Greenpoint Gazette
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Arts in Bushwick: Bigger, Broader and as Inclusive as Ever

BY Willow Goldstein

Making History, a survey show of the artistic oeuvre and creative output that Bushwick has fostered over the past decade, is set to open on April 19. The open-call exhibition will preview the work available for raffle during the annual Arts in Bushwick Benefit taking place on May 10.

Arts in Bushwick (AiB) is an all-volunteer organization that provides a platform for creative minds in the community, working towards an integrated and sustainable neighborhood through arts programming, creative accessibility, and community organizing. The AiB Benefit is the lead affair gearing up for Bushwick Open Studios (BOS), one of the largest open studio festivals in the country. BOS 2015 will take place June 5-7 and the weekend is bound to feature more than 600 artist studios, countless group shows, gallery exhibitions, block parties, and more.

Following the huge success of last year’s event, the eighth iteration of the AiB Benefit has undergone a structural revamp. Rather than being a one-night affair, Making History is taking the form of a show, on view for three weeks, culminating in the traditional raffle of artworks for ticket-holders. According to lead organizer Cibele Vieira, “it is an experimental, inclusive open-call exhibition surveying the full spectrum of the Bushwick art scene.”

Commencing the year after the first open studios event, the Benefit has matured alongside the festival. Originally homed at the now-defunct Lumen House, the Benefit then took place for several years at Grace Exhibition Space before relocating to Storefront Ten Eyck. The venue, run by a long-time Bushwick artist and gallerist Deborah Brown, is a multi-room gallery space located in the heart of industrial East Williamsburg. Organized by a team of 11 artists, this year’s Benefit is set to be the biggest yet in terms of scope and number of artist submissions.

Inviting submissions from past and current Bushwick artists as well as artists who have recently participated in a group or solo show in a Bushwick gallery, Making History will accept the first 400 entries. Curators Krista Saunders, of Ground Floor Gallery, and Dexter Wimberly, of Independent Curators International, have been brought on board up to create a visual narrative of the inevitably diverse collection of works. While the open call is yet to close, submissions have already been received by Loren Munk, Tamara Gonzales, Lori Ellison, Dan Zeller, Lisa Corinne Davis, Ward Shelley, Don Voisine, Meryl Meisler, William Powhida, Rich Timperio, Rob de Oude, Lisa Levy, Meg Hitchcock, and Enrico Gomez, among many others.

In addition to supporting year-round AiB programming, Making History is the first step in preparation of a commemorative book, in which each artist who donates work to the exhibition will be featured. The book will be published in 2016 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the organization and festival. A limited edition of prints by photographer Meryl Meisler and artist Rico Gatson will be available for sale as well. Meisler’s book, A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick, was published in conjunction with last year’s Bushwick Open Studios.

Along with restructuring the Benefit, AiB also relaunched its website, aiming to provide a year-round platform for community exchange by offering services such as a classifieds section for artists looking for space, materials, or collaboration. This is in line with the organizations goal of redirecting attention on the individual artists and taking some of the focus away from large-scale events. Paring down the roster from last year, the official BOS events for 2015 are to include a Launch Party in conjunction with the annual Seeking Space show, Community Day, an outdoor celebration of neighborhood organizations and artists, Cinema Sunday, a film and video screening, and a Closing Party.


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