not to do the summer event, there was no centrality, no direction,” he said. Like many other artists in the area, Martin said he’d been “counting on the Bushwick Open Studios crowd.”
A riddle: how do you get all the artists in Bushwick in the same place at the same time? Tell them that everyone is going to be there.
In anticipation of the Bushwick Open Studios, the neighborhood arts festival happening this year in October, photographer Meryl Meisler is trying to get a group photo of every artist who calls the artistically vibrant Brooklyn neighborhood home. To do so, Meisler and writer James Panero, who is curating the project, have put out a call for any artist who is planning on being involved in BOS this October to meet tomorrow at 11 a.m. outside Stout Projects on Meadow Street.
Wednesday night, Bushwick Open Studios organizers convened at the local community and activist space Mayday, for a “town hall meeting,” and their first coordinated public appearance since Arts in Bushwick (AiB) announced they were moving the annual arts festival from the June date it held for eight years to a later one in October. News of the change-up was shocking for many community members and while some gallerists and artists expressed enormous disappointment, AiB was adamant that the move was intended to bring BOS back to its roots. As the fest’s organizers told us earlier this month, the festival had been “co-opted by many different commercial interests.”
When B+B asked at the meeting if there had been a breaking point, Laura Braslow, a longtime Bushwick resident who’s been involved in organizing BOS for the decade of its existence, told us: “It’s been several years of this trajectory, largely since the end of the recession. There’s stuff that’s happened structurally, but really a lot of those changes that you see in the city as a whole are playing out locally, and we’re trying to figure out how this organization can accomplish its mission in that context.” In short, BOS was suffering not only from a kind of corporate robbery, but also from their own inadequate attempts to reach out to the community as a whole. And in the highly charged atmosphere of a neighborhood in the midst of one of the harsher examples of gentrification in Brooklyn, neither of those things were going to fly for much longer.
If you thought the season for “top 10” lists was over, think again: a Bushwick art gallery, Fuchs Projects, has stirred up some controversy with its planned “Bushwick 200” list.
Last week, the gallery announced that it was set to identify “the 200 most influential people in Bushwick in 2016 in the Arts, Restaurants and Bars, Music, performing arts, Entertainment, Health, Real Estate, Gaming, Design and Hi-tech.” The “comprehensive list” of those who are “shaping the neighborhood of Bushwick” and “transforming the conventional” is being compiled “with the help of more than a dozen experts in different fields of art and commerce,” according to the gallery.
A press release from Arts in Bushwick paints the broad strokes for this year’s Bushwick Open Studios, coming June 5-7. There aren’t many details just yet, but there’s always a ton to do aside from gawking at artists’ workspaces. Our itinerary last year included a concert by Broke MC and Life Size Maps, a rooftop dance party at House of Screwball and a live painting contest at EXIT Room, all in the same night.
Here’s the scroop, straight from the horse’s mouth.
It wasn’t easy for Elle Burchill and Andrea Monti to find a space in Bushwick to house their expanding gallery, Microscope. The two started looking in October 2013, and finally signed a lease just under a month ago. “We saw at least 30 spaces,” Burchill says. “We lost several just as we were supposed to go sign a lease, and then the landlord had someone slip in and offer more for rent. That was fun.”
Bushwick Open Studios is happening this weekend and once again local artists will open their private studio doors to the public for a few days of art consumption, mingling, and performances. This year’s 600 related events stretch all the way from Decatur Street to just north of Grand. But don’t freak out just yet, because we’ve planned a pretty solid weekend for you below.