Arts And Business Meet On Atlantic Avenue

With Gowanus Open Studios and Atlantic Antic canceled, businesses and artists join forces for a public art walk along Atlantic Avenue.

A person passing by David Kutz’s art. (Photo via Arts Gowanus on Atlantic Ave, with permission)

BROOKLYN – Beginning tomorrow, all sorts of artwork including paintings, drawings, prints, photography, installation, and sculptures, will be displayed on storefronts, roll down gates, and dining fences in a socially-distanced art exhibit called Arts Gowanus Art Walk on Atlantic Ave.

Every fall, the Gowanus Open Studios and Atlantic Antic take place to showcase art and entertainment, respectively. This year, it would’ve been the 24th anniversary of Gowanus Open Studios and the 48th anniversary of Atlantic Antic. Because of COVID-19, both had to be canceled, making it difficult for artists and entrepreneurs who usually took advantage of these events. But, the organizers of Arts Gowanus, the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), and the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation put their heads together to combine their events into one safe, socially-distanced event lasting throughout the month of October.

“It’s been a really rough year for artists in the neighborhood, and this is a real uplifting thing,” Johnny Thornton, the executive director Arts Gowanus told Bklyner. “We raised enough money for every artist to get a stipend, which is kind of rare for artists to be paid to show their work without selling anything. Everyone is excited and really thirsty to engage in culture. It is still hard to see art without having to go indoors, and so this is a good thing for our community.”

The artwork will be displayed along Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, and Downtown Brooklyn. It is a total of 1.5 miles, includes over 64 local businesses, with 110 local artists being featured in the month-long Art Walk. It will launch tomorrow, October 17, and end on November 1.

“This will bring people to Atlantic Avenue, people who maybe didn’t know about the shops or who haven’t been out because they don’t feel comfortable. They’ll be able to see that it’s quite safe, as far as social distancing,” Kate Chura, the executive director of the Atlantic Avenue BID told Bklyner.

“It’s just a great way to get people out on the streets sampling yummy food, going into shops. One thing that is unique about Atlantic Avenue is the small businesses and boutique shops, and you get a flavor of Brooklyn on Atlantic Avenue. It’s a nice experience of who Brooklyners are.”

David Kutz is an artist who will have four of his artwork featured on the NYU Langone construction wall at 89 Atlantic Avenue. He told us he was really excited for people to walk by and see his work, as well as the work of other artists in Brooklyn.

“I’ve been wanting to have an opportunity to show my work large and in a public arena for a long time,” Kutz said. “This was an opportunity for making some large prints and having a place to put them up, and having people randomly in public being able to interact with that work.”

For Kutz, art is about making people think about things they might not be thinking about. One of his prints at the Art Walk is a photo of a panopticon; it has to do with surveillance and how an individual or society is surveilled. He tried to explain through his print how surveillance can exert power or control. There is one existing panopticon structure in Cuba, and he went there for a week and photographed the place.

Lutz’s print at the Art Walk. (Photo via Arts Gowanus on Atlantic Avenue, with permission)

Another print of his is about cultural landscapes; a term that can have a multitude of meanings.

“It is the study of the relationship between people and place and how people are influenced by the environment and how that influences people,” Kutz explained. “I took that idea and created panoramic views where people are duplicated. The idea is for people to stop and think about what that particular location is over a period of time. It’s the idea of time or of time passing and motion.”

Karen Zebulon is the owner of Gumbo, a small shop in Boerum Hill that offers handcrafted home gifts, accessories children’s clothing, readings, and classes. Her shop will be featuring four artists (one in the big garden and three inside the shop itself). She is beyond excited for the Art Walk and believes it will be good for the entire community.

“Coronavirus impacted business tremendously. So many people have not made it through. I’ve been in business for 19 years. I made it through the recession. This has a much greater impact because at least the doors were not closed during the recession,” she said. “Having your doors closed for a long time and dealing with restrictions and fears of COVID-19 is rough, difficult, and challenging. It makes people think differently.”

During the peak of the pandemic, Zebulon took the time to finally work on her shop’s website, something she had always neglected to do.

“This Art Walk is important for the community to reconnect in a strong way,” she said, “with local businesses and local artists.”

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Zainab Iqbal

Zainab is a staff reporter at Bklyner who sometimes writes poetry in her free time || zainab@bklyner.com

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