The arts of Bushwick have been defined by their self-creation: a remarkable flowering nurtured by a network of self-made institutions, from apartment galleries to non-profit collaborations. Just as in Montparnasse a century ago, no one style has dominated Bushwick’s artistic scene. Instead a spirit of collaboration and DIY experimentation has defined it.
As a critic, I have been followed the neighborhood's developments with great interest. I've found much to see and much to write about. Yet just as with other historical arts neighborhoods, from Montmartre to Tenth Street, I am also aware that Bushwick will one day cease to be a place of artistic relevance—not necessarily as artists are pushed out, but as non-artists push in.
History is often lost in such transitions, which is why the Bushwick community now rightly regards documentation as among its important, lasting self-creations. I am therefore delighted to join Meryl Meisler, the original Bushwick photographer, in creating the Bushwick Documentation Project. I therefore invite all Bushwick artists, gallerists, journalists, and organizers to come see us for a group photograph on June 4.
Who: All BOS16 artists, Gallerists, Journalists, and Organizers
What: Group portrait by Meryl Meisler
When: Saturday, June 4th 11 AM sharp (*rain date: Sunday June 5, 11 AM)
Where: outside Stout Projects, 55 Meadow Street, (Bet. Bogart & Morgan)
How: Come as you are.
Why: Because we are our own art history.
Meryl Meisler writes:
When I was a public school teacher in Bushwick during the 1980s & early 90s, on the surface the art scene seemed limited to the graffiti and wall murals dedicated to lives lost too soon. Inside classrooms of art teachers like myself the arts were flourishing. Several Bushwick art teachers and I formed "Artists Teachers Concerned," dedicated to exhibiting the socially motivated artwork by our students.
I thought, back then, that Bushwick had beautiful light- and I carried my camera with me daily to capture the light, the struggles and joys of life I witnessed. It did surprise me that those snapshots are now appreciated as both art and history. It didn't surprise me decades later; the same open spaces light would attract artists. The huge numbers of artists who have come make Bushwick their home and/or studio is amazing.
I have never lived nor had a studio in Bushwick; I taught there from 1981 - 1994. The streets and public places are my studio. I am very grateful to be accepted as part of the extended Bushwick arts community and have participated in Bushwick Open Studios steadily since 2012; positively changing my life and career.
It is my honor to be invited to collaborate with James Panero to document the movers, shakers, and mutually supportive creative community that yearns for Bushwick to remain affordable and accessible to long time residents and newcomers alike.
ROBIN STOUT, Director, Stout Projects:
The vibrant art scene and the strong sense of community in Bushwick are the reasons I wanted to open a gallery here. I’m excited to see it captured forever through this documentation project.
PAUL BEHNKE, Associate Director, Stout Projects:
Being an artist in this city is more than the next work. It's a connection with a past, a history and a lineage. This project sets us all in stone and places the artists in Bushwick forever alongside those of the East Village, SoHo and the New York School. It is important that our efforts hold a place.