New York City. What an extraordinary city for art lovers. Art is everywhere, from museums to galleries, in the streets, subways and parks. It's a heady mix.
We're staying in the Williamsburg area, a neighborhood alive with art vibes. Everywhere I walk the walls are blanketed with paintings and pasted works. We are lucky to be here for an important weekend, Bushwick Studio Days, where hundreds of artists open their studios and gallery spaces to the public over two days. Located in an old industrial area, there are many inexpensive studios, spacious and open with lots of natural light from large windows, my dream studios. Hundreds of people wander the streets, music and conversation bubble over. Market vendors sell their wares. Some galleries are even created inside rented U-Haul trucks. It's a supersized art party, creating a connected, vibrant community enclave in the middle of this mega-city.
In our coursework we've been studying about the importance of artists connecting with each other, talking about art, sharing ideas and resources. When we looked at the developments in art movements over the years we saw that having these communities is vital to moving conversations about art forward.
Equally wonderful to this weekend experience, for me, was a visit we paid to an artist's gallery and studio. We met with artist Maya Suess, visiting her gallery show and studio space in the Gowanus neighbourhood of Brooklyn, another area where artists have converted industrial spaces into newly purposed work areas. Maya trained at Simon Fraser University and then moved to New York where she has family. Since 2008 she's been part of the Gowanus Studio Space artists' collective of about fifty people. They've converted a large industrial space into studios to accommodate practices ranging from pastel drawing to jewelry making, to printmaking, woodwork and digital media. For a base fee of $160 per month artists have 24 hour access to work space. Additional fees are levied depending on the size and kind of space used. The whole operation is managed by a committee from the collective. In addition to constructing studio spaces to different dimensions inside the warehouse they've also set up substantial printmaking and woodwork shops. It was truly inspiring to see the scope of what they've accomplished together.
Living in north Surrey I often think about how we can create a vibrant community to support each other in our practices as we take our work outside the university setting. These two experiences illustrated for me outstanding models of how to create spaces to support and enhance our work. It was a wonderful learning.
By: Jude Campbell, winner of the BCSA Stories from Abroad Scholarship