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Bushwick Galleries Represent at Armory Week

By Meredith Hoffman | March 6, 2012 9:59am | Updated on March 6, 2012 1:00pm

BROOKLYN — More than 20 Bushwick galleries have joined Williamsburg's annual Brooklyn Armory Night, a free art fair celebrating its 10th year this Saturday evening.

Many of the curators made an 11th-hour decision to join the Brooklyn festival, part of the city's Armory Week highlighting exhibits from Chelsea to the Bronx.

"We just decided," William Helfrecht, a gallery assistant at Luhring Augustine, said Friday.

Luhring Augustine, a renowned Chelsea gallery that just opened in Bushwick February 15, will feature its Charles Atlas exhibit in the afterhours.

Daniel Aycock, founder of the art guide WAGMAG, which has helped organize galleries for the event, said he just received word last week of the influx of Bushwick curators.

"It is great to have the Bushwick galleries involved," said Aycock, who noted that their participation will double the number of Brooklyn showrooms open.

"The neighborhoods in North Brooklyn — Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick — are showing the most innovative art today, and in fact much of the art seen at the art fairs in Manhattan this week comes from Brooklyn," said Aycock, owner of Williamsburg's Front Room Gallery.

Bushwick, in part due to its creative budding scene, is joining Armory Week — the Manhattan-based extravaganza known for drawing connoisseurs and buyers from around the world — for the first time.

Deborah Brown, owner of the gallery Storefront Bushwick and a local community board member, said Bushwick's participation makes sense, considering the explosion around the of new galleries and buzz among owners around the Morgan Avenue subway station.

"We're opening our doors and hoping our audience will come," Brown said. "Maybe it'll draw Manhattanites who feel they need a more organized event to come to Bushwick... maybe international viewers who are here for the Armory Weekend."

Other participants include Bushwick's several-month-old exhibit spaces on 56 Bogart Street, and its more seasoned players NurtureArt and Camel Art Space, both of which are still just a few years old.

Aycock said he hopes art lovers can make both shows.

"It's going to be hard for people to make both locations," Aycock admitted, "but they're both on the L train."

At the behest of the organizers, the MTA delayed L line repairs for the upcoming, choosing instead to work on the stations last weekend.

Meanwhile, Peter Hopkins of 56 Bogart's Bogart Salon believes it has become a nexus for Bushwick's emerging art scene. Ten new showrooms have opened there in the past several months.

"56 is important to be made into that 'hub,'" he wrote in an email, and called 56 Bogart a "central organizing node" for the art scene.

This year's event also incorporates video installations on the street, inside show rooms, and even in bars.

"We wanted to add more than just the galleries being open late, and we realize a lot of commercial venues have projector screens up," said Aycock.

In one outdoor display artist Christine Sciulli will project, from her flatbed truck, "roving planes of light" in "an organized cacophony" at Ascenzi Square, a triangular plaza between Roebling, Metropolitan and North 4th Streets, the Armory Night's website explains.

At the Front Room Gallery, live footage of passersby and projections of light and color will create an interactive video. And Causey Contemporary Gallery will screen an intimate portrait of a woman's life on its front glass windows, according to the website.

Still, for longtime participant Marisa Sage of Like the Spice Gallery, this year's Armory Weekend is a chance to question the idea of such organized arts events. Though her space is participating, she has labeled its exhibit "Arts Not Fair" to toy with the concept of art fairs and their reliance on buyers.

Sage's exhibit will include so-called VIP rooms, three temporary rooms to mimic different social classes in the art world. One room will be "V" for "very important people"; another will be "I" for "important people"; and the third will be "P" for regular "people."

No one who enters the exhibit can know which rooms they will be allowed to enter — unless they buy a special VIP bag.

"It's because art is not fair — art is anything but fair," Sage, whose exhibit will also include a decomposing banana sculpture by artist Matt Stone, added.