Bushwick Open Studios Focuses on Local Artists – QNS.com

Bushwick Open Studios Focuses on Local Artists

Lots Of Art Events To Enjoy

The annual Bushwick Open Studios festival brought visual and performance art lovers to the neighborhood for the eighth year this past weekend, with 623 participating artist studios, satellite events and group show spread across East Williamsburg, Bushwick and Ridgewood.

Gabriella Rassi of the band Silverteeth kicked off Bushwick Open Studios at the launch party Friday, May 30. Some projects encouraged engagement with the work, like Spread Art’s performance piece outside Pine Box Rock Shop on Grattan Street on Saturday, where people were invited to jump into the pool and “swim” around. This event also featured a black tent that people could crawl into and enjoy the cool air while surrounded by large blocks of ice.

Over its first eight years the festival has grown into a bigger event, according to Katz.

“It used to be quite a bit smaller,” but its mission remains the same; “to give local artists a platform to show their work to the public and to each other, Katz said.

“We’ve grown in size and scale, “and the event is “a celebration of the community.”

Artists can sign up at Bushwick Open Studios mixer events, or online. Arts in Bushwick also does a lot of outreach on the web to get artists signed up.

“We do a lot of social media,,” to promote events she said. To focus the event on Bushwick, and the surrounding areas, and to keep the festival about the community, a rule for who could participate was put into place.

The new rule, and just about the only one, is that an artist needs to have a year-round presence in Bushwick to participate, meaning they must either work, live, or have a studio in the neighborhood. For group shows, 50 percent of the artists must conform to this standard.

The new rule was to bring the focus back to local artists, Katz said, because “a lot of people were showing that didn’t have live or have a studio in Bushwick”.

Nine Hub locations were set up near subway stops stocked with festival maps and information and plenty of water. Bathrooms were also put at the hubs to ensure everyone remained comfortable while enjoying the sunny weekend. Though the open studios and events were spread around the nine hubs, thoroughfares like Wyckoff and Flushing avenues were buzzing with people, both young and older, descending on the cafes, bars and restaurants surrounding the festival.

One event, Radio Bushwick, broadcast live from outside on Wyckoff Avenue.

Since the first festival in 2007. “it’s changed a lot, Katz said. “There was a completely different leadership at the time We really kinda work year-round and a great deal to make this festival happen.”

The neighborhood “is really an artists mecca and a hub for creative minds.”

And Community involvement has been great, Katz said. “Yes, definitely. Hugely. In varying aspects.”

Many studios were both working spaces for artists and their living quarters. Some presented their own work, that of friends or colleagues, and invited guests into their private spaces to share a drink or some snacks while enjoying the curated walls. Other evens included a thrift disco, where a thrift shop rents space in a former warehouse , surrounded by local art.

Local galleries and businesses are participating of course, but also some that have no traditional connection to the arts, like Chicos laundromat, on Flushing Avenue, which hosted “English Kills” Henry G. Sanchez’s second video screening about Buhwick’s relationship to the former estuary at the southern end of Newtown Creek.

Other neighborhood events were a community day organized at Maria hernandez Park on Saturday with face painting, performances, yoga and jewelry making. The Arts in Bushwick community project team worked with local businesses to prepare the program of event, Katz said.

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