This artist didn’t need an eraser — just a different frame.
A gallery owner has canceled an event to anoint his pick of the “most influential” people “shaping” Bushwick, after it ignited a heated online debate with locals who slammed it as a tone-deaf celebration of gentrification. But the critics claim that’s not what they wanted — he should have gone ahead with the show so they could hash it out in the open.
“This is why we don’t progress, because people are cowards,” said local artist Jazo Brooklyn, who grew up in Brownsville and moved to Bushwick in 2005. “We feel uncomfortable every day because of what’s happening, and you’re not willing to feel uncomfortable to open up more eyes in the community?”
Fuchs Gallery owner Rafael Fuchs — a photographer who hails from Israel and has lived in Bushwick for 10 years — launched the Facebook event page for his “Bushwick 200” show on Saturday, saying he planned to honor 200 residents in the rapidly-changing nabe across a number of fields including art, tech, and real estate.
But the critics flooded the page with angry comment, questioning his intentions and bona fides for handing out the titles, and clashing with those who supported the show.
“To state the most innovative you should without a doubt be a native,” wrote Brooklyn. “If you’re not then you’re just exploiting our community as well as help with the white-washing.”
The spat quickly turned ugly, with commenters hurling racially charged remarks.
“Lighten up y’all. In the real world out there beyond the borders of ethnocentric barrio you seek to preserve, these kinds of ‘200’ lists are routine, healthy and illuminating,” wrote Park Slope gallerist Ethan Pettit.
Fuchs defended the show at first, claiming his only intention was to highlight “positive influences” in the neighborhood, and would only celebrate real-estate professionals who respect the arts and community (he said he hadn’t found any yet).
But on Tuesday, he deleted all of the comments, saying he took the concerns seriously, but didn’t want to provide a platform for the “negativity and aggression.” On Thursday, he officially canceled the event.
Fuchs says he does want to keep the discussion going — he just thinks everyone needs some time to chill out, blaming the conflict on misconceptions, lack of communication, and a few “bad seeds” derailing the debate.
“Canceling the event gives us all a minute to re-group, breathe, and open an opportunity to start having a serious dialogue without the heat and aggression,” said Fuchs.
©2016 Community News Group
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