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In 2008, I wrote a story for The Brooklyn Rail titled “The Breakaway Republic of Bushwick” that outlined the emerging energy of the Bushwick scene at a time when it began asserting itself as decidedly NOT Williamsburg. Now there are signs that another splinter scene north of the ‘Wick, in the Queens’ neighborhood of Ridgewood to be precise, is expressing it’s own independence and why shouldn’t it?
With half a dozen gallery spaces (one of which, Regina Rex, participated in this past weekend’s Nada art fair), a historic 17th C. farmhouse that is hosting a sculpture show curated by Bushwick and Lower East Side gallerists Deborah Brown and Leslie Heller and the mothership of studio buildings that is 1717 Troutman, Ridgewood has all the trappings of an art scene all its own.
Now, this weekend the Queens Museum of Art is organizing a small art crawl in the arty hood and this is your chance to check it out. And, of course, the event has a Twitter hashtag: #RepQueens … is it short for Republic of Queens?
What should you expect from this fledgling Queens scene? Industrial spaces, emerging galleries, apartment spaces, DIY fabulousness, PBR and hipsters, just like in Williamsburg, East Wililamsburg, Greenpoint, I mean, Bushwick.
We’ve reached out to the Queens Museum for the comment and have yet to hear back. Are they planning a sneak attack down Flushing? Paratroopers into Maria Hernandez Park? Covert hipster partiers infiltrating Northeast Kingdom? Wait, that happens anyway. We’re not sure exactly what’s happening yet but we’ll let you know as soon as we hear back.
And for the history geeks out there, that big rock in the “crest” for the event flyer is “Arbitration Rock.” The large stone delineates the original 17th C. boundary between Queens and Brooklyn, but I’ll let Forgotten New York say the rest:
In the back yard of the Onderdonk House is a large rock surrounded by a picket fence. It is the official position of the Gtreater Ridgewood Historical Society that this is the hsitoric “Arbitration Rock” used to delineate the border, along the Brooklyn-Newtown Turnpike, of the borders of the towns of Bushwick and Newtown, or today’s Brooklyn-Queens line. In 1769 a large stone was used by surveyor Peter Marschalk to designate the boundary, which had been in dispute. The story goes that the rock had been left underground when Onderdonk Avenue was extended in 1930, and when the avenue was re-graded in 2000 the rock was exposed. It was moved to the backyard of the Onderdonk House the following year. The GRHS has yet to provide documentation in proof.
The recent border tensions reminded us that we actually coined the term “Bushwood” back in 2010 during our #TheSocialGraph show at Outpost Artists Resource to refer to the nebulous area of Bushwick and Ridgewood. We even added it to the Urban Dictionary.
We’ll give the last word to @MuseumNerd, who tweeted today, “Long live #Bushwood! Down with #Ridgewick!” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.