GOWANUS — Art lovers can get a guided tour of the local art scene at this weekend's Gowanus Open Studios.
There are 350 artists' work spaces this year that will be open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 18 and 19.
Though the annual art fest is self-guided, with art hunters using a map to discover studios, this year organizers invited 10 professional curators to lead tours for visitors who want extra insight into what they're seeing.
“I love that Open Studios is not curated — it’s about getting out, exploring artwork and finding the things you love as a visitor,” said Abby Subak, director of Arts Gowanus, which organizes the event. "At the same time, when we're talking about 350 artist studios, it can feel overwhelming and even intimidating...This will give [visitors] an entry point."
The guides include Benjamin Sutton, an editor at artnet News, Courtney Wendroff, the visual arts director of the Brooklyn Arts Council, and Derrick B. Harden, a hip-hop artist and art curator known as Dear Derrick. The tours are $20 and last about two hours.
For budding collectors, the weekend will also have a free panel discussion on how to build an art collection, and fans of public art can take a free walking tour of neighborhood murals with Groundswell Murals.
Now in its 18th year, Gowanus Open Studios has drawn more visitors with each passing year. Two years ago roughly 3,000 people attended; last year there were about 5,000 visitors, Subak said.
With new businesses such as Whole Foods on Third Avenue and Ample Hills Creamery on Union Street attracting foot traffic to the neighborhood's once-desolate streets, Subak is expecting a record number of attendees this year.
The new merchants are also helping Gowanus Open Studios by sponsoring the event. Both Whole Foods and Ample Hills donated money, as did several other neighborhood newcomers, including Artist & Craftsman Supply, the art supply store on Fourth Avenue, and the Morbid Anatomy Museum on Seventh Street.
The Lightstone Group, the developer building 700 units of housing on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, is among the event's major sponsors.
“It’s become a community-wide event with a lot of people invested in it,” Subak said. “It’s a huge investment of time and energy for the artists, but the number of art enthusiasts and art buyers that are coming out have made it worth it.”