The feeling of change is palpable as soon as you emerge from the Morgan Avenue L train station. It is different somehow—maybe older, maybe matured and greying or impossibly young and hip, depending on which generation you belong to; maybe resisting as it were, the perpetual push and pull of a community in high demand, under strain to constantly take new form, to fill a new gap, to stretch its boundaries ever outwards—different than how you may remember it if, like many of us, you were there some time before. The area between Morgan Avenue and Jefferson Street and encroaching even further out past the confines of what used to constitute the neighborhood is unrecognizable if you forget to go there for a couple of months and then find yourself standing, Tuesday, mid-afternoon, freshly ejected from the subway, on Bogart Street.
But so, Arts in Bushwick is celebrating its tenth year as a grassroots, artist-run and volunteered organization. Its best-known event, Bushwick Open Studios is thereby also now a decade old, and in the spirit of reflection and a focus on the life of the world to come, has cast the title and theme of this year’s annual open call exhibition, held at DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary, “Seeking Space: Making the Future,” curated by Michael David and Julie Torres. The kick off event for BOS took place on September 30th and for the first time in AiB history, also doubled as a book release for Arts in Bushwick organizer and volunteer Cibele Vieira’s brainchild, “Making History Bushwick,” an impressive, historiographic monolith gloriously comprised of images of artworks done by more than 400 artists, essays, photographs and reflections on the coming of age of the art scene in Bushwick.
DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary is a large, open gallery space in the 56 Bogart loft building and takes over the recently defunct “Life on Mars” Gallery space run by artist and curator Michael David. It plays well to the sensibilities, albeit with a heavy hand, of “Making the Future” that this particular themed collection exists in a gallery that usurped a former gallery.
It is hard to know what to look at first—the walls of D&S Contemporary are crammed end to end with artwork large and small from three-hundred or so, mainly Bushwick-based artists. Your correspondent chooses to start in the far left corner, by the window, and work counter clockwise. It is early evening and Michael David, Keith Schweitzer and I are the only three in the room. They are delightfully charming and offer up an extensive and interesting dialogue about each artists’ work I stop in front of for more than a moment.
The focal point of the entire installation is an oversized, brightly colored and intricate piece, “Bushwick Map” by Loren Munk; an effectual mapping of some of the most pivotal present day figures and spaces that have influenced and helped develop the art scene over the past decade or so in Bushwick. While this work may be the most vital to the overarching ideologies about what is in store for the impending future of not just the art scene but Bushwick itself, a discussion ongoing and occasionally uncomfortable, there are literally hundreds of other noteworthy pieces of artwork by some truly gifted local artists adorning DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary that would be well worth your time and attention and that I implore you to check out.
Bushwick has come a very long way in a very short amount of time, in terms of who lives there and what for and who no longer can and why not. The awareness is both there and not there, though. A persistent concern and desire to respectfully make space, to tread lightly in steel-toed boots, to give out as much as it takes in and to foster a dialogue on the effects of rampant gentrification does exist, and is thus inherently present, inextricably bound and embedded into the actual, tangible art. The nature of art is, in a sense, to hold up a mirror to the world and to itself, to serve as a semblance of introspection and overt observation. One gets the sense that the artistic community that has thrived in Bushwick for many years recognizes full-well its role within the greater Brooklyn landscape, that being to purvey a sense of welcome and also of thanks, of community and also of the radically different. In the early Aughts, artists began to trickle into Bushwick’s more industrial corners, intrigued by warehouses with very cheap live/work spaces. There was a lot to offer in Bushwick, insofar as it was a place where many people already lived, a place in close proximity to the already-cool post-90’s Williamsburg scene and, really when it came down to it, was ripe for the taking. It will be surely interesting to see where the art movement in Bushwick goes next, whether it maintains its foothold in its current locations or if it picks up and moves elsewhere altogether. It has, in any case, a new beacon of intrigue in DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary, with many other exciting exhibitions coming up soon. The future is bright.
Weekend events at DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary
Saturday (Oct 15, 3pm-5pm): BOOK SIGNING of “Making History Bushwick”
Sunday (Oct 16, 3pm-6pm): PANEL DISCUSSIONS
3 – 4 PM: The Making of “Making History Bushwick”
Moderated by Hrag Vartanian with panelists from Arts in Bushwick past and present.
4:30-5:30 PM: Making Art History Outside the Mainstream Art World
Moderator: Lisa Corinne Davis
Panelists: Deborah Brown, Loren Munk, James Panero, Krista Saunders Scenna, Cynthia Tobar.
BOS (Bushwick open studios) Seeking Space September 30- October 16, 2016
David and Schweitzer Contemporary
56 Bogart Street
Photographs by Li Sabas