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Brooklyn Gallery Hosts Nightly Soup Kitchen With a Side of Art

By Leslie Albrecht | December 15, 2015 9:14am | Updated on December 16, 2015 8:46am
 Open Source Gallery, a small gallery on 17th Street and Sixth Avenue, is hosting a series of free dinners during December. Cooks are encouraged to present art along with their food. The meals are open to all.
Open Source Gallery, a small gallery on 17th Street and Sixth Avenue, is hosting a series of free dinners during December. Cooks are encouraged to present art along with their food. The meals are open to all.
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Open Source Gallery

GREENWOOD HEIGHTS — This art show will nourish your mind and body.

Open Source Gallery on 17th Street and Sixth Avenue is hosting a soup kitchen this month where volunteers prepare free dinners, usually with a side order of art.

Each supper serves about 15 to 20 people every night at 7 p.m., and the chefs are encouraged to also whip up a piece of art or a performance piece to go with the meal.

"It's really like a performance piece," said gallery owner Monika Wuhrer. "All these people come together, there are all these conversations that happen. ... The food is always good and very often there's really great art."

So far this month a professional percussionist has prepared a veggie curry then led a drum circle, and a married couple made chicken and clam stew, then used some of the clamshells in a weaving project.

The meals are open to anyone who shows up (though the cozy gallery space can't hold many more than about 20). Guests include homeless people or others who are hungry or down on their luck, as well as neighbors and supporters of the gallery, Wuhrer said.

She described the meals as fun lively events where diners come for the conversations as much as the food. Guests at this year's round of free suppers discussed the Syrian refugee crisis on a night when a photographer showed work from the war-torn country, and talked about the plight of New York's homeless after a cook showed a short film on the topic.

“Every day is interesting,” Wuhrer said. “Sometimes it doesn’t really flow, but in general it’s very nice.” She added that homeless guests are “never left out" of the conversation.

Open Source Gallery has been hosting the soup kitchen since 2008. The gallery spreads the word about the free dinners by posting fliers in three languages throughout the South Slope and Sunset Park, Wuhrer said.

Wuhrer said the dinners are in keeping with Open Source's community-minded mission. The nonprofit gallery specializes in showing emerging artists and art with a social justice component. Open Source also hosts an annual soap box derby for kids.

The soup kitchen will run through Dec. 31 every night from 7 to 9 p.m. at Open Source Gallery, 306 17th St. (between Fifth and Sixth avenues.) There are still a few nights where no one has signed up to cook; if you're interested, click here for more information and sign up to cook here.