Spaces and Places: Art Along the Brooklyn Waterfront Conference a Success!

Thanks to all who came to the Spaces & Places: Art Along the Brooklyn Waterfront Conference. The Keynote Speaker Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl began the conference by discussing his New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Initiatives on diversity in the arts and housing for artists. A panel of artists followed, explaining the role of the waterfront in creating their art. They also recounted their experiences finding affordable rents in DUMBO in the 1980s and mentioned current projects such as building a temporary floating bridge to Governors Island and bioswales for the Brooklyn waterfront.

After a networking break, two final panels mixed artists, gallery owners, and developers to discuss how art will continue being made along the waterfront.

Photos below are by Andie Lessa, City Tech Faculty Commons Design Team and the BWRC’s Jeremiah Cox:

1_by_andie_lessa 5 by Jeremiah Cox 4 by Andie Lessa 3 by Andie Lessa 2 by Jeremiah Cox 6 by Andie Lessa 10 by Jeremiah Cox 8 by Andie Lessa 9 by Andie Lessa 7 by Jeremiah Cox 11 by Andie Lessa 15 by Andie Lessa 14 by Andie Lessa 13 by Jeremiah Cox 12 by Jeremiah Cox 16 by Andie Lessa 20 by Jeremiah Cox 19 by Jeremiah Cox 18 by Andie Lessa 17 by Andie Lessa

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Speakers Announced for “Spaces & Places: Art Along the Brooklyn Waterfront” Conference

The BWRC is proud to announce the confirmed speakers for the Spaces & Places: Art Along the Brooklyn Waterfront Conference Friday, March 27 at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall.

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Keynote Address: Commissioner, Thomas Finkelpearl, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs

Panel One: Artists

Panel Two: Places for Making, Displaying, and Selling Art I

Panel Three: Places for Making, Displaying, and Selling Art II

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Registration for Spaces and Places: Art on the Brooklyn Waterfront is now Open!


Registration for the BWRC’s 2015 Conference on Spaces and Places: Art Along the Brooklyn Waterfront on March 27, 2015 from 8:30am to 12:30pm at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall is now open. The conference will tell an interesting and important story about how and where art is made, displayed and sold along the Brooklyn Waterfront. Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs will be the Keynote Speaker.
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Eymund Diegel Discusses CSI on the Gowanus Canal

On February 27, 2015 urban planner and citizen scientist Eymund Diegel of the Public Lab gave an insightful breakfast talk on the various CSI techniques and tools he’s used to map and record the environmental history of his neighborhood including the Gowanus Canal. Diegel showed the various rudimentary tools he uses in his research from inexpensive cameras mounted on kites and balloons to using microphones to listen to the sounds of New York City sewer’s and sense where former steams once ran. The data he’s collected has been used to map a range of features from underground and still bubbling springs in and near the canal to finding the sources of various creeks who’s headwaters are in the canal and finding their sources in Prospect Park. Overall Eymund showcased the important work the Public Lab is doing to help the efforts to understand the ecological history of the Gowanus Canal.

If you missed his talk, download his Presentation with insightful notes on what he discussed. (Warning: Large PowerPoint File).

diegel_1 diegel_2


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Breakfast Talk (2/27) CSI on the Waterfront

The first BWRC Breakfast Talk of 2015 is with Eymund Diegel on Friday, February 27 at Citytech in A632 from 8:30am to 10:00am:

on the Waterfront

Urban planner and citizen-scientist Eymund Diegel has used kites, helium-filled balloons, and inexpensive cameras for the aerial photography that has helped him chart the environmental history of the land and the people of his neighborhood along the Brooklyn waterfront.

Diegel is a board member of the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab), a loosely organized community that practices “civic science.” He will speak about some of his discoveries, the tools that were employed to make them, and the way these discoveries can be used to improve the environmental conditions of his Gowanus neighborhood.

Support provided by Title V: A Living Laboratory


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Upcoming: Breakfast Talk (Feb 27th) and Art Conference (March 27th)

  • February 27, 2015 – Breakfast Talk: CSI along the Waterfront
  • March 27, 2015 – Conference: Spaces and Places: Art along the Brooklyn Waterfront
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2015 Conference: Spaces and Places Art Along the Brooklyn Waterfront

Spaces and Places: Art along the Brooklyn Waterfront

A Conference to Be Offered March 27, 2015 at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall
by BWRC and the Brooklyn Historical Society

Artists and their work have played and continue to play a pivotal role in the resurgence of the Brooklyn waterfront. James Rodgers of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition wrote in the book that accompanied the coalition’s first “Open Doors” event in 1996 that, “Proximity to the mega art market systems of Manhattan and the generally more generous building sizes along…the waterfront go a long way in explaining why artists decided to settle here.” While that may have been true almost thirty years ago, the scene has shifted into a higher gear. In fact, this past spring, Martha Schwendener wrote in The New York Times that upon entering Brooklyn, “you’ve entered the belly of contemporary art. It’s our 19th-century Paris or 18th-century Rome, with one of the largest concentrations of artists in the world. Here, you’ll find both commercial galleries and nonprofit and artist-run spaces — and thousands upon thousands of places you can visit during open-studio weekends scattered throughout the year.” Brooklyn no longer looks over its shoulder to any place, especially across the East River. But there is more to this transformation.

The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center, in partnership with the Brooklyn Historical Society, will present a conference that will explore the evolution of the way art has been made, shown, and sold along the Brooklyn waterfront. The conference will first offer an historical overview of art in the borough over the centuries, taking us to the recent past. It will then use panels to open a discussion among artists, gallery owners, art distributors, and those who, in one way or another, make spaces available for the “process of art.”

The focus of the conference’s three panels will be on the places where the process of art occurs—the making, showing, and distributing of art. The first panel will examine and discuss this central question: Where can artists practice their art? This question will lead the panel to explore the historical evolution of art spaces and what the future might hold. The second panel will look at the places—both public and private—where art can be shown. The third panel will examine the places art is distributed, through sales and other means.

While this conference cannot answer all questions, we hope to provide an atmosphere where questions about what Brooklyn waterfront art will look like, where this art will happen, and how can art, artists and art spaces survive – will be central to the day’s conversations. Not only the speakers, but all of us have a stake in the answers to these questions.

Printable Version of the Conference Description

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Walking New York City’s Waterfront Neighborhoods

Prof. William Helmreich gave the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center a colorful breakfast talk on his experience walking all 6,000 miles of New York City streets that he recorded in his book, The New York Nobody Knows. After he described his travels throughout the city, Prof. Helmreich told stories about his walks along the Brooklyn waterfront. His next book will have him revisiting the streets of Brooklyn for a book tentatively titled The Brooklyn Nobody Knows.

helmreich6 helmreich1 helmreich3 helmreich2

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Tarry Hum Discusses Global Immigration and Development in Sunset Park

On October 24, 2014, Professor Tarry Hum gave a BWRC Breakfast Talk discussing Power Plants, Sex Shops, Industrial Zones, and Open Space: The Politics of a Sustainable Working Waterfront. This talk discussed how globalization has affected the jobs, buildings and people in the neighborhood. This has included the infusion of capital from China to the increasing number of residents from China and Mexico. Also, she detailed how the re-development of Times Square by global corporations resulted in the relocation of the ‘seedier’ Times Square enterprises to industrial sections of Sunset Park. Professor Hum explained how Sunset Park remains one of the contested neighborhoods along the fast developing Brooklyn Waterfront.

Here are some photos:

tarry-hum1 tarry-hum2 tarry-hum3 tarry-hum4 tarry-hum5 tarry-hum6

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Walking New York City’s Waterfront Neighborhoods Breakfast Talk is 11/14

The next BWRC breakfast talk with William Helmreich is on Friday, November 14th at CityTech in Namm 119:

Walking New York City’s Waterfront Neighborhoods


Sociologist William B. Helmreich walked virtually every block of all five boroughs – an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey is the focus of his latest book The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City. This journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. The walk included the waterfront communities of all five boroughs. We asked Prof. Helmreich, as a pedestrian, did he find something distinctly “Brooklyn” about Brooklyn’s waterfront communities – and what was it? Come hear his answer.

Helmreich walking, credit to Neville Elder-crop
Photo: Neville Elder

William B. Helmreich is professor of sociology at the City University Graduate Center (CUNY) and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York. His many books include What Was I Thinking? The Dumb Things We Do and How to Avoid Them. He is a native New Yorker.


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