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Bushwick Open Studios moving to fall, artists hope to cool off frat-party reputation

Summer days: A performance artist at last year’s Bushwick Open Studios, who led a troupe that stripped down to its underwear and frolicked in the streets.
Brooklyn Paper
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It used to be about the art, man.

The organizers of Bushwick Open Studios are moving the annual summer arts festival to the fall this year, and local artists hope the change will erase the event’s reputation as a massive frat party, which is increasingly overshadowing their wacky performance pieces and sculptural installations.

“It was originally intended to spotlight the local artists who had studios here, and it has really morphed into something of a big party weekend,” said Deborah Brown of gallery Storefront Ten Eyck, who says she heard of the shift through the local artists grapevine.

Volunteer group Arts in Bushwick has hosted the art crawl in June in recent years, but will move it to the weekend of Oct. 1 for 2016.

The indoor-outdoor event — in which creative types working in the nabe open their doors to visitors, and fill the streets with their works — has become a major event on Brooklyn’s cultural calendar, but is increasingly attracting a loud and lewd crowd, Brown said.

And things took a particularly nasty turn last year when troublemakers vandalized a sculpture project she installed on Rock Street, pulling it out of the ground.

“It was becoming unpleasant, even for people continuing to be involved in it,” she said. “I think the organizers are metaphorically hitting the reset button.”

The organizers said only that the event started out as an autumnal festival 10 years ago, and they are hoping to take the exposition back to its roots while gaining extra planning time so more people can have a say.

“Bushwick Open Studios was held in the fall in its earliest iterations and we are looking to rekindle that spirit,” the group said.

Arts in Bushwick will still stage the festival’s annual Community Day on June 5 — a family-friendly party in the park the group says artists have had to skip in previous years because they have been busy hosting guests to their studios.

The organizers will also host a public meeting on March 30 to discuss their new mission for Bushwick Open Studios and to gather community feedback before deciding how to proceed in October.

Arts in Bushwick Town Hall at Mayday Community Space (176 St. Nicholas Avenue between Himrod and Stanhope streets in Bushwick, www.maydayspace.org). 7–9 pm.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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