I’m sitting on a bench on Bogard Street, sipping my latte and observing crowds emerging from the Morgan subway stop melting into Bushwick. It’s a perfect autumn Sunday, you couldn’t possibly ask for a better weather. The air is crystal clear and the sky is ridiculously wide and blue. Bushwick is vibrant today. People have been carrying obscure objects, preparing, assembling, attaching blue posters since the morning. The art festival Beta Spaces 2010 is about to start.
Under the lead of a volunteer organization Arts in Bushwick, the visual artists have opened their studios, apartments, lofts and galleries to the public. There are 50 locations and more than 400 individual artists participating. Ali Ashman, the lead organizer, curator and an artist explains that Beta Spaces is a self-organized festival where all the participants are responsible for their show. Despite the large number of participating artists, there are recurring motives, common themes and ideas, such as a notion of home, recycled or found materials and visitor involvement. Frequently, visitors get to participate in the show and become part of the art creation. You can have brunch at Marni Kotas’ house or you can have your broken piece of art fixed by Jefferson Orgy Body. You can play a GPS scavenger game or observe virtual objects alongside reality using a smartphone application.
Bushwick is bursting with creativity and you cannot remain uninspired when exploring warehouse labyrinths, talking with artists and curators. The festival manifests how massively rich the art scene is in Bushwick and how incredibly unique is this neighborhood with such a large concentration of visual artists per square feet. But art creation is not the only motive of the festival, Beta Spaces provides a platform for a dialogue on the role and impact of the artists in the neighborhood, the neighborhood changes and gentrification.