A bit more than a year ago, Naomi Safran-Hon opened her studio to the public as part of the Brooklyn Museum’s GO community-curated project and was worried that no one would show up. The 29-year old Safran-Hon was one of the 1,708 artists who participated, and in the end, she was chosen as one of the five winning artists to exhibit her work at the Brooklyn Museum. Visiting her studio in Crown Heights, I’m not surprised that a large number of people who showed up voted for her work, which combines cement and lace and possesses a haunting quality that forces you to linger in front of her paintings.
Last September, GO Brooklyn presented a chance for New York locals to discover a new side of non-traditional art neighborhoods, with 1,708 artists opening their studios to visitors in areas like Fort Greene, Crown Heights, and even Coney Island. After a round of voting and a final list of 10 nominees, the Brooklyn Museum’s curators have chosen five artists to show at the museum.
We already chimed in about GO Brooklyn’s Top 10 nominees but now they field has been shaved to five artists who will be featured in an exhibition, which opens December 1, at the Brooklyn Museum.
Art should be for everyone, right?
The Brooklyn Museum’s GO Brooklyn event netted an estimated 147,000 studio visits to 1,708 artists over the weekend of September 8 and 9. Over the art-packed weekend (which we documented here), studio explorers nominated their favorite artists, and now we have the top 10 nominees. Surprisingly, none of the final artists live in Williamsburg or Bushwick, and the majority work in traditional media.
I approached the massive GO Brooklyn open studios event, which was organized by the Brooklyn Museum, with some hesitation. I was unsure about the sinking feeling I had that the Brooklyn Museum may be trying to co-opt the borough’s massive visual arts scene in order to give it a much needed PR boost. Why did Brooklyn’s premiere fine arts museum need to consolidate this DIY tradition into open studio sprawl? Adding to my trepidation was the notion of checking-in and voting that made the whole affair seem more competitive and trendy.
This past weekend, hundreds of Brooklyn artists opened their studios to the public for GO Brooklyn Art, allowing visitors an intimate view of their work and processes. I headed to Fort Greene and Clinton Hill to see the how the neighborhoods’ artists, many of whom work out of converted domestic spaces — tucked away in brownstones, behind the steel doors of former garages, and in the basements and dorm rooms of Pratt, live with their art.
With over 200 artists participating in GO Brooklyn in my neck of the woods of Greenpoint, I decided to beat the crowds and visit the farthest reaches of Brooklyn, choosing the last page in the festival brochure with the least amount of artists participating: Coney Island. Here’s what I found.
When the artists of Red Hook, the waterfront neighborhood on the western edge of Brooklyn, opened up their studios for the GO Brooklyn weekend, it felt more like they opened Pandora’s box. There was no limit to the creativity on view — every trend, mannerism, style, and strategy imaginable was on display. Still, certain threads emerged from the time I spent exploring. The three themes that I spotted in Red Hook were glass vessels, dot fields, and the Old Testament.
What do you do when the technology you depend on every day messes up? Instead of getting frustrated or throwing a machine out, Phillip Stearns makes art out of errors. We talked to Stearns in his Brooklyn studio about glitch art and bringing technological bugs into the home.
I’m skeptical of crowd-curating and crowd-sourced art-prize voting. I’ve written about it here on Hyperallergic. Still, as the date approached, I found myself really excited about this past weekend’s GO open studios event, organized by the Brooklyn Museum — not because I wanted to vote for who would win a show at the museum (I’m not voting), but because I wanted a chance to meet artists in the neighborhood where I live, Crown Heights.
The waterfront of Sunset Park in south Brooklyn was a major hub for military shipping and related industry from the world wars until its decommissioning in 1960, and, as happens with underused monumental warehouse spaces, artists have now moved into some of these towering structures. This past weekend’s GO open studios, organized by the Brooklyn Museum, were all about engaging the borough with its local artists in a community curation project for a December group exhibition, so I decided to explore the studios of artists creating work in these relics of industry lining the Brooklyn shore.