After watching Bushwick’s visual arts scene grow and usurp the energy of Williamsburg’s decades of dominance as the epicenter of the city’s artistic edge, curator Larry Walczak decided it was time to put together an exhibition that investigates the neighborhood’s recent art heritage.
The show, Williamsburg2000, opened on March 12 and includes 68 artists, including Meredith Allen, Lori Ellison, James Esber, Linda Ganjian, Komar & Melamid, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Fred Tomaselli, Loren Munk, William Powhida, Walter Robinson, Ward Shelly, Adam Simon, Jim Torok and Don Voisine. Taking place at the small artist-run indy space Art101 on Grand Street, the exhibition focuses mostly on Williamsburg’s “second wave” that began in 1998 and continued until 2002, which coincides with the same time period that Walczak ran the Eyewash gallery space with the late Annie Herron.
“As the northside & southside [of the neighborhood] are being transformed into a condo city shopping mall it’s important to create such an exhibition as Williamsburg2000 as a form of reflection and documentation,” Walczak says. “There is serious documentation of the Williamsburg arts scene being done by Ethan Petitt, Eva Schickler, Loren Munk, Greg Stone & others. Hopefully, an exhibition like this will reignite the dialogue here. People literally came from all over the world to check out the Williamsburg gallery scene at that time.”
A lot of the work in Williamsburg2000 is of the more recent variety because Walczak gave the artists the option to show newer work. “The last thing I wanted to do was some sort of museum style survey show. This format allows certain artists the opportunity to put fresh pieces in this group exhibition. This decision also allowed artists like Lisa Levy, William Powhida, Loren Munk, Marni Kotak, Ligorano & Reese and others to reference the neighborhood itself which was important to me,” he says.
What killed the Williamsburg scene? There are many theories, including the fact that the L train was always under chronic repair every weekend throughout the aughts, which deprived the neighborhood’s galleries of visitors. “Ed [Winkleman of Winkleman Gallery] feels this drove a number of spaces to Chelsea & even the Lower East Side,” he says.
The following is a taste of what you’ll find at the show that continues until April 17.
Williamsburg2000 is at Art 101 (101 Grand Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) continues until April 17, 2011.