By Katarina Hybenova

It’s been subject to whispering and rumours for a couple of weeks now. This year’s Bushwick Open Studios will bring much news. A smart phone app for better orientation; more studios and art spaces than ever; the L train running (!); and Bushwick’s first very own art fair.

Bushwick’s artistic community has been growing every year, BOS being the most obvious evidence of this growth, and it seems that we have reached the point where it might be necessary to highlight.

Bushwick Basel is organized by Bushwick’s ultra successful artist of French origin, Jules de Balincourt. Jules, unlike the majority of Bushwick artists who price their art in hundreds of dollars, has gained international recognition and regularly sells his artwork for hundreds of thousands dollars.  Bushwick Basel will be held in his studio, Starr Space. Instead of booths, the galleries will be divided by curtains. 11 galleries that are participating in this venture will present single person shows, in addition to their own shows in their art spaces.

The name of the art fair, Bushwick Basel refers to Art Basel in Switzerland,  a large-scale international art fair.

Jules de Balicourt was quoted by Gallerist NY saying that he hates art fairs, and that Bushwick Basel is sort of a parody, but also sort of not.

Having been a part of an art fair this year during Armory Week, I had mixed feelings about an art fair in Bushwick, famous for apartment art shows and DIY. Despite Jules de Balincourt clearly not organizing fancy Frieze, I had to ask, “Is it a good idea or not?”

I asked 4 of the 11 participating galleries about their reasons behind participation in Bushwick Basel. This is what they told us. What do you think?

#1 Deborah Brown from Storefront Bushwick 

“I love the idea of Bushwick Basel, and I commend Jules for organizing it, for harnessing our collective energy, and for putting his prestige behind this event. The participants include many of those who have pioneered the Bushwick art scene from the beginning.  They represent the DIY, grass-roots ethos of the place. The fair gives us a chance to showcase our activities in the ‘curated’ context of Starr Street Space.  It is a total winner for everyone!

Storefront Bushwick will feature a solo show of the work of a fantastic Brooklyn-based artist, Adam Parker Smith whose work is both seductive and subversive.  He has shown recently at AIRPLANE, ‘Ghost Face’, Small Black Door, and in ‘This Side of Paradise’ at the Andrew Freedman House in the Bronx curated by No Longer Empty.

I was involved in the initial discussion re this art fair. Jules asked my advice re the wisdom of doing it, how it would be perceived, and who should be asked to participate.  Jules took many of my suggestions, including the decision to ask Momenta and NurtureArt to be part of the mix.

I am excited to be part of Bushwick Basel and think it will give artists in our community a new platform and a wider audience for their work.”

#2 Jason Andrew of Norte Maar

“Bushwick Open Studios has always been about the artist. Either the artist’s work, or the artist’s ideas. I think it’s great that Jules de Balincourt, as an artists, is tossing the idea of an ‘art fair’ into the mix. The Arts in Bushwick’s mentality has always been non-hierarchical, all-encompassing, and self-driven. Jules, is one of the most generous people in our neighborhood. I remember attending church socials, community yoga, experimental theater and many cool parties for Bushwick Open Studios at Starr Space, which he owns (now his studio). Jules, I think is curious, as we are all. Bushwick is still experimental. Or at least that’s how I still see it. Just because a bunch of ‘galleries’ load themselves into a building, are we all suddenly governed by some unwritten rules? What, are we in Chelsea now? Norte Maar is psyched to be a part of Jules’ fair and we can’t wait to hang in the ‘collector’s’ lounge. We will be showing the complete collages of Pass Kontrol’s Oliver Ralli.”

#3 Rob de Oude from Parallel Art Space

“I’m not sure if Bushwick Basel is so much of a prank. Other then it maybe coming across as just that, it is more so a great opportunity for people from the neighborhood and from outside the area to get a sampler of sorts of the kind of galleries that are out here. I think the participating galleries certainly don’t treat this as less than serious and will do their best to make this a great event with great art. As for what probably will make it being different from any “Fair” fair is that the emphasis will be more on a curated effort as opposed to a ‘for sale’ show. We in particular are very excited to participate since we had just moved into the neighborhood from Williamsburg and feel we’re being welcomed warmly. Plus it is, of course, exciting to show in the same space and being affiliated with such a great selection of participating galleries. We will be featuring works by Clinton King who is currently also showing at our gallery together with Gary Petersen, Lance Lankford, Suzanne Stroebe and Andrew Zarou in a show called Alter Minimal.”

#4 Lars Kremer from AIRPLANE

“AIRPLANE is participating in Bushwick Basel because we were asked to, and it seemed like too interesting of an opportunity to turn down. At first I thought that the title sounded a bit facetious, but upon meeting Jules and seeing the space and the galleries that are  participating, we were sold. It’s an unusual opportunity to be able to collaborate with other spaces on a concept and create an atmosphere. I don’t view it as a prank or a parody, it’s more like a positive and interesting experiment. It’s going to be fun. AIRPLANE will be showcasing an extension of Plein Air, an indoor/outdoor group show that will be on view during BOS,  featuring works that literally or figuratively “go back to nature”