As the neighborhood reeled from the news that hundreds of artists are being forced to leave one of its biggest studio complexes, Gowanus became a hotbed of activity this past weekend during Gowanus Open Studios (GOS). With over 300 artists opening up their workspaces, the annual event’s 19th edition drew crowds to all corners of the Superfund neighborhood to see studios, galleries, ephemeral installations, and performances — though if you were wondering about the guy who swam the entire length of the Gowanus Canal on Saturday morning, that was not performance art.
In addition to visiting many studios over the course of the weekend, I had the privilege (once again) of organizing a curator-led tour on behalf of Arts Gowanus (the nonprofit that organizes GOS). Between the artists I discovered on my tour and the spaces I visited before and after, I saw an incredible range of work this weekend, from the maximalist mixed-media pieces of Leeza Meksin in her studio behind Ortega y Gasset Projects to the spare found-materials sculptures of Kimberly Mayhorn in the TI Art Studios. One particularly prevalent trend seemed to be the inventive and unconventional use of materials, including Carrie Rubinstein‘s paper room installation at Rhombus Space, Katrina Majkut‘s finely cross-stitched still lifes of birth control products at Brooklyn Art Space, and Maeve Broome‘s dazzling marbled clothing designs at the Textile Arts Center.
How the loss of the artists being pushed out of the buildings on 9th Street — who adorned their exteriors with highly visible protest messages during a rally on Saturday — will affect future editions of GOS remains to be seen. However, the sad news seems to have galvanized attention and interest this year, bringing visitors to the area’s studios and art spaces all weekend long.
Gowanus Open Studios 2015 took place throughout Gowanus, Brooklyn, October 16–18.