BROOKLYN BUZZ: Ridge artists get their creative juices flowing with BRACA

February 3, 2012 Heather Chin
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A graphic artist, a gardener, a choreographer, a filmmaker, adancer, two high school teachers, a few photographers, severalactors and numerous writers entered a bar one night to brainstormover drinks. They hailed from Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights,Bensonhurst, Sunset Park and even Staten Island. Soon, thehistorical preservationist of the group declared that they getstarted.

This isn’t the start of a water cooler joke. Rather, it was thescene at the Three Jolly Pigeons on Thursday evening, January 26,at the first neighborhood networking event for the Bay Ridge Arts +Cultural Alliance (BRACA). Organized last April by local creativepeople, with support from Councilmember Vincent Gentile, BRACA’smission is to connect artists and cultural organizations with oneanother while giving voice to the local art scene.

It’s a concrete attempt to marshal all art in the community in away that hasn’t been done before, said choreographer David Appel.There has been nothing social together [and] it’s just starting,but could be instrumental for artists, as well as the largercommunity as an instrument to get out the word.

On the agenda was recruiting a team to make a BRACA website areality and brainstorming ideas for themes and activities for apossible Summer Streets series that would close a stretch of ThirdAvenue off to traffic over four Friday evenings this July andAugust. Suggestions included Circus, Rock and Roll, Street Soundsand Old Brooklyn.

It’s sort of the anti-Third Avenue Festival, explained JustinBrannan, co-owner of The Art Room and communications director forGentile. [The goal is to] bring people from neighborhoods like RedHook and Cobble Hill, and show off what Bay Ridge has to offer.We’ll be the first to do this at night… There is no model. It’sgoing to take teamwork to make this happen.

Other ideas thrown out were to make the avenue green with planters,have simple dance classes, or put on short theater performances. Asfor the website, it will be designed by graphic artist EllenNygaard – who designed BRACAs square orange, green, blue, black andwhite logo – and illustrator/designer Michelle Farkouh, and whenlaunched this spring, will include a three-month calendar.

Of course, any event held at a bar can’t help but be social and thetwo dozen or so artists also took the opportunity to share theperformance and publishing dates of their latest projects. Forexample, tickets are still available to the Regina Opera Company’sSalute To Broadway concert on Sunday, February 5, at 3 p.m.inside Regina Hall at 1210 65th Street.

[BRACA] is a friendly, welcoming group [and] I have already madeconnections, said Staten Island photographer Louise Luger, whofound out about the networking event in the New York Daily News. Igot connected to the Narrows Botanical Garden after talking with[co-founder Jimmy Johnson] and now I’m going to do a photographyproject there of nature. It’s [been] a very nice experience.

To find out more about BRACA, call 718-748-5200, extension 203, orvisit their Facebook page at

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