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Dr. Lisa Asks the Experts: How to Get the Most Out of Bushwick Open Studios Weekend

It’s crazy making time again! As I’m writing this column to you now, I realize I am sublimating my own anxiety about the coming weekend that I also am personally invested in

Remember how cold it was when we were all registering for Bushwick Open Studios? photo: Etty Yaniv for AiB Blog

It’s crazy making time again! As I’m writing this column to you now, I realize I am sublimating my own anxiety about the coming weekend that I also am personally invested in. I thought as a service to us all, I would bring in some BOS experts--people who have been here for a long time and people who help to manage the whole deal. They were busy of course, but generous in sharing with us.

Read through all the advice, it’s totally worthwhile—but if you’re too busy creating and planning; as your trusty advice columnist, here’s my summary of the most consistent thoughts I found throughout the expert responses to my call for advice to artists and visitors.

 Advice For Artists: Take a break for an hour or two each day so you can see other people’s work. Also it’s a seriously special time for you to meet people and make connections—make the most of it, but you can’t control it, so relax... Also professionalism counts. Open on time, have business cards and a sign-in sheet.

Advice for Visitors:

Check over the guide to see what appeals to you. Most importantly, visit places on the map that aren’t as obvious as the warehouse buildings. Discover the neighborhood and less massively traveled spaces. Make your experience your own.

Also, for some reason, all the experts want you to drink water (why? Are we 5 years old, and can’t tell when we’re thirsty?),  but none of them said anything about toilets. So I'm here to tell you they will bring in a lot of Porta-Potties. Fear not—they’re really pretty clean.

 

As promised, some words from the wise...

DEBORAH BROWNartist and gallery owner at Storefront Ten Eyck

Deborah Brown (photo by Katarina Hybenova)

She’s been in Bushwick since ’06. To really find out about all the community stuff art and otherwise that she’s involved in, do your own research because so much has already been written about her.

1. What advice would you give to an artist participating in BOS?

What's magical about BOS is that anyone could walk in the door to your studio. That said, it probably won't be Larry Gagosian. Nonetheless, visitors are a diverse, engaged group who are serious about seeing your work. It's a wonderful opportunity to slow down and talk with people about art and the Bushwick community. Over the 8 years that I have participated in BOS, I have met people whom I would never have met, many who grew up in Bushwick and had much to tell me about the neighborhood.

2. What advice would you give to a visitor for enjoying BOS?

Don't try to see it all. There's a universe in an Aleph. Any corner of Bushwick will do. Dig in and discover. I wish I could be out there, too, but I will be minding the store at Ten Eyck!

 

KATARINA HYBENOVA, Editor-in–Chief of Bushwick Daily

Katarina Hybenova (photo by Ken Kocses)

 1. What advice would you give to an artist participating in BOS?

Unleash your wildest imagination- in other words do something crazy, something you've always wanted to do but never had the courage. The festival is huge and in order to stand out from the crowd, you need to let your freak flag fly!

2. What advice would you give to an artist participating in BOS?

Grab a copy of No BS BOS guide. Also drink water!

 

MERYL MEISLER, artist in Bushwick since 1981! She had work up at Life Cafe in 2007 during the first BOS.

Portrait of Meryl Meisler by Catherine Kirkpatrick for BOS 2014 Blog

Advice for both visitors and participants:

Remember to wear sunscreen, dress comfortably, hydrate hydrate hydrate and take time to eat and rest. Walk and log in thousands of healthy steps and look, look, listen and take it in and get energized.

Lessons learned from past BOS experience at an exhibitor:

Everyone who visits you is important. Life changing connections can happen when you least expect it. Have a book for people to sign in and give contact info if they would like to be keep informed about your future exhibits and events. If you don’t have a business card- make some up quickly, you can buy sheets ready to pop out from your own printer. People expect you to be there. If you have to step out of your space for a spell, leave up a sign in a visible area when you will be back. If you have press releases or lists of work available, make some extra photocopies in case anyone requests.

Come to Meryl's Book Launch– Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick, @Bizarre, 12 Jefferson St., on Friday, May 30.

LUCIA ROLLOW, co-organizer of Bushwick Open Studios as well as the Director of Bushwick Community Darkroom

Lucia Rollow at old Darkroom.

 1. What advice would you give to an artist participating in BOS?

Artists participating in BOS should make sure to get out of their studios a little bit too. Things are going on all day and all night so take an hour or two and go make a new friend!

2. What advice would you give to a visitor for enjoying BOS?

Visitors should not try to stick to a plan or schedule. The festival is huge and you just have to let yourself wander a little bit, you never know what you'll find around the next corner.

 

SUSAN HAMBURGER: Artist with a studio in Bushwick for 8 years. This is her 4th BOS.

 1. What advice would you give to an artist participating in BOS?

Even if you're in a very busy building, try to take a break because at some point you will probably feel like a zoo animal. Also, don't put out all your snacks at once!

2. What advice would you give to a visitor for enjoying BOS?

When you talk to participating artists, ask them about their work, not about how much they pay for rent.

 HENRY SANCHEZ, Bushwick artist for the past 8 years

Still from Sanchez's English Kills project at Chico's Laundromat.

1. What advice would you give to an artist participating in BOS?

Enlist friends who will watch your studio/exhibition/installation for an hour at a time. When you do, don't forget you have to eat, get away for 2-3 hours each day to check out other's artwork. This way you wont be so frustrated about what you are missing. And go to the parties and meet your fellow neighborhood artists, for jeez sakes!

2. What advice would you give to a visitor for enjoying BOS?

You wont be able to see everything. Impossible. Check out the online BOS directory to find what you would be interested in seeing. Yes, you can see a lot of art in the warehouse buildings that have plenty of studios. But you might have more fun getting out in the neighborhood and finding something unexpected. Walk around and discover something!

Check out Henry Sanchez's project for this coming weekend at Chicos Laundromat.

JULIA SINELNIKOVA, Artist and Co-organizer of Bushwick Open Studios for over six years.

1. What advice would you give to an artist participating in BOS?

Don't skimp on the little things. Clean your studio, make sure there's soap in the bathroom, get some wine and glasses, label your work, make a price list, have a stack of business cards, etc. You'll feel more comfortable talking to visitors and potential collectors if you feel completely confident in the way you're presenting your studio - even if it means a little running around before the big weekend.

Get some sleep! There are too many parties this weekend, but try to make it home by 2am if you want to be functional while entertaining a steady stream of strangers. PROMOTE YOUR SHOW. With so many different studios and exhibitions throughout the neighborhood, be sure to reach out by phone and email to your personal contacts.

2. What advice would you give to a visitor for enjoying BOS?

Don't try to see it all. Follow your nose. Don't worry about not making it to this or that event, with over 600 different shows scheduled throughout the weekend. I highly recommend walking or biking around by yourself, giving yourself the freedom to move quickly and to linger in spaces that inspire you. Follow the borders of the map. See the unexpected at the edge of Bushwick, farther from the jam-packed studio buildings near the Morgan and Jefferson stops.

 

CHRISTOPHER STOUT, Artist and Founder of Bushwick Art Crit Group

Christopher Stout at Select Art Fair

What advice would you give to an artist participating in BOS?

BOS is a truly magical time when NYC gallerists, curators, collectors, and museum people have the ability to stealthfully conduct anonymous studio visits seeking NEW artist relationships. A TON of important connections get made. More than anything else, I would suggest to participating artists that BOS isn't really YOUR party as much as it is a 7-hour a day job interview cleverly disguised as a party for other people.

HERE are some hints about setting yourself up for some BOS art world magic…

1.  Open on time; stay open till your posted close.

2.  Bring plenty of nourishment to your studio to stay hydrated and energized during your open studios presentation. Stay sober.

3.  Try to think about what questions people will ask and prepare short interesting answers. Have helpful recommendations on other events and interesting things that are close to you. Be connected and connecting.

4  Have a card with your information to give to people which includes your portfolio link and social media handles; have a sign-in sheet to get good contact information for later usage in your own Marketing purposes.

5.  THANK people of visiting your space.

6.  Most importantly, have fun. Artists all over the world would LOVE to be where you are right now. This is our Eden and this is our arts movement in New York.

2. What advice would you give to a visitor for enjoying BOS?

My personal take on BOS is that it's really really REALLY all about what the name suggests… the artist studios. Bushwick has amazing resataurants, galleries, vintage stores, bars and coffee shops. These things are also readily available and open for business in Bushwick 52 weekends of the year.

What we have that is exceptionally unique and ONLY available for you during BOS is the ability to freely walk through our creative intellectual property and meet the artists that make New York a verdant and fascinating place for creativity. If your BOS experience consists of a couple of galleries, some street gawking and then drinking at the bar for two hours while waiting for a table at Roberta's, you have entirely missed the point. You haven't done Bushwick at all, but an outsiders version of Bushwick, which would be a travesty.

 

 

So I'm hoping you can just chill out now okay? It's not that hard. I really appreciate everyone's help with contributing to this column. Please forgive me if I left something out that you said or maybe even I might have spelled your name wrong. I'm really uptight right now. I've got to be all set up in less than 2 days!!!

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