Arts GOes to Bushwick at open studio event

September 14, 2012 By Bryan Koenig For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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At project sponsored by Brooklyn Museum, Bushwick was most-represented neighborhood

Thousands of art connoisseurs and casual observers alike enjoyed the many artistic faces of Brooklyn on display last weekend in a borough-wide open studio event, known as the GO Project, sponsored by the Brooklyn Museum.

Of the more than 1,700 borough art studios that registered in the open studio series, more came from Bushwick than anywhere else in the borough. The burgeoning Bushwick art scene boasted 241 registered studios in the event.

The closest competitor was Greenpoint, which at 205 registered studios was the only other neighborhood to break the 200 mark.

“It’s always been the neighborhood that, in the last few years, that has been attracting a lot more artists and studios,” said Julia Sinelnikova, a Bushwick neighborhood coordinator for the event.

“You could kind of tell that there was a creative community because of like events and the kind of people that were moving out there. So I think that was what was a big magnet for young people, creative young people.”  

This museum-created event represents a much larger version of previous open studios that have been held in individual neighborhoods in Brooklyn and other boroughs. For two days, participating artists opened the doors to their studios and allowed  guests in free of charge for a glimpse at the artistic process.

The museum created a series of maps, signs and a smartphone app in order to lead visitors into studios in Bushwick and elsewhere. All helped visitors find studios often hidden from the world in row houses and warehouses indistinguishable from their neighbors save for a white and green GO sign fastened to the door.

 Participating artists were glad to shed some of their anonymity.  

“Unless I put balloons out, no one would have any idea that it’s here,” J.F. Lynch said of his small show space dominated by giant black-and-white charcoal letters.

Event visitors will help to nominate art that will go on display at the museum itself. Those who checked in online during or after the event with at least five studios could nominate their top three.

The museum plans to begin visits of the 10 most nominated studios soon. At least two of those studios will have their work go on display at the museum on Dec. 1.

On Tuesday the website showed that participating studios had nearly 49,000 unique check-ins across Brooklyn by nearly 10,000 people.

In part, GO was based on the specific success of Bushwick Open Studios, a neighborhood-wide event held each spring for the last six years.

In contrast to this weekend’s free event, Bushwick Open Studios  had a $35 sign-up fee for artists, and left it to participants to promote themselves. At least on the local scale, the Bushwick event may have been more successful, with more than 520 neighborhood artists participating this year.

Fewer artists may have participated last weekend because while Bushwick Open Studios accepted everyone from street artists to galleries, “GO studios were focused 100 percent on studios,” said neighborhood coordinator Sinelnikova, who also co-organized this year’s Bushwick Open Studios.  

This weekend’s event spread out potential visitors over a much wider area than local open studio events. Visitors had just two days to visit 1,700 sites spread across 46 neighborhoods, with the average number of studio visits at less than five per person.

Artists like Marko Velk said they would have preferred to see the weekend spread out into several weekends, with different days dedicated to different neighborhoods to allow visitors to see more studios. Velk’s large, multi-panel black-and-white pieces feature basic geometric backgrounds and imposing central images.

While GO is “a good thing and a good opportunity,” Velk said, “I think there’s too many people” participating and not enough time to visit them all.  

Brooklyn Museum officials considered running the event over several weekends but ultimately decided that “the symbolic value of a single weekend was more important,” said Steffani Jameson, a GO project coordinator.

Jayne Holsinger was more enthusiastic about the weekend’s turnout than some of her fellow artists. “This has been a nice steady flow,” she said of the weekend’s foot traffic into her studio space, which is dominated by large, vibrant gouache paintings of nude waterfall bathers that take up one full wall.

Holsinger sees the event as a chance to make local artists aware of just how many others there are around them. “It kind of connects us,” she said. “I think this has been very unifying.”

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