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A Gallery Grows in Bushwick, Storefront Appears on the Scene

Storefront founders Deborah Brown and Jason Andrews in Norte Maar, which doubles as Andrews' home.

It’s obvious that Jason Andrew and Deborah Brown don’t like to sit around waiting for things to happen, which may explain why they have become cornerstones in Bushwick, Brooklyn’s art scene. Andrew is the driving force behind Norte Maar, an apartment cultural space on Wyckoff Avenue that has played host to some impressive visual arts, musical and performance shows over the past five years, while Brown helped organize the first Bushwick Open Studios and sits on local Community Board #4 as a constant cheerleader for all things culture and Bushwick. The two have joined forces to create Storefront gallery (16 Wilson Avenue) with the mission to promote emerging Bushwick artists and to revisit the work of established talents.

Situated near the area’s cluster of galleries (English Kills, Eastern District, Factory Fresh), restaurants, and watering holes on or near Flushing Avenue, the small storefront space, according to Andrew, “will feature a program of cross-disciplinary artistic endeavors that will include the visual, literary and the performing arts. Storefront aims to be a resource for the community and a reflection of its artistic intensity, diversity and vitality.”

Top, A Google Maps street view of the Storefront space before Andrews & Brown took it over; Bottom, Storefront gallery via Google Maps.

“Now is such a rich artistic time for Bushwick and luckily I’m surrounded by great artists producing great work. What precipitated the opening of the gallery was that I wanted to exhibit Deborah Brown’s work. For the past few years I’ve mounted exhibitions in my living room and this space was too small to show more then three or four of Deborah’s new series of paintings inspired by the urban Bushwick landscape. What began as a search for a temporary space turned quickly into the possibility of opening a gallery. That’s when Deborah and I decided to open Storefront,” he says.

Brown found a spot on Wilson Avenue with a receptive landlord. They signed a lease and opened their inaugural show in a little over a week — something you probably couldn’t pull off in most of the city’s art-borhoods. What makes Storefront different than Andrew’s previous space, is that it is a commercial gallery, and everyone is eager to see if they will be able to pull off what others have not been able to — make money at it.

Galleries in Bushwick are still a new breed and they fall into one of four categories: temporary (Pocket Utopia), consciously experimental (Laundromat, Famous Accountants, English Kills), reliant on other sources of income to pay the bills (Factory Fresh, Eastern District), or closed (Ad Hoc),  but that’s not to say that Storefront won’t crack the code and make ends meet.

“In my instance, I’ve been busy organizing shows through my nonprofit Norte Maar …  Deborah and I decided that Storefront could be our space to advocate for emerging Bushwick artists and revisit the work of established artists. I have been an advocate behind much of the Bushwick scene and now it’s time to join the other public spaces to help shape and advocate for our neighborhood,” Andrew says.

“While there may be some overlap in the missions [of Storefront and Norte Maar] to promote a program of cross-disciplinary artistic endeavors that will include the visual, literary and the performing arts, Storefront’s main thrust is to promote works by a single artist. Norte Maar maintains a collaborative spirit encouraging, promoting and supporting collaborations in the arts. Exhibitions and programs might be produced by Norte Maar at the Storefront, but the two organizations are completely separate. Storefront will certainly retain the spontaneity of Norte Maar,” Andrew says.

Storefront opened with a group show on Saturday, January 2, 2010.  The inaugural show resembles a celebration of local talent rather than a thematically coherent exhibition. The art will be familiar to observers of the Bushwick scene, including works by Roland Allmeyer, Bill Adams, Michele Araujo, Deborah Brown, Jeri Coppola, Judy Dolnick, Hermine Ford, Rico Gatson, Theresa Hackett, Arnold Helbling, Andrew Hurst, Norman Jabaut, Mary Judge, Justen Ladda, Ellen Letcher, Amy Lincoln, Mathew Miller, Jimmy Miracle, Brooke Moyse, Steve Pauley, Olivie Ponce, Kevin Regan, Aurora Robson, Mira Schor, Hilda Shen, Adam Simon, Stephen Truax, and Austin Thomas.

Some of the drawers in the Laundromat Flat File. (click to enlarge)
As an added treat, and until the end of summer, Storefront will also be housing the Laundromat Flat File, which consists of 30 drawers each by a single artist. These small drawers contain sculptures, paintings, drawings, installation, video, and even performance pieces that the viewer is invited to engage with. The 30 artists represented in the project are: Lauren Carbone,Sarah McDougald KohnJonathan AllaierMaria Walker,Chris DeoTim Belknap, Joe Protheroe, Audra Wolowiec, Patrick Cuffe, Daniel A. Bruce, Kaoru Sakurai, Ianthe JacksonLoie HollowellScott WilsonLiz AtzbergerBram Arnold, Lars Rasmussen, Amy LincolnJesse Bercowetz, Suzanne Goldenberg, Juliane ZelwiesRyan McCartney, Emily Blaskovich, Walsh Hansen, Eleanna AnagnosBrian Ravenholt JepsenBen GodwardHelena WurzelMichael Eudy and Kevin Andrew Curran.

Storefront Gallery‘s inaugural group show closes February 6. The gallery is open Saturdays 1-4pm, Sundays 1-6pm, or by appointment.

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