art along the waterfront conference

Artists, developers, gallery owners and community leaders will gather at Brooklyn Borough Hall Friday morning for a conference on creating and preserving art along the Brooklyn waterfront. The event, “Spaces and Places,” will explore the history of art in the borough. Artists and gallery owners will discuss how art has been made, shown and sold along the Brooklyn waterfront and the issues facing those who make and display art there.

Speakers include Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs; Deborah Schwartz, president of the Brooklyn Historical Society; Borough President Eric Adams; Anita Durst, artistic director of chashama; Kathleen Gilrain, executive director of Smack Mellon; Lisa Kim of Two Trees; and Greg O’Connell Jr. of the O’Connell Organization.

See the full list of speakers here. The Brooklyn Historical Society and CUNY’s Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center are organizing the free event, which you can register for through Eventbrite.

1084 bergen street crown heights 2006

Crown Heights was once home to the city’s first black-owned gay club – the Starlite Lounge at 1084 Bergen Street, on the corner of Nostrand Avenue. Filmmaker Kate Kunath set out to chronicle the bar’s 50-year legacy in “We Came to Sweat,” which premiered last year and will screen tomorrow at the Queens World Film Festival in Jackson Heights. She told Vice the film began as an effort to save the bar, “the oldest black-owned, non-discriminating club,” which was sold in 2009 and finally shuttered for good in 2010. The whole interview is worth reading, but one quote in particular caught our eye:

“There was this unspoken common ground of the patrons, which was their willingness to say ‘f*ck the establishment!’ — whether that was over politics, religion, sexual shame, or social norms. And the energy of that was intoxicating. But what I took away from the plight is that nothing is permanent, progress is not a straight line and losing space is losing ground in the bigger picture.”

“We Came to Sweat” is screening tomorrow at 10 pm at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, Queens. Tickets are $12 or $9 for seniors and students, and available here. Pictured is the building in 2006, before the bar closed. It still stands, but a deli and dollar store have moved into the Starlite’s old space.

“We Came to Sweat” Tells the Story of New York City’s First Black-Owned Gay Club [Vice]
Starlite Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Gregg Snodgrass for PropertyShark

tim okumura pink elephant speaks

Artists and photographers who were part of the 2010 exhibition “The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks,” will gather at the Brooklyn Historical Society tomorrow to discuss what it means to be a working artist — and maybe a gentrifier — living in the borough today. Dexter Wimberley, who curated the show at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, will lead the discussion.

Panelists will explore “how they’ve survived (or thrived) in the years since the exhibition, and share how their art has been influenced by the rapid changes in the borough,” according to BHS. Artists Oasa Sun DuVerney, Nathan Kensinger and Sarah Nelson Wright will speak, as well as MoCADA director James Bartlett. The free panel will run from 6:30 to 8:30 pm tomorrow evening at BHS, and tickets are available here. Above, a painting by Tim Okumura from the exhibition.

Photo by Tim Okumura for Fort Greene Focus

Artist Jennifer Maravillas has spent the last three years walking all 9,000 blocks of Brooklyn and collecting trash to create a 10-foot-by-10-foot map of the borough, according to Animal New York. She recently finished the map, titled “71 Square Miles,” and it went on display yesterday at BRIC in Fort Greene. The Prospect Heights resident donned rubber gloves to pick up the refuse, tracking her movements in mainland Brooklyn first by labelling blocks and later with a running app. You can check out a digitized version of the map here or see it in person through September 6 as part of the “Mapping Brooklyn” group exhibition at BRIC.

Artist Finishes Trash Map of Brooklyn After Walking Every Single Block [Animal NY]
Video by Animal NY

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The Bushwick Community Darkroom is moving to a bigger space and expanding the types of processing it offers as well as classes and other events. Founder and Director Lucia Rollow, who is also one of the organizers of Bushwick Open Studios, plans to shut down the current darkroom in The Loom at 108 Thames during the month of March, then reopen at the new location at 110 Troutman Street at the beginning of April, she told us. The new space, which measures 2,400 square feet, will be renovated inside and out during the month of March.

This will be the third location for the darkroom, which Rollow started in the basement where she was living. The darkroom offers classes, darkroom rental and exhibitions.

To celebrate and raise funds for the move, there will be a party and art show on Tuesday, February 24, featuring photographs by Wilson Novitzki, Scott Nyerges, Caleb Savage, Rollow and Sarah Graham. Brooklyn bands, including Dan Zanes, will perform, and there will be rum punch from an El Dorado bartender. A RocketHub campaign to help with the move concludes at the end of the month.

The new darkroom will offer more space, more processing stations, and large-format and alternative-processing facilities. There will be a group darkroom with eight to 10 stations, a private dark room for black and white and other alternative processes, four private color darkrooms, and one 33-inch Colex RA4 processor, among other things. The darkroom will also expand its classes, including middle school after-school programs, and there will be lockers, movie nights, lectures and workshops.

Annual memberships cost $75 or $115 a month; a lifetime membership is $2,000. GMAP

Photo by Bushwick Community Darkroom

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If you didn’t catch the broadcast of WNET’s hour-long celebration of the 50-year-old New York City landmarks law Saturday night, you can watch it online. “The Landmarks Preservation Movement,” an episode in the public television station’s “Treasures of New York” documentary series, sweeps through landmarks history to the present day, comparing the landmarking of Brooklyn Heights, New York City’s first landmark district, in 1965 to the current-day effort to expand the Bed Stuy historic district.

If not for the efforts of Brooklyn Heights resident and distinguished preservationist Otis Pratt Pearsall, pictured above, who takes us on a tour of the Heights, 80 percent of the area would likely be gone today, according to the film. Bed Stuy resident and preservationist (and sometimes Brownstoner commenter) Claudette Brady speaks movingly of the need for protection for Bed Stuy’s 19th century houses, arguing that landmarking is crucial to preserving the community and its way of life. Catch her at 33:46 and again at 56:38.

Treasures of New York: The Landmarks Preservation Movement [WNET 13]
Still image from “The Landmarks Preservation Movement”

In honor of Black History Month, the Brooklyn Museum is hosting soul and jazz concerts, documentaries that challenge assumptions about racial identity, talks from black artists and poetry readings Saturday night. New Orleans-based band Water Seed will start the evening by performing “sophisticated jazz infused with funk,” and R&B singer Bilal will round out the end of the night with songs from his album “Love Surreal.” You could check out documentary screenings about soul food and the lives of queer women of color. Or listen to a poetry reading and discussion from Black Poets Speak Out, a collective inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. See the whole schedule here, with events running from 5 to 11 pm on February 7 at 200 Eastern Parkway.

third street development site next to gowanus batcave 52014

Arts Gowanus has issued an open call for artists to create public art on either side of the Carroll Street Bridge, in front of Whole Foods, and other public sites around the neighborhood, as Brokelyn was the first to note. Projects should highlight “the history, the Canal, the culture of creativity and the diversity of the community,” according to the organization.

A panel made up of reps from the Parks Department, Department of Transportation and local arts nonprofits will select three to five works to display throughout Gowanus. Projects can be in any medium and must follow the Parks Department guidelines for public art. A $35,000 grant connected to Brad Lander’s “Bridging Gowanus” program will fund the installations.

The deadline for proposals is March 2, 2015, and all artwork must be ready for installation by June 30, 2015. Work will be on display outdoors for up to 11 months. Anyone who’d like to participate is encouraged to attend a community meeting on Monday, February 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Old Stone House, located at 336 3rd Street. At the meeting, local leaders and community members will discuss what makes Gowanus unique and what they’re looking for from artists. 

dumbo arts fest jane kratochvil

The Dumbo Arts Festival won’t return this fall, after 18 years in the gallery-filled waterfront neighborhood, Two Trees announced this afternoon. It began in 1997 as the Art Under the Bridge Festival, a grassroots art initiative meant to attract art lovers and artists to Dumbo. One of the original organizers, Joy Glidden, ran the festival until 2009, when Two Trees took over organizing the event.

“But as the festival grew and grew – more than 220,000 visitors flooded the neighborhood for the festival weekend last year – it became clear that we could no longer mount the festival ourselves without commercializing it in a way that didn’t feel right. We were getting too far from the original mission of the festival,” Two Trees’ cultural affairs director Lisa Kim wrote in an email. 

Instead, Two Trees will spend the money for the Dumbo Arts Festival on other arts programming, including Dumbo galleries, the First Thursday Art Walk, a studio program that offers free work space to artists, subsidized rent for cultural organizations, public art commissions and art projects at the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg.

Photo by Jane Kratochvil for Two Trees

Black Artstory Web-Poster

Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership is coordinating an interesting list of events for Black History month that celebrate Fort Greene and Clinton Hill’s deep culture of African American arts and performance. Brooklyn-based contemporary dance company Hammerstep will blend Irish step dance and hip hop in a performance at Ingersoll Community Center on February 7, and a group of renowned local jazz musicians will perform live on February 15 at Splitty. There will also be a “digital media and live sound installation that re-imagines the concept of Afrofuturism in the wake of recent police violence in New York City” at the Emerson Bar on February 28. You can check out the full schedule, which includes poetry readings and art shows, over at Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership’s website.

kings theatre matt lambros

Flatbush’s Kings Theatre is set to re-open for the first time in 40 years with a free debut performance on January 27 by local dancers and musicians, including the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Brooklyn Ballet. The beautifully restored venue at 1027 Flatbush Avenue has also announced its lineup of 2015 concerts, which kicks off with Diana Ross and includes Crosby, Stills & Nash, Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, Sarah McLachlan and Gladys Knight. Diana Ross will headline the grand opening concert on February 3, and there will be a free open house tour of the theater on February 7, according to KensingtonBK.

Tickets for the free show on January 27 will be available on the Kings Theatre website starting January 20. Check out the full schedule here. We’re looking forward to seeing the interiors, which just underwent a $94,000,000 renovation led by developer ACE Theatrical Group and Martinez & Johnson Architecture.

Built in 1929, Kings was one of the five Loew’s “wonder theaters” constructed throughout New York and New Jersey. It shuttered in 1977 and remained abandoned until 2012, when the city selected ACE to revive it.

Photo by Matt Lambros

smith-9th street bridge gowanus

Creative agency Vanderbilt Republic, who lit up the Kentile Floors sign one last time using projections, will project a constantly changing “light sculpture” onto the Smith-9th Street Bridge in Gowanus. Beginning January 12, “this half-mile light sculpture will evolve nightly through two weeks of research, transforming the frame of the Smith-9th Street Bridge into a canvas for ecstatic creation,” according to the group’s website. The show will start after dark every night until January 23. There will also be an artist reception January 16 featuring an installation from light artist and scientist Colin Bowring, aka “the Wizard,” at Gowanus Loft, 61 9th Street, Loft C8.

Flyer via Vanderbilt Republic