Unfortunately, another Bushwick art space has closed its doors. On August 1, El Sóntano, an art space that focuses on starting conversations about culture and society, said its final goodbye to their space on 313 Wilson Ave., due to a thousand dollar raise in rent.
“All of us [at El Sóntano] support the space by having full-time jobs,” Julio Rodriguez, the gallery’s director told Bushwick Daily. “They’re raising our rent by a thousand dollars, and unfortunately we just can’t do it right now.”
Along with El Sóntano, SOHO20 and NUTUREArt both closed earlier this summer due to insufficient funding. Continually, Little Skips, a go-to café for many Bushwick residents, is also closing because of a rent increase.
“We have existed for a little less than a year and during that time we have seen a lot of people and spaces being displaced,” Rodriguez said when speaking about how the community is changing.
For a final goodbye, the gallery did a series of three public performances at Maria Hernandez, Washington Square, and Union Square parks. The performance, CHOCA, “narrates the story of two cholos who struggle with feelings of romance towards each other,” as described in the press release. Mexican performers Jose Ramon Corra and Alberto Manuel Hiromoto explore both hypermasculinity and intimacy through dance.
“The choice to close the exhibition and our doors at 313 Wilson Ave., with a series of public interventions was aligned with this sentiment: to bring to the public sphere one of the ways on which queer folks live and breathe revolution and resistance,” Rodriguez told Bushwick Daily.
El Sóntano opened on October 13, 2018. Inspired by the alternative art space movement that started in the ‘70s, El Sóntano’s mission was to cultivate “a space for conversation that focuses on the cultural and social value of the arts rather than the capital value,” as stated on their website. Their exhibitions often focused on exposing emerging artists of color and LGBTQ+ artists.
“As we work to catalyze change, we seek to not only provide a space, but also support to all those who come to make El Sótano an artistic community,” they said in their mission statement.
Rodriguez is unsure of the future of El Sóntano. “We are considering creating pop-up events in areas that function as community spaces or teaming up with other organizations,” he said. Though a physical space is not feasible for the gallery at the moment, he hopes to continue to cultivate community and conversation through art. CHOCA was used as a way to “say thank you to Bushwick on a broader scale and to NYC as a whole for receiving the project we created , El Sótano, so warmly,” he said.
All images courtesy of El Sóntano.
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