Inside the 1,500 square foot space at 155 Freeman Street reside three non-profits dedicated to art, education, and innovation: Light Industry, Triple Canopy, and The Public School. Although the groups have been in the building for less than a month, they are already starting to generate a buzz among neighborhood creatives.
Light Industry is devoted to electronic art and film, while online magazine Triple Canopy, features multimedia and alternative literary pieces. The Public School promotes an open forum for learning, where users log onto their site, propose a class, and generate interest for their subject. When there is enough interest, the school then finds a teacher, and the class is offered for free. Thomas Beard, who runs Light Industry with Ed Halter, said, “The community has been very supportive. At the same time, I think there is an audience for what we all do that is coming from across the city to Greenpoint.”
The three organizations started off on Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn, putting out almost 100 shows in 2010. At the end of 2011, they regrouped, signed a five-year lease at 155 Freeman, and began raising money. They used Kickstarter, a website for fundraising creative projects, to raise $35,465, which vastly exceeded their $20,000 goal. To stay afloat, they receive grants from city and state art councils, the Andy Warhol Foundation, and from public support.
For their opening event, the groups held a reading of Gertrude Stein’s “The Making of Americans,” a 926-page novel, during which 2,000 attendees spent 50 hours reading the story aloud. Performances at the Livingston space were just as experimental. They included Videofreex, a New York video group that put out America’s first pirate TV station, a class on improvised music presented by Disorganizing Sound, and the work of Matt Mullican, who created a navigable, scale-model of the solar system.
At the end of January, the Public School started a class called “Who Owns Greenpoint: Observe, Diagram, Intervene,” in which students walked around the neighborhood learning about the local guidelines of ownership. One of their most popular classes, “On Time,” explored theories about time and how it’s measured. While some classes only gain the interest of one person—the creator—others have garnered the attention of more than 100 students.
Peter Russo of Triple Canopy said that all three organizations are happy with their new headquarters at 155 Freeman Street. Triple Canopy, Light Industry, and the Public School will continue to focus their programming on the arts communities in Greenpoint and New York City as a whole. “Livingston was great, but we were at a crossroads,” he said. “Here, it’s a much more residential area and I think people are excited to have a venue in the neighborhood. We’re excited to be here as well. There aren’t many other nonprofits or commercial gallery spaces in Greenpoint so we’re excited to be here and contribute.”