Monday, November 1, 2010

North Brooklyn's public art scene will further thrive through nbART

The words "art" and "artists" will always get associated with these three words: "Greenpoint", "Williamsburg" and "Bushwick. North Brooklyn has garnered the reputation as a thriving community of artists. But what do those three places say about "public art"?  The community itself is a conducive space where creativity flows. Yet, is the need for community engagement being addressed?  These are the questions leading to the creation of the "North Brooklyn Public Arts Coalition", also known as "nbART", to increase awareness of  public art in the North Brooklyn area. There is just too much talent brewing and expressed there for the community to absorb. Art in Odd Places definitely supports nbART's vision and we expect great things along the way for the organization.

nbART recently had a successful relaunch party last October 5. We contacted Arielle Friedman, Curator and Deputy Director of Marketing,  and Katie Denny, Executive Director, to give us more information about their organization.

nbART Team: Cara Jordan,Linda Gao,Arielle Friedman,Mollie Cashwell, Katie Denny,

Aiop: Tell us more about your group and how did it get started.
nbART: The North Brooklyn Public Art Coalition is an arts organization dedicated to collaborating with artists and community stakeholders in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick to produce, present and support public art.  We also do advocacy work on behalf of artists in these neighborhoods, and partner with community organizations to engage the public and encourage them to interact with the space that surrounds them.  nbART is a staff of volunteers who are passionate about working in the arts, and who are dedicated to fulfilling our mission and increasing awareness of our organization, and engagement within the community.

nbART started the way a lot of organizations do: out of a conversation.  Back in February 2009, then-Council Member David Yassky attended a Community Board meeting to talk about the lack of public art, and opportunities to create public art, in a neighborhood of artists; the North Brooklyn Public Art Coalition was created shortly thereafter.

We’ve produced three community-based visual arts projects to date:

·         In July 2009 (and still on view on India Street between West Street and the East River) our kick off project was the “India Street Mural Project,” which featured six site-specific murals created by six artists/collectives that reinvigorated a Greenpoint waterfront, unused industrial site.  That fall, we partnered with a Brooklyn-based film organization, Moviehouse, to produce a bi-weekly film series that was screened in between the murals.  

·         In December 2009 we worked with Open Space Alliance to produce the first public artwork ever presented in McCarren Park: Jason Krugman’s “Living Objects” – three large-scale, LED-lit sculptures taking on a human form.  
Jason Krugman’s “Living Objects”

·         In June 2010, nbART unveiled “Future Phenomena” by Amanda Browder, an 800 sq. ft. fabric sculpture that blanketed a building fa├žade in Greenpoint; the piece was created by the artist with the help of dozens of community members who donated fabric and participated in public sewing sessions we organized last spring.

“Future Phenomena” by Amanda Browder.
Aiop: What prompted the name change from nbpac to nbART?
nbART: We used the acronym “nbpac” for about a year before considering other ways to identify ourselves.  We wanted a creative, recognizable name and image that simply explained what we do without, well, needing to explain what we do.  While “nbpac” may be confused with a Political Action Committee or Performing Arts Center (and even sounds like NJPAC), “nbART” emphasizes the most important aspect of what we do: art in North Brooklyn.  The fact that the two names sound alike made the transition pretty smooth.

Aiop: North Brooklyn has had the reputation as a haven for artists. How is the public art scene in the area?
nbART: Whether it’s the proximity to the waterfront, the expense of presenting in a gallery, the lack of museums in the area, or simply the abundance of artists living here, artists are inspired to use our public spaces as their canvases.  And it’s no surprise to hear that there are a lot of artists living and working in North Brooklyn.  A decade or so ago, Williamsburg was the place to be to produce art; today, given the vast number of artist studios that have appeared in Bushwick, Bushwick is gaining recognition as the haven for artists.  And last month’s Greenpoint Open Studios – with over 150 participants – proved Greenpoint is not far behind.  And the public art scene reflects this saturation of artists – it is vibrant and everyone knows and talks about it.  The forms of public art vary from illegal graffiti to legal street art to publicly-funded projects in our parks and open spaces.  That last point is important: our local elected and City officials are very supportive of the arts, and that makes a difference in terms of an artist’s ability to present his/her work in the public realm.  The biggest challenge for artists is navigating that process, and our hope is that nbART can help them overcome that.

Aiop: For nbART's most recent project, why do an open call for a sound installation?
nbART: In Spring 2009 we launched an Open Call for our kick-off project, the India Street Mural Project, so this wasn’t our first time.  Although we don’t always begin projects with open calls, we like to use them as a tool that encourages partnerships and helps create early buzz about a project – even before it’s selected!  Since nbART was founded, we’ve worked with murals, lights, and fabric.  For our next installation, we knew that we wanted to work with sound, and that we wanted to put that idea of sound into the minds of local artists and see what exciting projects they could envision for our open spaces.  We invited Brooklyn-based artists to select a site in Greenpoint, Williamsburg or Bushwick and propose a sound installation there that 1. considers the historical, social, and political atmosphere of North Brooklyn’s community; and 2. engages the public as a critical project component.  We are very pleased with the results of that process.  An expert panel with representatives from organizations like Creative Time, UnionDocs and 601artspace selected a proposal by Brooklyn-based artist Nick Yulman.  Nick’s project begins with the collection of relevant oral histories from around the neighborhood, and then uses sounds and themes from those stories to create music and robotics out of locally scavenged materials.  The end result will be a series of installations on 4-5 construction fences in North Brooklyn that will create serendipitous encounters for passersby, and invite them to engage with the community’s past while standing at the sites of its developing future.
Brooklyn-based artist Nick Yulman

Aiop: It is nice to hear your group is creating a water station for out NYC marathoners this November. How did this come about? Will this become a tradition?
nbART: We’re not creating a water station for the NYC Marathon, but we are supporting a local group called the North Brooklyn Runners (NBR) by seeking volunteers to help them man their station.  nbART is a community-based organization and loves to partner with other community organizations, whether arts-focused or not.  In North Brooklyn especially, the creative sector crosses fields, from art to food and, in this case, to running.  What our two organizations have in common is the desire to connect people to their North Brooklyn community: both nbART and NBR are Steering Committee members of the Open Space Alliance and advise the organization on how the community interacts with its public parks and spaces.

Aiop: As a group about public art, tell us more about your recent collaboration with LMCC about laws governing temporary public art.
nbART: We love the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, support the work they do, and are honored that they chose to highlight our organization at their recent workshop, “Making Temporary Public Art & Performance: What Artists Need to Know.” We wanted to spread the word about the program to artists in our network, and felt it presented an excellent opportunity for artists to hear some of the challenges in creating public art and learn about ways around some of those obstacles.  LMCC has a wealth of experience and resources and we are hoping some of that knowledge reached Brooklyn artists. 

Aiop: What does the future hold for nbART?
nbART: Throughout this fall nbART is focusing on two main things: producing its upcoming sound installation with artist Nick Yulman, and developing our Board of Directors. In the immediate future, we will reach out to community members and begin to record their stories.  We are looking for owners of the neighborhood’s long-standing businesses; neighborhood characters; and residents who revel in neighborhood quirks and legends. We are also looking for sponsors and partners in bringing this project to the public this spring.  Anyone who has a story to tell, or who knows of someone with an interesting story should email me at

As a small organization that is fiscally sponsored by tax-exempt organizations, we are also looking to move into the next stage of organizational growth.  So we are currently seeking to develop our Board and become incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Aiop: Any last words for Art in Odd Places?
nbART: You all produce a great festival!  And as a fellow organization that focuses on the use of public space we are huge fans of AiOP’s mission and the work you do.  I also read your recent interview with David Koren and wanted to give a shout out to FIGMENT – those guys are amazing!!!

Thank you nbART and keep us posted with your future events!

To get  more information about nbART, visit or follow them via twitter (

Monday, October 25, 2010

David Koren for Figment Project 2010

The Art in Odd Places 2010 festival recently concluded. It was such a delight to see our artists infusing their works along the stretch of 14th Street. Please check our Facebook group and Flickr page to see pictures from the festival.

Although the festival just ended,  Art in Odd Places recognizes the need to acknowledge other festivals, especially in New York City, that share the credo in making art accessible. A few months ago, Governor's Island was transformed into a a great art space for "Figment NYC 2010". The vision of the festival is to "celebrate the  abundance of creativity and passion, challenging artists and our communities to find ways to create, share, and dream.". What is so interesting about this festival is the emphasis on participation, where people are encouraged to interact with the art works. It is literally bringing the arts closer to the intended recipient. It is through festival like Figment that bring the word "accessibility" to whole different level.

Art in Odd Places reached out to David Koren, Executive Producer and Founder for Figment to share his thoughts about  Figment and a few other questions, including his emphasis on participatory art
David Koren,Founder and Executive Producer at Figment

Aiop: This year's event was definitely a huge success. How was this year's Figment different from the previous ones?
DK: Well, after four years, it really does seem that we are part of the cultural landscape in New York City, and people know about Figment and what we stand for. This year's Figment event had nearly 25,000 participants, over 10,000 more than last year, who engaged with 400 art projects. And we estimate that our summer-long minigolf course, sculpture garden, and pavilion will be visited by approximately 75,000 people this summer. Aside from the growth in terms of number of participants and visitors, we also believe we are growing in terms of the overall quality of the projects we create, and the skill of the artists who bring work to Figment.

Aiop: What is the ultimate goal of Figment?
DK: In a word, participation. We want everyone to participate and to create a deep and engaging experience for everyone through participation and collaboration. We would like to see every single person who comes to Governors Island bringing something to share, some way to engage with others. We believe that participation creates community, brings us all closer together, and in this way is a vehicle for personal and social transformation.

Aiop: You mentioned the parallelism between Burning Man and Figment. Could you speak more about this?
DK: Figment is inspired and influenced by Burning Man, but is not linked to Burning Man in any official way. The founders of Figment view our event and projects as a way to share the principles that we have learned from Burning Man with a broader audience: Participation, Decommodification, Inclusion, Self-Expression, Self-Reliance, Giving, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leave No Trace, and Immediacy. The influence goes both ways… Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey has said that the 2010 Burning Man theme, "Metropolis," was inspired by his trip to New York and Figment in June 2009. We see Figment as an evolution of the principles of Burning Man brought out into the public realm.

Aiop: Figment's work is driven entirely by volunteers. How important is it to build not only a strong Figment community but also building relationship within the public art community?
DK: We're all about relationships, and building as broad a community around participatory public art and Governors Island as we can. We have built strong relationships with groups concerned with the arts, design, sustainability, Governors Island, our waterfronts, etc. We believe that public art is art that is created by and for the public, and we welcome partnerships with any organizations that share this view.

Aiop: It seems that Figment is really big on the idea of participatory art, the ability to interact with the work as oppose to merely seeing it. Tell us more about this.
DK: Participation is what we're all about. It's at the heart of what we do, and what sets us apart from other arts organizations. We resist the idea of the artist as a singular genius who is ordained by the cultural elite. We believe that we are all creative, that we all have the capacity to make art, and that if we work together we can create things that no one of us could have created in isolation. Every one of our projects involves participation or interaction in some way. Through this focus, we seek to bring the moment of creation as close as possible to the present moment. Think about most art you see in a museum or gallery: it likely was created by someone else, who you've never met, a long time ago in a faraway place. It couldn't be much further away from you and your experience. By focusing on collaboration and participation, we're bringing the moment of creation, the moment when the creator says, "Aha! I've got it!" as close as possible to the present time and place. Art isn't something that has to be created in isolation in a studio. Art can be the experience that we're creating together, right now.

Aiop: Anything you would like say to Art in Odd Places as its 6th annual festival just recently concluded
DK: Art in Odd Places does a great job creating a more democratic arts experience for the people of New York City. Keep up the great work! I think it's important to consider, as I know you guys do, just how engaging a work of art is… Is the art just about going somewhere and looking at it, or does it reach out and grab you, and get you to engage with it - and to collaborate with the artists in creating a shared experience? I think that's where the real frontiers lie in art today.

For more information about this exciting project, visit

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

AudioMole Launch Party @ Sullivan Hall

Art in Odd Places was invited to check out the launch of great website for underground music called "Audio Mole NYC". This is a user generated site allowing a different avenue for underground and indie music to thrive The website's launch party at Sullivan Hall featured 10 bands. Here at Art in Odd Places, we definitely approve anything that offers a different a way of exploring the spectacle of daily life.

The brains behind AudioMole- NYC: Hannah and Robbie

A creative give away at the event:

The launch event held a battle of the bands event:  First stop, she calls herself the "NYC Subway Girl"

The Band called "The Press" 


"The Ravages" performed

Feel free to visit to find out more about the website and find a new way of enjoying music.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

AiOP 2010 artist, Scott Kildall sharing his "After Thought"

Scott Kildall posted in his blog his recent Art in Odd Festival experience. To read more, click on the picture

Zach, Scott and Minha from "After Thought"

Stay tune for more post Art in Odd Places review

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Linda Hesh sharing her Art in Odd Places 2010 Experience

My “Chance Meeting Doorknob Hangers” are definitely causing various reactions on the street. I've been blessed, cursed, thanked and questioned.  I have spoken to kids at a Latino community center, Korean manicurists, an Italian tailor, a Middle Eastern barber – a full range of ages and backgrounds. These pieces of paper have inspired everything from “Praise Jesus!” to “You can't do that here!”   I love leaving these little bits of art along the street to for people to find whether I get an immediate reaction or leave it for the future.

Photo courtesy Linda Hesh

This project has had one unexpected result. I didn't really think about what would come of me looking so carefully at every single door as I accessed whether it could accommodate a doorknob hanger.  It's a feeling like I “own” this street. Every building has been examined and I “know” every place on the entire length of the street. I have a close connection, almost like it's my home. 

Photo courtesy Linda Hesh

Photo courtesy Linda Hesh    
Thanks Linda! More artists reflecting on their experience coming soon.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


This weekend at Art in Odd Places 2010: CHANCE 
Respond to a letter addressed To A Young Poet left behind by Sheryl Oring on each Avenue along 14th Street (Friday – Sunday, 10am), watch as the BroLab Collective manually transports water for 24 hours straight from the Hudson to the East River (from Friday, 3pm to Saturday, 3pm), locate Linda Hesh’s suggestive doorknob hangers scattered randomly along 14th Street (daily), try your luck with Maya Suess, the Lady of Luck herself, for one last time! (Saturday, 12-2pm) Get anything you wish notarized at Carrie Dashow’s Yesiree Notary Booth in Union Square (Saturday, 12-3pm), hustle and argue with Jessica Ann Peavy as she tries to convince you of her point of view (Sunday, 4-7pm), discover the sounds of the rivers that cap our city with the help of Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Thomas Dexter (Friday – Sunday, 12-1pm), become the subject of Simonetta Moro’s window drawing as she tracks pedestrian movement in a storefront (Saturday – Sunday, 12-4pm), experience historic sounds of the city at Pratt Manhattan culled by Christopher Dameron and Annika Newell from sound archives (daily), grab a publication of poetry based on directions given by cab drivers to Dannielle Tegeder (daily), walk on over and say hello when members of Flux Factory wave at you from across the street (daily), and witness a spectacle as Irvin Morazan tries to hail a taxi in his outrageous Mayan headdress and Cheez Doodle outfit (Friday, 5-6:30pm).

Views of Sheryl Oring's Letters to a Young Poet at various locations along 14th Street. See website for details  


City Souvenirs
Performance begins at the NE corner of 14th Street and Fourth Avenue (by the Food Emporium)
Friday, October 8 (11am – 3pm): Heading East; Saturday, October 9 (11am – 3pm): Heading West; Sunday, October 10 (11am – 3pm): Heading West

Dressed in “official” uniforms, the duo will walk along 14th St with a cart that holds blocks of wet clay. This clay will be used to make direct impressions of often-unnoticed details of the spaces they traverse in their walk. The public is invited to participate in the creation of objects that will serve as a record of a specific moment in time of New York City’s history.



A talk by Marc and Sara Schiller

Friday, October 8 (7 – 9pm): Pratt Manhattan auditorium, 144 W 14th St, 2nd Fl.
With Street Art works often only lasting minutes, viewing them digitally has been one main way to understand the movement. Using hundreds of examples of site specific, global work, the Wooster Collective will take you through what makes Street Art so compelling, why the artists are motivated to make illegal art, and how the movement has transformed over the past decade.


TXTual Healing
Friday, October 8 (8 – 10pm): 52 E 14th Street at Broadway (former Virgin Megastore)

TXTual Healing is an interactive public projection that encourages community building and idea sharing through performance. Notzold invites passersby to respond to a predetermined subject via text messaging, and screens the resulting dialogue onto urban structures.  In so doing, he creates an experience of happenstance and curiosity for bystanders and participants alike.

Video screening curated by Marco Antonini

Saturday, October 9 (7 – 9pm): Pratt Manhattan auditorium, 144 W 14th Street
Featuring: Ivan Argote, Tobias Collier, Simon Faithfull, Wojciech Gilewicz, Leopold Kessler, Jules Marquis, Chris Moukarbel, Valerio Rocco Orlando, Colin Snapp, and Virginie Yassef.

Spotting Signs of Progress - Green Map Icons, Sustainability and YOU!

Saturday, October 10 (1-4pm): 14th Street Y, 344 E 14th St, lobby

Join Green Map System, a non-profit organization that empowers international communities worldwide to chart their progress toward an environmentally sustainable future, at the 14th Street Y on 10/10/10 to share findings from their ten-day scavenger hunt along 14th Street. Then, help design new Green Map Icons as part of the Global Work Party for Climate Solutions.
Please note: All Elastic City walks are FULL. Please check to sign up for future walks.
All events FREE and open to the public. In case of rain, please refer to the website for schedule changes: