Affordable Art and Children's Workshops Head to Bergen Street

By Nikhita Venugopal on January 31, 2013 8:44am | Updated on January 31, 2013 9:52am

COBBLE HILL — On Bergen Street, there will soon be a bit of culture for everyone.

Two creative centers are opening their first Brooklyn locations this spring at 47 Bergen St., a converted factory building that already houses the Invisible Dog Art Center, an exhibition space and gallery.

Recession Art is a gallery for rising artists and aspiring collectors. Started in 2009, just after the recession hit, the gallery has showcased paintings, prints, photographs, artist books, and small sculptures. 

The thing that binds the diverse works together, said executive director Emma Katz, is that it’s “all from emerging artists” early in their careers.

The gallery, opening on March 9, will be moving from its original Lower East Side location to Bergen Street.

They also hope to provide buyers with an affordable alternative to the traditional art market. “We’re mostly focused on art that someone can take home immediately and hang in their house,” said Katz, a self-professed art-lover, who was formerly involved in the theater industry.

Most pieces in the gallery are priced under $1,000 and the upper limit for any work of art is $5,000.

The gallery will include a combination of monthly exhibitions and a constant display of artwork “that ranges from $5 to $500,” Katz said.

Housed in the same building, the Beam Center is a non-profit learning and youth development organization that conducts workshops for second grade to high school students in applied arts, architecture, building, design, engineering, among others.

The Beam Center has been using the basement of the Invisible Dog gallery since April 2012, but for the last few weeks, they’ve moved to a larger, open space to give their budding young artists more room.

The center will conduct two after-school programs at the Bergen Street location. The “Inventgenuity” workshop is for second- to ninth- graders where student work with instructors on projects in sculpture, engineering, fine arts, or even electronics. Beam Center even offers pick-up from certain schools in Brooklyn.

Since 2005, Allen Riley has taught a variety of classes, from mechanical workshops to filmmaking, at the Beam Center’s New Hampshire location. He recently conducted a “laptop pare down” project where sixth-graders dismantle laptops and put them back together in working condition. He’s even let students take apart his own bicycle.

Tasks like these, said Riley, help students to understand the tactile experience. “It’s a good foundation for building confidence and a feeling of expertise in any medium,” he said.

For high school students, the center will offer BeamWorks, a scholarship program where students can collaborate with experts in design, craft, and engineering on large-scale projects. The program is set to begin in the spring of this year.

Beam Center Co-Founder Brian Cohen says the objective of this program is “to prepare teenagers for working and collaborating with people.”

In the past, students learned about welding, carpentry, and masonry by collaborating with practitioners in these fields, said Cohen.

The Beam Center partners with schools for the “Inventgenuity” program where low-income students can qualify for scholarships through their schools, said Cohen. “Inventgenuity” costs $240 for a four-week session. The cost reduces if the student signs up for more sessions ($180 per four weeks for three sessions.)

Recession Art will open on March 9. The hours will be Wednesday to Saturday (1 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.).

Beam Center is holds “Inventgenuity” workshops from Monday to Thursday (4 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.) The center remains open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The BeamWorks program will begin in Spring 2013.

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