Last fall, the shutting down of Apostrophe, a beloved art gallery and after hours spot devastated the Bushwick underground scene. It’s been almost a year and Ki and Sei Smith, the brothers that founded the space in 2012, have had lots of time to think, scheme and strategize a plan for a new, improved and completely legal business that will combine a gallery, club space, bar, and boutique all in one. In order to give this dream legs, Ki and Sei launched a Kickstarter campagn to raise $75,000 before August 19th.
The end of an era, the start of something new
“When our space was shut down, at first it was all crazy, but when you sit back it’s actually really nice because it gave us the opportunity to observe our project a little bit more from the outside and see what we’d been doing, and then we realized that we’d created a platform [that could become] the project that we always really wanted to do” Ki said recently to Bushwick Daily in an interview. The project is certainly ambitious – the proposal is for a space five times the size of their old space, that will include a dual club/gallery space, a garden, food truck, and even solar panels (not part of their Kickstarter budget) to help the space be energy efficient. Of the proposed place, Ki says “we just kind of let our ideas go wild, like ‘what do we want, do we want this, do we want that?’”
While there is no doubt in the ambitious nature of the proposed plans, more important than the money to the brothers is the backing of the community. “One of the ideas with the Kickstarter is to show that there’s public interest for a space like this and to show that there are a lot of artists who are really enthusiastic about it…” Ki continued.
A Tale of Two Parties – Sight & Sound
A couple weekends ago, Ki and Sei had the opportunity to showcase the kind of tremendous community support and interest for a venue that is half party/half gallery with Sight & Sound, a party/installation set between two different venues within walking distance near the Wilson L train. DJs, light and sound installations, a bbq… these guys know how to throw a party! While a little milder than some of the parties of the old Apostrophe days, Ki and Sei are making sure people don’t forget its spirit and dynamism.
While it was kind of fun to walk between the two spaces, alternating to grab a kebab in the backyard of one space, to the DJ set at the other, this only reaffirmed the necessity of the venue space that the brothers are proposing. Possessing all the elements of the frenetic, artistic community that comprises Bushwick, Ki and Sei have that rare ability to find and bring together disparate ideas, sounds, sights, into one whole schizophrenic glorious spectacle in the absolute best way possible. Sei expresses this idea, saying “I find that all the different projects… complement each other when they’re done simultaneously,” as Ki chimes in “that’s a really nice thing about running Apostrophe, which attracts so many different types of artists…they’re doing the show for you, but at the same time they’re also doing all these other things.”
When talking to the brothers about their ideas and aspirations for the new space and the possible projects they would do, there is an excitement and eagerness to bring these new, creative endeavors to the heart of Bushwick—a refreshing reprieve from some of the jaded and negative voices about the impending gentrification of the neighborhood and the loss of many beloved bars and gallery spaces. The brothers want to keep this creative energy and vitality in the neighborhood- never once do they mention making a profit or capitalizing on the growth of the neighborhood. While speaking to the brothers at Sight & Sound, Ki even mused on the idea of making the space a non-profit with a for-profit aspect, kind of like Joe’s Pub and the Public Theater.
Right now, the focus for Ki and Sei is getting more backers and reaching their goal on Kickstarter—while they have a long way to go by August 19th, the brothers are already happy with the response. “The number that really counts, for me,” Ki says, “is the number of backers, because if we can get a couple hundred backers, it’s really possible to approach people who would like to invest in a place like this, and it’ll be very easy to demonstrate that there’s public interest, whether we make our goal or not.”
Help Ki and Sei reach their goal on Kickstarter before August 19th to keep make Apostrophe a reality again. To thank all of the backers, Ki and Sei will be throwing a “Backer’s Only” Party at an undisclosed location on August 23rd. Once you donate, you’ll be emailed the party’s secret location—ah, such a memory of their more clandestine days.
UPDATE: This Friday from 6-7PM, Ki and Sei will hold a gorilla-style art exhibition on the Kosciusko Street J train platform. Literally bringing art to the street, this special one night event breaks down the barrier between the white cube gallery and the public [AG].
Here’s the Kickstarter Video for Apostrophe