Bushwick isn’t particularly known for being scenic. But that’s slowly changing, with the influx of artists moving into the area over the past few years. Among those beautifying this largely industrial neighborhood is Ali Ha, who runs the Factory Fresh art gallery on Flushing Avenue, just off the Morgan L stop.
Factory Fresh was started by Ha and her partner, Ad Deville, in 2008. The gallery portion features mid-level artists from around the world, ranging from the surreal art of German artist Jim Avignon to the cartoon drawings of Polish illustrator Roman Klonek.
For its first three years, Factory Fresh held shows left and right, keeping long hours for visitors. “I think we were really fast and furious for a while,” said Ha. “It’s been great to reevaluate where we are going so we can continue to evolve. It’s important to me that our artists evolve.”
The commercial gallery now holds fewer shows, allowing Ha and Deville, artists themselves, to concentrate on their own work. It has also given them time to start Bushwick Art Park, a public art project that aims to make Factory Fresh and art in general more accessible to their neighborhood. “It’s a very diversified community that wouldn’t come into our gallery but they are interested,” said Ha. “The idea spun from there- How can you bring your art out to them so that it’s not intrusive and anyone can enjoy the art in the community?”
Bushwick Art Park lies next to the gallery. Right now, it’s a side of a building in an alley that’s painted with murals almost every month, but Ha said they have plans for expansion. Although the alley is used for dumping, Factory Fresh cleans it up, and then brightens it with street art pieces. Their five to 10 year goal is to turn this space into a sculpture and seasonally changing art park. So far, they’ve met with city planners, and are currently lobbying to get the park up and running. “If it’s costing the city money to clean it up, why not use that money to do something with a greater effect?” said Ha.
Deville, who is mainly a street artist with his brother, Droo (the two make up the group Skewville), said the goal of the park is to bring art to the people at no cost, keeping it within reach for the community. “The problem with the neighborhood is mostly everything that comes in there is super swanky, high end $20 Martini spots. Even though the neighborhood is gentrified, the art isn’t high end. The Art Park is for the people. The point is not to commodify art. It’s about bringing it to the neighborhood without overpricing it.”
Despite the slowing down of Factory Fresh, Ha said she still runs it not only for the Art Park, but to help out artists. “I enjoy doing it because I like talking to collectors and making things happen for people. It’s great to be a connector.”
Ha is also still enthusiastic about all the possible opportunities that lie ahead. “Going with the flow is the best way to be and I’ve been waiting to see what will happen,” she said. “You never know. I have this space permanently and I’d really like to do more with it, so who knows. I always like to be here doing something with the space.”
1053 Flushing Avenue