Take it outside: Sculptor builds open-air studio in Bushwick
Eye On Real Estate
Ah, the great outdoors … is a great place for an art studio in pricey Brooklyn, as least as far as rents are concerned.
A sculptor named Breeze is shaping up 40-foot shipping containers to serve as a welding shop and office for his new open-air studio – which otherwise is a vacant lot he’s renting at 430 Johnson Ave. in Bushwick.
“It’s cheaper than renting a giant building,” Breeze told Eye on Real Estate during a recent visit to the lot, while he took a brief break from installing a metal peaked roof on a 20-foot container that will be his tool shed. The roof is part of a rainwater collection system he’s setting up because there’s no running water at the site.
The asking rent for the lot was $5,000 a month, Crain’s New York Business reported in November when the deal was announced.
The 32-year-old artist, who doesn’t use a surname and calls his business Brooklyn Breeze, signed a two-year lease for the property with the option to renew for an additional three years.
Brokers James Dario Jr. and Fred Rufrano from Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates served as his reps in the transaction. Other brokers from the same firm, Jacques Wadler and Vincent Lopez, repped the landlord. City Finance Department records identify the property owner as Henry Sudol, who bought the vacant land for $115,000 in 2012.
Breeze needs outdoor space to work on large sculptures he fabricates for other artists and on big designs of his own. But some things need a roof over them when it rains or snows, which is why the rebuilt shipping containers are a must.
He has fixed up their insides with foam insulation and white-painted dry wall. He sliced up the outsides to install skylights and big windows.
“Cutting steel is what I do for a living,” he said.
There’s a container that will serve as a gallery for friends to show smaller works, and a container for storage – which has a friend’s Hornet helicopter stowed inside it. Breeze is going to help the friend fix it up.
The artist, who has decided to call his outdoor studio the Shipyard, worked on the buildout of the shipping containers during the winter.
“I was still out here, but it slowed me down,” he said. “There were a couple times when my tools wouldn’t even turn on.”
The arrival of warm weather brought a surprise to the Shipyard. Workers showed up and started constructing what a city Buildings Department filing calls a two-story “contractor’s establishment with accessory offices.” It’s on one side of the lot, leaving him room to do his artistic thing on the other side.
The 32-year-old sculptor, who has a degree from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, has had time to do some fabrication jobs outdoors, such as a small-scale model of a sculpture by John Clement which we saw during our visit.
By the way, Clement, who does big public sculptures, is well-known in Williamsburg because he owns a bar called Clem’s on Grand Street.
Both Breeze and Clement previously had studios at 878 Metropolitan Ave. in East Williamsburg. They had to move out because the property’s new owner plans to build apartments on the property. (See related story.)
Breeze had indoor work space with 20-foot ceilings at the Metropolitan Avenue facility, and outdoor space as well. “It was ideal,” he said.
Breeze, whose mother grew up in Bushwick, lives in Williamsburg in a place he found a dozen years ago, before the neighborhood got so expensive.
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