Last weekend I decided to check out Bushwick Open Studios. It’s a festival in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn that features more than 600 showcases of local artist and musicians. The showcases take place everywhere from established art galleries to bars to loft apartments, rooftops and music venues. The festival is hosted by an organization called Arts in Bushwick that supports local artists and serves the community at large through arts education and creative accessibility.
Bushwick is just east of its more popular neighbor, Williamsburg. While Williamsburg has seen an explosion of gentrification, bringing with it tons of concert venues, bars, and upscale restaurants; many of the artists that populated the first wave of gentrification 15 years ago have been pushed further east and now populate Bushwick. In addition to these Williamsburg transplants, a younger generation of working class artists has moved into the neighborhood looking to benefit from the supportive environment: a growing creative community can foster. Bushwick Open Studios, now in its seventh year, is an effort to bring more notoriety to the arts scene in Bushwick.
The concept of Bushwick Open Studios is a great one. I was expecting more of a neighborhood festival where people could jump from intimate apartment lofts to galleries all day….kind of a big celebration of small gatherings. While I did enjoy the afternoon, I felt BOS definitely has more promise to fulfill. I dragged my girlfriend along with me (who was a great sport to walk from one part of the neighborhood to the other and back on the hottest day of the year) and armed myself with the official BOS app which listed nearby events.
My first visit of the day was at the Silent Barn. Silent Barn is a DIY all ages venue that hosts music concerts, art galleries, and a record studio. Silent Barn recently moved from their old home in Queens due to massive theft and legal trouble. Along with Market Hotel, Silent Barn has transformed itself from its former status as an unlicensed neighborhood speakeasy to a legitimate music venue. Back in the late 2000s, acts that have since achieved widespread notoriety played the Silent Barn including Dirty Projectors and Deerhunter.
A couple of the events I went to did not go as planned. We tried going to one event that was supposed to happen in the basement of someone’s apartment, which apparently never even began. At another event, we approached a gallery in someone’s loft apartment (I say approached because we never actually went in) before turning around upon hearing barking from what appeared to a pack of very excited and possibly hungry dogs.
BOS lived up to its potential on a few occasions. We found a couple of interesting galleries that featured some excellent original works, including those of Gustavo Rizerio (www.gustavorizerio.com). Both these events sported rooftop gatherings overlooking the skyline to the west into Manhattan. We found these parties at the perfect time, right when the weather was cooling and the sun was setting. The combination of art, music, views, food and drink was the perfect backdrop to the end of a beautiful day in Bushwick. I’ve documented my girlfriend and I’s travels through the neighborhood in this interactive map!