Brooklyn Art a go-go

Tornados and trips to Ikea aside, last weekend saw us enjoying a surfeit of art. The Go Brooklyn Art project involved hundreds of artists around the borough opening their studios to the public, and we set out to visit as many as we could fit in.

Collage of artists' cards from Go Brooklyn Art weekend 2012

We knew that Brooklyn was reputed to be an arty sort of place, but the number of artists listed was just staggering – a grand total of 1708 had signed up to take part. Some of these were based in studios and art colleges, but some opened up their home spaces for the weekend.

To make things even more interesting each artist had a unique number, and visitors were asked to use these to check in to the Go Brooklyn website and then nominate their favourites for potential inclusion in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum later this year.

We managed to check-in to a total of 27 studios across the two days, although I feel we slightly cheated on Sunday as we went to Screwball Spaces, a floor in a storage warehouse which is home to over 80 artists. That said, were were hoping to achieve a similar result on Saturday by visiting the art and architecture school at the Pratt Institute, but a combination of inadequate signage and poor navigation meant that we spent most of our time there enjoying the campus itself (no bad thing on a sunny afternoon, as its lovely-looking red brick buildings are surrounded by trees, grass and fantastic sculptures by college alumni).

Some of the more unusual works we saw included ukuleles made out of discarded tins and boxes; graffiti-style wall hangings made with fabric; old typewriters embedded in resin cubes; bird/aeroplane hybrid sculptures; and portraits made up of QR codes which link to websites about the subject.

Apart from the QR code portraits, I’m a little sad to admit that our other top-3 choices went to abstract and colourful works on canvas – we’re clearly flat rectangular kind of people!

As well as getting to see a huge variety of different types of art, and spend time chatting to the artists about their work, it was fascinating to see inside all their studios. Some were bright and airy, others dark and cluttered, and I’m sure that had an impact on the impression we took away.

I was also interested by the ways in which the displays were laid out – some of the artists had clearly thought hard about how they would present their work to visitors, but even the most take-it-as-you-find it amongst them must surely have considered what curatorial approach to adopt (if only then to eschew any notion of coherence). Some were keen to engage in conversation as soon as we walked through the door, whilst others waited to be approached (and at the opposite end of the spectrum one or two seemed to regard us as intruders).

Overall the whole experience was great fun – we’ll definitely go again if they re-run it in the future, and I’m looking forward to the exhibition of the winners too.

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