Greenpoint Gazette
Peter Buchman

An Open House for Artists

BY McCarton Ackerman

Following Williamsburg’s emergence as one of the premiere arts communities in the country, a major fine arts building in Greenpoint shows that this neighborhood is on its way to a similar stature.

The Morgan Fine Arts Building, located at 649 Morgan Avenue, held their bi-annual open house last Saturday evening. Over 40 artists across five floors showcased their work in a variety of mediums ranging from painting and sculpture, to fashion design and jewelry.

“We get our artists almost entirely by word of mouth,” said Peter Buchman, owner of the Morgan Fine Arts Building. “In addition to artists from Manhattan, we also have people from Spain and Japan who work on their art here as well.”

Before the Morgan Building became a fine arts studio, it was a pillow factory run by Buchman’s grandfather. In 2000, he began converting the building into studios for artists to rent.

Ten years later, the building now has 100 spaces for artists, ranging from $270 to $2,500 per month, and will add another 40 later this year. The artists ran the spaces themselves in the initial year, but Buchman thought he could be of service and stepped in to help afterwards.

“It’s been a success from the beginning,” said Buchman. “We’ve tried to provide a service that’s middle range in costs, while also being tenant friendly and highly secure.”

The open house itself was an eclectic mix of exhibitions. Some rooms featured loud music and vibrant artwork, while others resembled a more traditional art exhibit, with cheese and wine platters and a more demure feel.

Arthur May, a Manhattan based oil painter who displayed his work at the open house, says that many artists in the building commute to Brooklyn because of the inexpensive price for the spaces.

“I have a pretty vast studio here for $1,800, and when I was looking at similar spaces in the Manhattan area, the prices started at double that amount,” said May.

Buchman says that the additional 40 spaces available this fall will be announced two to three months in advance, and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“The spaces go pretty quickly because it truly is a community here,” said Buchman. “The steel windows in the building were designed by an architect who has a studio here, and I’ve also used a cabinet maker and graphic designer who work here. The people who come here care a great deal about the space.”

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