NURTUREart began by putting on shows in borrowed space – empty Lower East Side storefronts, the corporate lobby of Citibank, the United Nations. Today they maintain their own gallery space here at 56 Bogart. For 15 years this non-profit organization has been supporting and promoting new artists and curators. Here’s a tour of where they’ve been and where they’re going.
The project that became NURTUREart began in 1997 with founder George Robinson, who ran a slide registry out of his Washington Heights apartment. He was committed to helping artists through the early stages of their careers. Moving eastward with the burgeoning Brooklyn art scene, NURTUREart opened its own gallery space on Keep St. in Williamsburg, then moved to 910 Grand St. in 2009, and finally settled at 56 Bogart St. in Bushwick a year and a half ago.
Executive Director Marco Antonini commented on the move from Grand St. to Bogart St., “The 910 Grand St. Gallery was an amazing space to work with but somehow isolated from our peers and, in a special way, from the activity of the emerging artists and curators that NURTUREart primarily works with.” He cited the greater foot traffic in the area, the collaborative art community, and an overall positive group mentality. Adding, “by the time of our move, that activity had already reached a critical mass in Bushwick, so the choice felt very logical.”
The communal feel of the Bushwick art scene was a significant motivating factor. The density of galleries in the Bogart St. area helps attract a lot of foot traffic, and adds to the success of all galleries in the area. Anonini mentioned the Bushwick & Ridgewood Galleries as an example of a communal project, as well as the 56Bogart Tumblr started by NURTUREart interns.
On whether Bushwick will go the way of Williamsburg, he says that he thinks it is unlikely there will be any artist exodus any time soon. He also questioned the assumption that galleries play a big role in making life either significantly better or harder for artists, at least in terms of real estate. He added, “the art scene will hopefully extend to occupy this expanded territory [of Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and Ridgewood], punctuating it rather than amassing itself in one or two areas. I believe that a more spread out community will have a better way to communicate with the local reality, and become a part of it.” As for the future, “it is hard to imagine anything else but growth and expansion in the local art scene. We are on a roll!”
Upcoming events this summer at NURTUREart include an exhibition, “The Indifference of Wisdom” (curated by advanced art students from Juan Morel Campos High School, mentored by curator Julian Jimarez Howard), and Videorover Season 6 (“performance-inspired works made for the camera”). If you are an emerging artist or independent curator, you can also register to be part of the new Registry of Artists and Curators.
As Antonini says (and I’m sure we would all agree), “I personally feel like we are part of an unfolding discourse here.”