OUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO THE BOROUGH OF KINGS
COURIER LIFE, OCTOBER 22-28, 2021 25
BY KIRSTYN BRENDLEN
Gowanus Open Studios returned
for its 25th year on Oct. 16 and 17, inviting
Brooklyn’s art-loving public
into galleries and studios for a weekend
of browsing, shopping, and performances
hosted by Arts Gowanus.
More than 400 artists showed
their work in over 100 locations from
Boerum Hill to South Slope in the
midst of a particularly diffi cult year
for local creatives. Catastrophic fl ooding
from Hurricane Ida destroyed artwork
and endangered livelihoods for
artists at 540 President St., the home
of Arts Gowanus, and the pandemic
cancelled art shows and shuttered
studios, slowing down creation and
Last year, in the midst of the pandemic,
Open Studios became ArtWalk
on Atlantic, a socially-distanced exhibition
making use of storefronts from
Brooklyn Heights to Gowanus.
The organization didn’t decide they
were going to move forward with Open
Studios this year until June, about six
weeks after they would usually start
planning, said the group’s executive
director, Johnny Thornton.
“We had a couple of backup plans,”
Thornton said. “This was a very diffi -
cult decision, but ultimately I’m glad
that we made it, because I think that it
can be done safely.”
Ceramicist Kasia Zurek-Doule, who
has been working out of a local studio
for more than a decade, has been
participating in Open Studios for fi ve
years, joining up with a group of other
ceramicists to show their work together.
She’s already been able to return to
in-person shows, taking part in an exhibition
at Brooklyn Waterfront Artists
Coalition, and she says having
people see her sculptures — in all their
three-dimensional, textured glory —
has been particularly satisfying.
Aside from the tactile benefi ts of an
in-person show, the return of Open Studios
also marked the return of a longseparated
community of local artists.
“Some people go to church, some
people go to yoga,” Zurek-Doule said.
“Going to the studio is something that
is incredibly healing and important to
me, and like, I didn’t have that, didn’t
have the community.”
For the fi rst time in the event’s history,
Arts Gowanus carved out a space
at 540 President for more than 70 artists
who were displaced from their studios
“Keeping the community strong
and vibrant and making sure everyone
has a place has always been one
of my top priorities,” Thornton said.
“Early on in discussions, was, how can
we help people who don’t have a place
to show, who have participated in the
Liza Domingues is one of those artists.
A longtime painter, and, more
recently, a sculptor, Domingues had
been renting a studio at the now-defunct
SpaceWorks, in the same building
as Arts Gowanus. It’s where she
met Thornton and dozens of other artists.
While she was able to hold on to her
studio through the turmoil of Space-
Works closing, Domingues and her
husband, like everyone else, were still
spending most of their time at home,
and realized they needed to move out of
their small apartment into something
with more space. With more space
comes higher rent, and Domingues
gave up her studio to bridge the gap.
All Zurek-Doule wanted ahead of
the event was for the community to
come support their local artisans.
“We want them, we need them,” she
said. “We want to talk about our art,
we want people to show up. It would be
really, really great if people supported
their local artist economy a little more,
and their local institutions.”
An online directory is still open for
those who missed out on the Open Studios
event, or for anyone still thinking
about a particular piece of work.
for its 25th year
UP CLOSE WITH ART: Liza Domingues is one of more than 70 artists who were displaced
from their studio last year. All are welcomed at Gowanus Open Studios, where Arts Gowanus
found space for all of them to exhibit their work. Photo courtesy of Liza Domingues