Bushwick Open Studios is a self-organized festival produced by the all-volunteer community group Arts in Bushwick. This year's events encompassed galleries, theaters, homes, art studios, local businesses and non-profits, and public spaces, with more than 4,500 participants in 450 separate activities.
The festival included live music, artist showcases and interactive performance installations. It was divided into six zones, which together stretched from Lorimer to Woodward streets, past Metropolitan Avenue and all along Knickerbocker.
Local bars and restaurants welcomed visitors who were hungry and thirsty from traipsing around the scene.
Artist B. Thom Stevenson turned a commercial truck into a mobile gallery called the “War Wagon,” which he parked in front of 12 Grattan Street, down the road from a tent in which visitors were drumming on a coffin while some took turns getting shut inside.
Stevenson uses foliage and scraps he finds around Bushwick to use as prints and sculpturing material for his multi-media weaponry installations, which he hung on the walls on the inside of his War Wagon.
It was Stevenson's first time participating in Bushwick Open Studios, he said, and he loved it.
“A lot of people don't take Bushwick seriously, they're afraid of it,” he said. “I don't think they directly correlate Bushwick to art, and this is changing all of that.”
Over in a four-floor set of galleries on Johnson Street and Stewart Avenue, artist and Storefront Gallery owner Deborah Brown showcased her paintings, which focus on industrial ruins, such as old factories and rusty cars.
This was Brown's sixth time in the festival, and one of the original participants.
“It's gotten so much bigger, now there are galleries and curated shows,” she said of its development while standing next to her paintings on Saturday evening.
“Many, many more people are coming, you can see it out on streets,” she added, attributing part of this year's success to the L train running. “It's proven to be a great event.”
Theresa Daddezio showcased her highly detailed paintings that resemble micro-organisms and other brightly colored imagery, which she produces using low-toxic paint thinner in another part of the same building.
“Today could not have been more perfect, the weather is beautiful, Manhattan is here,” she said.
Daddezio was another first-timer in the festival, although did visit it last year, and found out how to participate through the Bushwick Daily blog.
Bushwick Open Studios gives artists an opportunity to be more open to the public than usual, which can be daunting, but also amazing, she said.
She agreed that the L train running this year had a huge impact on the turnout for the festival, and was grateful that the volunteers' hard work came to fruition.
“The amount of dedication and effort and hours, the work that goes into making this one weekend, it all comes together,” Daddezio said. “It shows that everyone here can be organized and we're not just hobby artists, and we have ambition and want to make this happen.”