When I was 19 and 20 I spent two summers working with a Bushwick-based theater company. What was then their rehearsal space, and the residence for some company members, is now known to some of you as The Bushwick Starr. This was back when the L was unreliable, and I was mainly living at my parents' house in New Jersey between the semesters. I drove my dented Subaru Outback from Wyckoff, NJ to Bushwick almost every day without realizing that the small theater company I was working for was part of an artistic community in its embryonic phases that would only become more saturated as years went by.
Fast forward seven years: a curator, I find myself in Bushwick often for social and creative/professional engagements. One of my favorite organizations in the 'hood is Arts in Bushwick (AIB), which presents the annual Bushwick Open Studios (BOS) weekend (in addition to Bushwick Exhibition Triangle of Alternative Spaces and SITE Fest). Bushwick Open Studios features open artist studios, gallery exhibitions, performance events, parties and panel discussions every June. The events are free and open to the public. And if three arts festivals wasn't enough, AiB does additional service to the community through advocacy, organizing discussions on the arts and civic engagement, connecting with other local groups, and so much more.
I spent last Friday evening at the BOS Preview event at Lumenhouse. Lumenhouse is a flexible exhibition space that serves as both gallery and photo studio on Beaver and Flushing. A cash-and-carry art sale, the event showcased donated artworks from a fraction of the artists who will be participating in this year's BOS weekend from June 4 - 6. All of the works were the perfect size for your NYC apartment - most 11" x 10" or smaller - and all were priced at an affordable $200 or less. Proceeds went towards Arts in Bushwick and the support of BOS 2010. In the true spirit of BOS, the evening also included free samples of delicious locally made salsas by up-and-coming purveyor The Brooklyn Salsa Company. The evening offered points of engagement, and something to take home, for the diverse group of artists and audience in attendance.
The inclusivity of BOS is part of what has allowed it to grow so successfully since its inception four years ago. BOS has doubled the number of registered shows and locations since 2007. The weekend gives artists the opportunity to network with other artists, curators, collectors and other creative professionals and admirers on their own terms. It simultaneously helps build the reputation of Bushwick as a growing creative community while embracing neighborhood residents and other local groups as well as those looking in with a curious eye from other locations. With regard to the sense of welcome one feels at any BOS event, co-lead and operations coordinator for BOS, and co-founder of AIB Laura Braslow says:
I think of AIB - and particularly our festivals - as a way for folks in the creative community to get connected with a neighborhood organization that is a natural gateway for them...I think part of it also has to do with the culture of the local creative community, and particularly the extent to which so many folks are connecting with their neighbors and are focused on collaboration already. Disciplinary and institutional boundaries just aren't much part of the culture here...
In the future, BOS will continue to grow. They hope to offer more and different networking opportunities for participating artists and to continue to be a powerful force in the community at large. For more information about the upcoming BOS weekend (including how you can be involved), June 4 - 6, go to http://www.artsinbushwick.org/.
And stay on the look out here for more posts about BOS through the weekend!