GOWANUS — A record number of artists will throw open their studio doors and give the public an intimate glimpse of painters, sculptors, printmakers and other creative types in their natural habitats this weekend during Gowanus Open Studios.
The annual self-guided studio tour has mushroomed since it started 16 years ago with about eight to 10 artists, said incoming director Abby Subak. This year 150 artists will participate — the most ever, Subak said.
The artists will also sell their work during the two-day art viewing marathon, which runs from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. In the past, selling wasn't encouraged because organizers didn't want the audience to feel intimidated or for artists to compete too much with each other, Subak said.
Organizers are hoping for high audience numbers to match the growing roster of artists. Some were worried Gowanus Open Studios would lose viewers to GO, a borough-wide open studios event that happened just a month ago.
But data collected during the GO weekend showed that Gowanus attracted thousands of art lovers — more than most other Brooklyn neighborhoods — and Subak is hoping viewers will come back for more.
"We're kind of hoping to ride that wave," Subak said.
Though Gowanus is known for its artists, much of their work is hidden from view. Gowanus Open Studios gives the public a rare peek inside the nondescript industrial buildings and warehouses that people stroll past every day without realizing they're hotbeds of creative activity, Subak said.
"You don't think about these buildings," Subak said. "Sometimes they look abandoned, or boring, but once you're exposed to what's happening inside you can never walk past again without thinking about all the creativity that's happening right on the other side of those walls."
Among the participating artists is printmaker Linda Adato, 69, who makes etchings of urban landscapes in her President Street studio. To get ready for the event, she'll spend the week selecting her best etchings to display, but she'll also need to tidy up her living room, she said.
Adato's studio is inside the duplex where she lives, and visitors will have to walk through her home to see her work. "I'll have to clean it up — but I don't want to clean it up too much because it is a workspace," Adato said.
Adato, who participated in Gowanus Open Studios for the first time last year, said she's looking forward to chatting with visitors about how printmaking works, from idea to finished print.
Her advice to art lovers who will be visiting studios this weekend: "Wear comfortable shoes and try to see things you haven't seen before."
"[Artists] are anxious to talk about their work," Adato said. "They welcome questions about the process."
To see which artists are participating in Gowanus Open Studios, download a map online, or pick up a paper map at two information hubs: Brooklyn Art Space at 168 Seventh Street and the artists' building at 295 Douglass Street.