Greenpoint Gazette

Amid Rising Costs and Competition; Front Room Thrives, Celebrates 15 years

BY Tanay Warerkar

By now, most everyone is aware of North Brooklyn’s flourishing arts scene. But it was a very different story when Roebling Street’s Front Room Gallery, one of Williamsburg’s first art galleries, opened its doors 15 years ago, this month.

To kick-off its month-long anniversary celebration, on October 11, the gallery hosted an outdoor art festival on Hope Street, featuring the works of local artists.

The five-hour long festivities included musical performances; a ritual performance conducted by Meghan LeBoroius that involved scooping a pile of salt and chandelier crystals from a sidewalk into a bucket with a small hole and walking around the sidewalk until the salt ran out, only to commence the process again; and a collaborative multimedia performance inspired by dueling Japanese monsters and robots created out of cardboard and recycled materials, commenting on the war on terror and police brutality.

“I guess just one of the greatest achievements of the Gallery of the last 15 years is the fact that it is still around,” said Daniel Aycock, the founder of the Gallery. “In the last five years alone rents have gotten higher, which makes it hard, but when we started, the galleries stood out because there was nothing else around. Now you don’t notice them as much because of the hundreds of restaurants that have opened up in the neighborhood.”

The anniversary celebration also allows the Gallery to pay tribute to the artists who have showcased their work over the past 15 years, such as photographers Amanda Alic, Sean Hemmerle, and Edie Winograde, as well as the current crop of artists whose work is featured at the Gallery.

Aycock opened the Gallery in 1999 to showcase and promote the work of emerging and mid-career artists in the fields of photography, video, audio, conceptual art, and installations. At the time, he remembered, the area around the space was only comprised of one supermarket and three restaurants and artists submitted their work in the form of slides. Since its establishment the gallery has played host to 117 exhibitions.

Aycock also attributes the Gallery’s continued success to the unity of the artistic community in North Brooklyn. The Williamsburg Gallery Association, of which Aycock served as President, and WAGMAG, the monthly arts guide he launched, have helped bring that community closer.

And while gentrification may have increased rents for struggling and emerging artists, Aycock said it also opened the work to a much larger and diverse audience, and brought in artists from countries like Japan and England.

Front Celebrates its Anniversary from October 10 through November 2. The gallery is open Fri-Sun, 1-6 p.m., 147 Roebling Street, 718-782-2556, for more information visit http://www.frontroom.org/current.htm.

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