While extended rain showers soaked New York City for the sixth Saturday in a row, the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park invited visitors to drop into several arts spaces throughout the weekend for its annual open studios event celebrating the area’s expanding creative community. Dozens of participating venues nestled within industrial scapes and residential streets opened their doors for art aficionados and unassuming passersby alike.
Taking a leaf from Bushwick and Gowanus, Sunset Park Wide Open debuted its new rebrand as Sunset Park Open Studios starting last Friday evening, October 13. Welcoming back a variety of community staples and introducing a handful of new participants, the open studios event, organized by the New York Art Residency and Studios (NARS) Foundation since 2019, is now the starter project of the newly formed Sunset Park Wide Open nonprofit organization made up of local arts and fabrication spaces looking to engage with the neighborhood beyond the annual event.
The shared building housing J&M Studios and the NARS Foundation was buzzing with excited visitors convening with artists whose doors were open to the public on Friday night. Program Manager Katherine Plourde told Hyperallergic that some 400 visitors bounced between the two floors throughout the duration of the weekend, noting that it was the “best turnout they’d ever had” in spite of Saturday’s gloomy rain showers.
Special highlights on the second floor J&M studios included Sunset Park-based artist and art therapist Margot Werner’s textile, embroidery, and painting practice unpacking memories associated with specific interior spaces, and the joint display of Jeremiah Teipen’s projected and reflected animations in conjunction with Eun Young Choi’s ultra-precise hand-cut vinyl works. Up on the fourth floor, newly arrived NARS resident and Melbourne artist Sue Beyer had already outfitted her studio with explorations of self-portraiture through ad data and machine learning.
Christina Massey, a long-term resident of Sunset Park and brand-new resident at Art Cake, echoed last year’s open studios participants’ sentiments about how Bushwick became too expensive to sustain an art practice, and that the South Brooklyn neighborhood offered more material resources, easier transit, and overall a better atmosphere to work and commune in.
“I just feel like everyone wants to help each other out,” she told Hyperallergic. “It’s very communal — like a team — rather than competitive. Since there’s only so many places to visit, so why not support each other?”
Yi Gallery and Thomas VanDyke Gallery both returned to the program roster for their second year and hit the ground running. The former, based in Building 2 of Industry City, had been completely blacked out from floor to ceiling for Eternal Current, a solo presentation of Bushwick artist Annesta Le’s new neon works centered on fluidity and dreams. Illuminated by the soft blue light emanating from the neons, gallerist Cecilia Zhang Jalboukh shared that she felt more embedded in the Sunset Park community since her participation in last year’s Open Studios, and that as a board member of the new Sunset Park Wide Open nonprofit, she’s excited to collaborate with neighborhood advocacy organizations for unique programming.
Thomas VanDyke Gallery held an opening reception on Sunday, welcoming visitors to be among the first to view What Would Your Husband Think?, a two-person show elevating the feminist practices of Zhen Guo and Carol Scavotto. The gallery recently expanded the back portion of their premises for additional exhibition space since it opened in July 2022.
Joining the weekend programming for the first time was the Context Space just outside of Industry City. The artist-run gallery and publishing platform was open for the weekend, showcasing their member exhibition Submerging — the last show to take place in the space before the gallery becomes nomadic for the foreseeable future. One of Context’s founding artists, Joshua Nierodzinski, told Hyperallergic that the new art endeavor landed up in the Sunset Park gallery space thanks to a chance suggestion from a friend, but settled in quite neatly with the neighborhood’s warm arts community.
“We definitely want to stay in Sunset Park if we can find another space to work in,” Nierodzinski said.