BOS Festival Diary: "You have to go deep"
FRIDAY, May, 30
The weight of 200 No BS BOS guides in my backpack pulls my bicycle downwards. I’m rolling down St. Nicholas at full speed and realize that I should really oil up my pedals soon. The faces of Bushwick Open Studios goers are a smudge in the distance. It is Friday night, and the neighborhood is buzzing with excitement.
I’m headed to The Active Space and Associated, two of my favorite galleries in the neighborhood. Jen Hitchings is an artist who doubles as a blogger for Bushwick Daily, sometimes for Arts in Bushwick, and co-runs Associated and works at Pierogi. Jen left a comment on our Instagram earlier today informing me that they don’t have any guides in the building, and I thought to myself, “Hey, sure I can bike down some; I’m going to the openings anyway.” What I didn't know was that I would spend the entire weekend with my backpack permanently filled (and refilled) with at least 200 copies of the guides.
I park my bike on Thames St. My hiking backpack is freakishly heavy with all the guides plus my Canon 5D mounted with a 50mm Carl Zeiss lens. I opted for this particular lens because it performs so well in low light, though it could be wider, I now realize. Same goes for my outfit. I’m wearing a romantic denim dress with thin straps - great for social occasions like BOS but not so great for biking around, even with the shorts I bought from Rainbow layered underneath. You win some, you lose some.
SATURDAY, June 1
It’s 1PM on Saturday – Damn it! I totally overslept! Last night’s festivities ended with drinks and a delicious, late night dinner at Bushwick’s Living Room.
I jump out of bed, and feed my cats, myself and my darling Ken, who is as tired as me. He spent the past weeks frantically painting Super Bushwick World to finish it on time for BOS. My exhaustion stems from the near all-nighters my team and I pulled getting the No BS BOS Guide together. The night before it went to print, we stayed up late at Maria’s house (What I would do without the multi-talented Maria, I have no idea!) She designed the whole thing while Laure made the map. Recently, I was blessed with the occurrence of the charmante Laure in my life, and she was exactly that little bit of support that makes the difference between getting the project done or not. Allison, our art editor was working her crazy Devil-Wears-Prada kind of job during the day and writing like a machine at night. Cat is the baller, the person who gets things done. Nothing would have been possible of course without Ashley's all-around awesomeness. Same can be said for Dimitri, the Greek writer doubling as distribution guru who politely said nothing when I was freaking out with 5,000 copies of the guide in my living room, and simply made sure the guides appeared where they were needed.
It's Saturday afternoon, and the sun is high. Biking around, I allowed myself exactly 5 minutes per location: Quick chat with the artist, snap the photos with the real camera, snap the photos with Bushwick Daily Instagram, NEXT! As I arrived to Norte Maar I realized the bitter truth: I forgot to charge my phone over night and I just hit the last 1% of the not too long battery life – there goes my Instagram. I curl up, almost defeated with Fern, the famous dog whose portraits are hanging on the walls, while Jason Andrew, my hero of the day, plugs my phone into his charger, and makes everything so much better, just like he usually does. “There goes my five minutes per location,” I’m thinking. “But it’s totally worth it…,” while Fern is chewing an ice cube oblivious to all her fame.
Onwards to Rock Street, where the site specific sculptures were awesome but the temperatures hotter than hell. Storefront Ten Eyck was like an oasis with a gentle breeze. I predict that things will never be the same on the Bushwick art scene thanks to Deborah Brown’s new beautiful gallery building.
Suddenly the blistering heat turns into night, and I find myself playing Bushwick board/drinking game at GamePad3000. My snobby “meh” turns into a total obsession with every roll of the die in what usually is a Knickerbocker apartment lived in by Jan-Luc Van Damme. Brief stop at a rooftop (bottles everywhere and smelling of piss), only to end up again at Bushwick’s Living Room. We’re discussing if BOS should stretch over more than one weekend in the future, and the pros and cons of it. I’m wondering how much longer until the physical map is not produced anymore, and is definitely replaced with a smart phone app. Somebody else wonders how much longer till the first corporate sponsors make their way to BOS and ruin it. Humans never expect good times to last… I’m wondering if it's some biblical conditioning? Like when Eve and Adam where kicked out of the paradise because they had it too good? Is this the last BOS of a kind? What does the future hold?
SUNDAY, June 2
On Sunday I wake up early, and run to the Laundromat across the street. I virtually have no clothes anymore – there goes my glamorous blogger life!
I bike (with the guides on my back, naturally) to the new, Broadway location of The Living Gallery. Nyssa’s green hair is wet as she’s chilling on a chair in a shade in front of the gallery; vinyl record player is playing Latin music. This is my first time at The Living Gallery since they moved from the Loom, and I love the new space dearly. It has so much character; it is so Bushwick, so real. Meryl Meisler is talking to Sofia, a woman who came from Jersey to see her exhibit. She was born on Myrtle Broadway, and recalls how dangerous it used to be. Her face is wet with tears when she says: “I had to leave, I just had to get out of here…” she repeats almost as if she betrayed a part of herself by leaving her beloved Bushwick. There is so much good going on in the Living Gallery, I could stay there forever, and just talk to Meryl and everyone who comes by, but I have to go because this is the last day…
On the Bushwick Collective triangle, Joe Ficalora with the huge help of Nooklyn did an incredible job with their Block Party. This is the center of the Universe for the moment. The sun is burning but crowds of people don’t mind, the bands are playing, and I have to realize again how hugely immersive BOS has become this year. I am moved and humbled by all the energy the neighborhood has put into this weekend. Julie Torres at Parallel impresses me again and again; a Thai food truck saves my life, just when I receive a text from Katey Chapman that her film screens in an hour at Onderdonk Farm House. The Nooklyn's block is hot, but I’m leaving the crowds to cap off this wonderful weekend at my beloved place – a farm between the warehouses on Flushing Avenue to watch the documentary about Uruguayan legend, painter and sculptor Julio Alpuy who makes me almost cry as he says in the film: “Materialism doesn’t favor going deep into things. You have to be patient; you have to take the time and go deep into things. You have to be honest, and make it a life long mission, and never move a single bit… ”