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Brooklyn Artists Land on the Map With 'GO Brooklyn' Event

By Sonja Sharp | September 5, 2012 2:04pm

CROWN HEIGHTS — Finding an up-and-coming artist in Williamsburg is kind of like spotting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland — but finding one in Midwood? For that, you'll want a map

When organizers at the Brooklyn Museum began working on boroughwide open studios, they were banking on a strong response from northeastern neighborhoods like Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which have long been enclaves to art.

What they weren't expecting were the hundreds of artists from Midwood, Bay Ridge and Crown Heights who will be among more than 1,800 to throw open their workspaces this weekend for the Museum's open studio project GO.  

"People look at the map, and they're just surprised," said Shelley Bernstein, the museum's chief of technology and one of the project's organizers. "It's going to expose things in neighborhoods that people were just not aware of."

"It's building a community of artists," said Christina Graf, whose Crown Heights studio will be among those welcoming visitors during the weekend-long event. "I think GO is putting a spark under everybody and waking everybody up." 

Graf's life-size paper gowns have hung in Berlin art shows and Bed-Stuy restaurants, but the longtime Brooklyn resident said she'd struggled to meet other artists working locally. 

"I feel like more of an art community is growing," Graf said. "I've been getting emails about meetups, just seeing who else is around." 

Bernstein said she was delighted to see artists in under-the-radar enclaves organizing around the event. 

"The Sunset Park artists and the Bay Ridge artists have gotten together and formed their own associations," she said. "That's something that came out of this project that we were not expecting."

For Crown Heights artist Daniela Kostova, meeting like minds was never the problem — her industrial complex on Atlantic Avenue is swarming with them. Still, she sees the open studio as an opportunity to steal a look at what her neighbors have been up to. 

"My next piece is inspired by this community," the Bulgarian-born artist said of her cohort in eastern Crown Heights, many of whom will show during this weekend's event.

"To me it's really unique — it's very different from any other neighborhood." 

Visitors to her studio can see not only her tribute to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, but experience her work in the space where she lives.

"Someone just walks in and has good experience, they discover something new about their neighborhood, and that’s what we see as a success," Bernstein said.

"It's about the personal exchanges that are going to take place this weekend."