The L Magazine
The 10 Biggest Developments in Brooklyn Art of 2013
by Paul D'Agostino
December 18, 2013
For a link to the article with images, click here.
As many likely predicted a year ago, Brooklyn’s various art neighborhoods and their respective spaces and institutions were more active than ever in 2013. Even artists and areas of the city that started off the year still cleaning up from Superstorm Sandy wound down the calendar with a widely acclaimed exhibition at Industry City in Sunset Park that served as testimony to the same, Come Together: Surviving Sandy. What follows is a brief account of some shows and events of variable noteworthiness. It’s incomplete. It’s uneven. It’s in no particular order. But it’s a glimpse of the recent past that bodes well for the near future.
÷÷÷÷ 10 ÷÷÷÷
Bigger and broader than ever, and ever worthy of broader applause, Bushwick Open Studios was just one huge and hugely successful initiative of its kind this year. Although not all of them new, similar events were similarly extensive and well attended from Greenpoint to DUMBO to Sunset Park. Brooklyn artists might spend some time fretting about the tenability of their work spaces, and justifiably so, but they’re still spending a lot more time making things and building their communities, and inviting growing publics to come have a look. The scenes are hale and hearty—maybe even haler and heartier. For now, yes, for now.
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Outpost Artists Resources, deep into Ridgewood proper, houses studio spaces and hosts resident artists, but it also has a fantastic exhibition space. Color Line, a varicolorfully splendid exhibition curated by artist Rico Gatson, and featuring a dozen mostly Brooklyn-based artists, lured many a visitor out to Norman Street. We imagine that all of them found the jaunt well worth it.
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OUTLET Fine Art
Reinvigorated and reenvisioned, this yet newish Bushwick art space is now helmed by three curators with shared first initials and shared horizons—and with interestingly different intents and visions. Jason Andrew, John Silvis and Julian A. Jimarez Howard put on a couple strong shows to end the year. Keep an eye on them in 2014.
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Lots of great exhibitions at the borough’s biggest art institution in 2013, but a few of our favorites were Mike Ballou’s edition of Raw/Cooked, John Singer Sargent Watercolors and Fine Lines. Another good move by the Brooklyn Museum was not organizing another Brooklyn GO! If it goes down again in 2014, we hope it’s better conceived than it was in 2012. Its intentions were great, after all.
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Barclays Center didn’t only raise eyebrows with twerkers this year. It also raised them with a big crew of workers who showed up one day over the summer to install a massive, wonderful new sculpture by Bushwick-based sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard. It’s named Ona, but viewers see her as all kinds of things. “It looks like a big damn space alien’s leg!” said a passerby, with great glee, when we visited. Public art par excellence.
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Bay Ridge SAW
The annual Storefront Art Walk organized by a couple of locals and hosted by the neighborhood’s businesses saw its fourth iteration this summer—and it was a bit bigger, a bit more funded, and a lot more visited. Organizers have already announced their new nonprofit status and plans to keep art athrive in Bay Ridge in 2014.
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Directly related to artists being increasingly nudged out of their studio buildings in various areas of Brooklyn, artists William Powhida and Jules de Balincourt galvanized into action a big group of artists, art writers and art educators to address the issue. A town hall meeting was held over the summer. Many opinions were voiced. Many ideas shared. No major yields as yet, as far as we know, but promising catalysis took place. Something might still be abrew.
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Though this building’s management favors ever more galleries over artists, there’s little use in holding the exhibition spaces accountable, especially when the shows there get better and better. Theodore:Art moved upstairs and got bigger, Rafael Fuchs moved in and got busier, Robert Henry maintained great rigor, Honey Ramka joined the mix, and Studio 10 stayed deeply interdisciplinary and housed, as well, a truly momentous, soulfully invigorating show by Matt Freedman. Also of particular moment in these halls was Adam Simon’s Bury The Lede at Momenta Art, a group show that featured a number of artists working with print copies of the New York Times—which went on to get covered, several times, in the New York Times. The building’s DIY library of sorts, Mellow Pages, stuck around and stayed hella chill while hosting dozens of great readings.
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Storefront Ten Eyck
Artist and curator Deborah Brown transitioned from operating one of the smallest art spaces in Bushwick to opening up one of the biggest. Her reliably good shows and massive crowds didn’t change an awful lot, though they did stretch out.
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2013 brought many new art spaces to the borough-breaching cartographic stretch known most simply as Bushwick, and artist Mary Judge’s new gallery therein, devoted to works on paper and home also to Blonde Art Books, kicked off the year with a cocoa-flowing bang.
÷÷÷÷ Closing Downside ÷÷÷÷
The once robust art bastion 3rd Ward shut down in rather unsportsmanlike style, taking members and employees by surprise, and forcing artists and artisans to scramble about for workspace alternatives. Also, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s arguably unsportsmanlike—though not entirely unwelcome, we’ll admit—approach to getting the Brooklyn Nets closer to an NBA championship (spending many millions, shipping in Boston, hyping into oblivion) is not, to date, panning out. Not even close. And though this might not seem like art, one might say that their fallings apart have been at times quite performative. Coach Kidd’s spilled beverage was one hell of an act, to be sure—and it even garnered a fine-art-like price tag of $50,000. The team’s herringbone hardwood still looks great, however—a handsome backdrop when mostly humbler teams come in to do some mopping.
Prediction for Brooklyn Art in 2014: More of it, more spread out, more critical regard—and in all likelihood, more studio-related doubts. Brooklyn art has a wealth to offer, which means it also has a lot to lose. Let’s hope great losses don’t register anytime soon.