2013 was a momentous year for art in Bushwick. While the New York art world in itself saw tremendous growth and lavishness, Bushwick, too, was home to a many new galleries, levity, and even revelry. As the buzz and dare I say hype continues to grow for the art scene in Bushwick, here’s a look at the stories that we here at Bushwick Daily see as the markers of some great things that have come and will foresee to come in our neighborhood’s artistic future. In no particular order, here are the top ten art goings of Bushwick 2013. I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring! Cheers!
#1 The Graces of Grace Exhibition Space
While Grace Exhibition Space remains an important fixture in Bushwick, they proved themselves time and again this year as an international performance art residency and venue. From their epic summer series of world renowned performances with the likes of La Pocha Nostra, to the more recent and energetic Non Grata performances, the unassuming Bushwick nonprofit along the Broadway stretch of the JMZ track on Broadway continually brought incredible and world-class performance art to Bushwick. While Marina and Lady G have their centers and crystals, we here in Bushwick love our performance art raw, unexpected, and never ordinary!
#2 Banksy Stalking!
2013 shall be remembered as the year of Bansky! As the famed British street artist made fools of the (art) world as we all shamelessly followed his every move (yes, even you Hyperallergic!) While thousands flocked to far corners of New York City, we in Bushwick got hit and hit again, culminating in what I think was a most poignant cartoon by our very own Jeremy Nguyen.
#3 OUTLET Fine Art Found New Faces and New Inspiration
It isn’t uncommon for art galleries to change directors or venues, but this year proved to be an exciting one for OUTLET Fine Art. OUTLET proved to be a force to be reckoned with earlier this year under the guidance of curator/directors, Julian Jimarez-Howard and Aliza Kelly, the gallery on Bushwick’s southside found a new spirit and focus as collaborators Jason Andrew and John Silvas completely revamped the direction and mission of the gallery this fall. The dynamic trio have a goal not just to show new and innovative artists (which is nothing new in Bushwick) but also strive to bring new energy, focus, and (money) to Bushwick artists by matching collectors and institutions to artists in a way that is refreshing and necessary for Bushwick to continue to be a force in the New York art world.
#4 The Rise and Fall of Apostrophe Gallery
Apostrophe Gallery, a hotspot in the underground art scene in Bushwick and home to some amazing art shows and concerts, was raided by the fire department and shut down this year. The gallery, founded by brothers Sei and Ki Smith, tragically met a premature closure due to fire code violations early this fall. While the space boasted unforgettable DJ sets in a bunker-style basement below and always surprising and interesting exhibitions by local artists above, the venue doesn’t seem likely to open its doors again soon, but the Smith brothers have assured me that they have exciting plans in store… Just don’t plan on being able to find out about upcoming parties on Facebook!
#5 Bushwick Open Studios
Each spring Bushwick’s artists register to open up their studios to locals and tourists (meaning Manhattanites) alike. This past iteration of one of the weekends, like years in the past, boasted hundreds of artists participating, galleries promoting special programming, outdoor art installations and more. Unlike past years, this year Bushwick Daily decided to hand pick our best galleries, studios and parties to make it easier to navigate the colossal affair. Hundreds of visitors were seen clutching the pocket-sized published guides to the event that attempted to make the daunting maze of studios and exhibitions manageable for everyone from the novice to the expert.
#6 Beat Nite Reigns Supreme
Not once, but twice this year, Bushwick saw the epic event that is Beat Nite grace its streets. Jason Andrew of Norte Maar Gallery brought the eighth and ninth editions of Bushwick Beat Nite in February and October, uniting Bushwick art galleries in a curated crawl from venue to venue, culminating in fantastic after parties. All in the attempt to create a unified feel and allow for less recognized or new spaces to be seen, this years Beat Nites proved to be not only great fun, but also a reminder of the expert level of art and curation in our fair neighborhood.
#7 Blurring of the Ridgewood/Bushwick Border
As the monetary and social interest in Bushwick only continued to increase this year, we saw a rising number of galleries and residents push into Ridgewood. I don’t think that I only speak for myself when I say that the benevolent annexation of Ridgewood into Bushwick (if not in name but sentiment) could not have been felt more strongly this past year, if only evident by some exciting new spaces in our Queens neighboring ‘hood. In addition to the wonderful 17-17 Troutman building that offers a home to “Bushwick” stalwarts such as Regina Rex and Parallel Art Space, and new-comers Harbor Gallery and Ortega Y Gasset Projects, other galleries deeper into Ridgewood have also popped up, like the wonderful Lorimoto Gallery. From what we’ve seen from past exhibitions, we expect great things for this on-the-border gallery.
#8 Storefront Expands to Ten Eyck
One of the iconic and established galleries in Bushwick, Storefront Bushwick expanded this year to a new and more spacious home on Ten Eyck street. Deborah Brown, an artist and the founder and director of Storefront made this brazen move into what I believe to be a potential gallery hotspot- a location flush with warehouses and space! The new Storefront boasts not only a bigger gallery but also a front “project space” that allows for Brown to show multiple shows at once in a well deserved size. If this year’s exhibition openings are any indication, Storefront’s new home will continue to be the talk of the town!
#9 Hey Jerry, He Likes It!
While Jerry Saltz, the notorious New York art critic’s visit to Bushwick shouldn’t be a surprise (after all, we all know how cool it is!), the Twitter buzz that ensued was absolute mania, culminating in an epic battle between Bushwick art world heavyweights not only repping the impressive offerings of the Bushwick art world to Mr. Satlz, but also standing up for the fact that he seemed to think that no one was really noticing, nor covering the neighborhood! Thanks, Jerry! We love you, and we only hope you come back to see more in the future!
#10 Bushwick Went Basel
Whether more of a comment on the party-centric nature of the Miami Art Basel Fair in December, or the perception of Bushwick by the greater art world, Bushwick responded this year by bringing a very Bushwick-esque party to Miami. Creators Ms. Fitz and Angelina Dreem put on a Bushwick-worthy spectacle, Bushwick Gone Basel in Miami complete with performances, PBR, and even the threat of a party bus! The event was one of the most talked about parties this year, making Bushwick’s mark as not just a trend, but a lifestyle.