Art Is Not Dead in Williamsburg

Art is Alive in BK online GL

Despite news to the contrary proclaiming that “Art is Dead” in NYC the North Brooklyn art scene is pulsing with life. You can see it on the walls of buildings to inside a multitude of exhibitions, and even in pop-up galleries that were once, for example, a discount store.

Yes, a portion of the artist community has relocated, but NYC will always emit an irresistible siren call to the creative, and the creative are naturally a very inventive sort.  The art scene is capable of thriving via new arrivals, the old-school tenacious who’ve found a way to stay, and all those landing in between.

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Art is always a good for stoking a conversation or filling the silence when there’s nothing to say.

A Discount Store as a Pop-Up Gallery

To show Art’s pulse is strong in the North Brooklyn community a series of art events presented by Arts@Renaissance will use the empty Gem Discount store on Grand Street as a venue. When Arts@Renaissance was offered the prospect of using this unconventional space for exhibits a winter vortex of brainstorming led to the NYC

The first person to arrive at the Art Salon finds fascination in the snow globes

Arts Salon as a way to invite local artists to show their work locally.  Then NEW WORK NEW YORK would provide an outlet to show the work of 2nd year MFA students and recent graduates from a broader section of NYC.  Finally, the School of Visual Arts Graduate Art Exhibit will appear in late May or early June.

NYC Arts Salon: Weekend at the Old Gem Store

February 27th ushered in a weekend art exhibit that showcased local artists with a majority hailing from Brooklyn.  The florescent lighting from above and the worn red-white-and-blue linoleum tile, which had a slight and unintentional Jasper Johns’ vibe to it, sandwiched a range of art from over 100 artists.

It didn’t take long for people to come in from off the street. One couple stood and gazed at a grayscale abstract canvas. When asked what brought them here, the man, who identified himself as Damon M., said, “I was parking the car out front and I saw something interesting was going on inside here. We came in to get a closer look. I’m no art expert, but I like art. This is a great thing to have here. This should happen more often.”

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Ed Brittenham stands in front of his wife’s (artist Carrie Beckmann) painting (over his right shoulder). The painting is (in Carrie Beckmann’s words) a, “view from my garden: a construction site that used to be a school.”

Lisa Summa, a Board Member of Arts@Renaissance, arrived early and was able to absorb the art before the crowd arrived. She is an art teacher at P.S. 34 and said, “I’m very impressed with the representation of different mediums, the variety in styles. Monica did a great job of organizing it.”

The Monica she spoke of is Monica Carrier, for all intents and purposes she’d hold the title of curator, but she describes it as, “a non-curated show and a way to reintroduce Arts@Renaissance to the community.”  The art was gathered from an open call sent out a month prior.  Response was swift and copious.  Bushwick artists especially answered the call in force. Also, “[some] artists joined in when they saw the installation in process.  Quality artists ended up showing with us that way,” said Monica Carrier.

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“I was parking the car out front and I saw something interesting was going on inside here. We came in to get a closer look. I’m no art expert, but I like art. This is a great thing to have here. This should happen more often,” said Damon M.

John Clemente and Jede Brahma, owners of L P ‘n Harmony (a friendly neighborhood restaurant/bar a couple doors down) came to see the show.  “Great job! Group shows are very hard,” said Jede. She has some experience with putting on art shows as L P’n Harmony puts on a solo art show each month curated by Alejandro Aguilar, who also helped out with the installation of the NYC Arts Salon plus one of his photographs was part of this exhibit — a finalist in the “Pictures of the City”  contest  on Instagram and Facebook. The photo of Calvary Cemetery was part of a series Mr. Aguilar took 2 summers ago of churches he encountered while riding his bike throughout the city.

Although most of the art was displayed on the walls also presented were: snow globes, carved colorful wood blocks, etc. on pedestals; a picnic representation, a composition of designed tiles, and a scroll of painted paper (the continuation of a wall hanging) unfurled on the floor; and an symphony of orange wisps in mobile form, also what could be described as a what would happen if a Chinese dragon met a ceiling fan, both suspended from the ceiling. There was also an interactive offering. The artist 0h10 M1ke presented “The 0h10 M1ke Reading Room”, that consisted of a blue bookshelf loaded with books and a docent name T.J. who took you on a tour of the Reading Room. He explained, “Every volume has a different them,” and opened a World Almanac that had been annotated with drawings and memento materials such as tickets that connected the places with import to the artist, also a bridal magazine was similarly supplemented with “elements of ephemera” in the words of T.J.

After the Art Salon finished its weekend run, Monica Carrier said, “It really felt like a huge success at achieving the main goals — which were to connect artists to each other, to Arts@Renaissance, and to the community.  So many people from the neighborhood came in and asked questions and were happy to see the show.  There was a lot of talk about future collaborations between artists and with artists and the community and a lot of excitement about A@R. It created some nice momentum for the space, the organization, and the North Brooklyn art scene.  I feel great about it!”


The abandoned Gem Discount Store on Grand Street was filled to the brim with art and art lovers on the evening of March 13th.  This night ushered in Part I of the 1st Biennial survey of work by second year MFA students and recent graduates from across the boroughs. This is the first exhibit to bring together works by artists from all eleven New York City-based MFA programs: Brooklyn College, Columbia University, City College of New York, Hunter College, Lehman College, the New York Studio School, the New York Academy of Art, Queens College, the School of Visual Arts, Parsons, the New School for Design, and Pratt Institute.

School of Visual Arts Graduate Art Exhibit at 695 Grand St – Mention Mid to Late May


Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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