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Bushwick Gallery Owner to Leave 'Saturated' Art Scene for New Local Digs

By Meredith Hoffman | December 18, 2012 8:06am

BUSHWICK — Whether donning a dress adorned with dangling dolls' legs for Bushwick's first Fashion Weekend, or hosting philosophy discussions and organic-cooking lessons, Nyssa Frank has turned her young art gallery into a Flushing Avenue mainstay.

But now, she has plenty of company from other arts businesses nearby — meaning it's time to move on to a less crowded part of the neighborhood, she said.

Frank, 27, who has curated shows at the Loom arts collective the past two years and who last year opened the Living Gallery inside 1087 Flushing Ave., said the crowded art scene near the Morgan L train subway stop is pushing her to relocate.

"I'm looking for places that are not so saturated with galleries," Frank said, noting the presence nearby of 56 Bogart Street's galleries and other shops in the area.

"I love this part of Bushwick, but I feel I'm becoming redundant just by being another gallery. When I first moved here there weren't many, and now there are a lot."

Frank, whose "trendy Brooklyn art studio" was featured in a recent USA Today article dubbing Brooklyn "the new bohemia," said a primary reason for leaving the Loom was to find a place where she could host live music.

But she said all the buildings she's looking at — for a planned March or April move — are on the other side of Flushing Avenue from the Morgan train stop. Frank noted that the influx of more shops and the plan for a Bushwick shopping mall on Bogart Street also solidified her decision to relocate.

"I want to be further out in Bushwick... in order for me to reach a broader community that's more diverse," she said, emphasizing the importance of her gallery's educational component and noting her plans to teach Bushwick teens acting in the future space.

She said she wanted to be in an area with more families and cultural diversity, which she said was more prevalent in the farther reaches of Bushwick.

Frank was recently featured in El Diario for engaging the Latino community in her recently conceived "Bushwick Zoo" — the neighborhood's version of Fashion Weekend — in which she led a group parading in costumes throughout the streets.

"I'm about celebrating and preserving the existing community — and enriching it, offering an alternative," she said.

Gallery owner Peter Hopkins — whose Bogart Salon is one of the many new exhibit spaces at 56 Bogart — said Frank's move would mark a loss for the nearby artists and residents.

"It makes me deeply sad because Nyssa is one of the great voices of young gallerists — she's thoughtful, intelligent, playful and anti-ordinary in terms of her procedures," Hopkins said.

But Hopkins — who led a panel earlier this year on the art world's effects on real estate — said Frank may be leading a whole new wave of migrations of artists who leave for either ideological or economic reasons.

"I completely understand her feeling, because Bushwick is undergoing a commercial transformation that we always knew was coming but we couldn't anticipate the speed it would happen," Hopkins said.

"I think it will become increasingly common for people to come to this conclusion," he said of the decision to move further out in Bushwick.

But as distressing as the transformation might seem, Hopkins said he could imagine no other alternative, and that many artists would likely leave when rents further increased.

"It's sad, but I don't know the answer," he said. "Unless we had a way to market stabilize rents, my sense is she may not be the last to move."