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for The Brooklyn Paper
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This exhibition gives new meaning to the phrase “outsider art.”

A South Slope gallery will turn into a public park for the next month in an ode to the late landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, the man behind such green landmarks as Prospect Park and Central Park.

Starting Aug. 24, Open Source Gallery will host picnics, theatrical and musical performances, and a film series inspired by the man as part of the exhibition “We Know Now Exactly Where or How.”

The poetic title comes from Olmsted himself, who, after visiting England’s Isle of Wight in 1850, remarked, “Gradually and silently the charm comes over us; we know not exactly where or how.”

Curator Elizabeth Spavento was inspired to create a space that explores that charm, and other ineffable qualities of parks, in an exhibition that relies on community participation.

“I think Olmsted saw parks as being a really integral part of the self — not just individual but civic identity,” said Spavento. “I’m really trying to make the community the center of the experience.”

To that end, Spavento is taking an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together music, theater, and art throughout the exhibition’s run.

Some of the free public events scheduled include public picnics in partnership with the Greenwood Heights CSA; a mural by Molly Dilworth painted on the gallery doors; a live performance by the music group Exact Change Project; film screenings; a performance by artists Athena Kokoronis and Jan Mun that explores birds, trees, plants, and fungi; a bike workshop hosted by Sustainable Flatbush; and, kicking things off on Saturday, a performance of “Olmsted in Autumn,” a new play by Anne Phelan based on the life and work of the landscape architect.

“My tendency whenever I curate is to approach one topic from as many different perspectives as possible,” said Spavento.

“There’s something for everybody.”

And, of course, the gallery itself will be a piece of work, as the former two-car garage will be outfitted with trees and planters, providing shade and places to sit or read, just like you would normally find in a park.

“Imagine a pocket park that’s inside instead of outside,” said Spavento. “I don’t want to reveal too much, I want people to come down and experience it.”

“We Know Not Exactly Where or How” at Open Source Gallery (306 17th St. near Sixth Avenue, open-source-gallery.org), Aug. 24–Oct. 5. Free.

Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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