The Brooklyn Greenway Initiative has transformed its plain-Jane office into a vessel for art.
In January, the BGI moved a few doors south to a larger, brighter quarters at 153 Columbia St., providing more space as well as a storefront. With the extra space and lofty ceilings, the co-founders of BGI came up with the idea to turn its empty storefront into a rotating gallery for local artists.
“We wanted to capitalize on that visibility, and to activate the storefront,” said Brian McCormick, co-founder and director of BGI. “We’re afforded the opportunity to have new supporters come into our fold who are driven to park space and the greenway.”
Every three months, the BGI will showcase the works of a local artist who lives or works along the 14-mile stretch of greenway, from Greenpoint to Sunset Park. To open the series, the gallery features ceramic works by Cobble Hill resident Kathryn Robinson-Millen.
Millen uses the sunny storefront to display nearly 50 pieces of pottery and clay sculptures, which will be on display through June 25.
At first glance, Millen’s clay pieces resemble objects that appear to be made of stone, wood, or seashell, but they are all indeed made of either clay or porcelain, said the artist. The pieces are made up of abstract shapes and earthy tones and work well as sculptures or vessels, Robinson-Millen said.
Millen says she gets her inspiration from objects she finds along the Valentino Pier in Red Hook. Whether it’s a shell or a scrap of wood, Millen is drawn by the unique textures and designs of natural objects. She emulates the patterns or shapes found in these items to create a unique look.
“People have been excited and genuinely — almost in awe of the work,” said Millen. “My pieces are more abstract, but the ideas come from somewhere.”
The next artist in line for the series is local landscape photographer Tom Rupolo, who will be doing a book signing for his new book, titled Images of Red Hook, Brooklyn, on June 28. His book, slated to be published in June, focuses on urban landscapes in Red Hook and Columbia Street.
All pieces on display at the gallery are on sale, and artists donate 30 percent of all proceeds to BGI. Robinson-Millen's works at the gallery range in price from $50 to $400.
Anyone who purchases a piece of artwork will also receive a complimentary one-year membership at BGI. Members receive exclusive information about all public programs and how to participate with the planning of the greenway.