BWAC’s new spring exhibitions, exploring nature, watercolors, and more, to open April 30

BWAC painting people on blue and yellow background
Patricia O’Donnell’s watercolor “Nocturnal Bathers” will be on display at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition as part of their Spring Exhibitions starting this Saturday, April 30.
Patricia O’Donnell/BWAC

Four new exhibitions are opening at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition this weekend, bringing a host of brand new works across different mediums and themes to Red Hook.

“The Elements,” a national juried exhibition judged by Scout Hutchinson, a curatorial fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art, fills the first floor of BWAC’s warehouse space with 125 works from artists all over the country, explores the world through its five most basic components: Water, Earth, Fire, Wind, and Sky.

More than 1,000 artists submitted their works for consideration, said BWAC president Alicia Degener, and Scout selected three winners from the 125 who were chosen for the exhibition. Those three winners have their own show on Artsy, an online art exhibition platform.

Upstairs, BWAC decided to stay on theme in their show, “Sky Earth Sea,” giving their members a space to examine their own relationship with the environment, especially after the last two pandemic years have changed so much.

The environment is a particularly important topic to BWAC’s artists, Degener said, given the space’s location in a neighborhood particularly beholden to the effects of climate change.

“BWAC was completely devastated by Hurricane Sandy, it took out the entire first floor of the building, and all of Red Hook, itself, is below the waterline and in peril of flooring at any time,” she said.

green and pink clay coral at BWAC
Artist Sandra Giunta created “Coral Memories,” out of clay, the work is part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s spring exhibitions, which open to the public on Saturday. Sandra Giunta/BWAC

City agencies have been developing plans to make parts of Red Hook safer from rising seas, but some groups, including BWAC, fear for the future of their buildings and businesses if those plans come to pass, since they don’t prioritize the very edges of the neighborhood.

“We’re very aware of like, we don’t know how long we’ll have the space,” she said. “Everything’s up in the air.”

Tucked into the second floor of the building is a new show by the Brooklyn Watercolor Society, who rent space from BWAC for their work. Eleven watercolor painters from Brooklyn show off their skills and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Society.

For the fourth exhibit opening on Saturday, the Coalition felt they had to do something to support  Ukraine refugees as the Russian invasion stretches on, displacing millions of families. They came up with “Art and Artists for Ukraine,” an open-call show featuring works from artists all over, not just BWAC members. 

Half of the proceeds made from sales will be donated to the USA for UNHCR fund, a United Nations fundraiser established to support families fleeing their homes in Ukraine. Each sale will be matched by Gap Inc., doubling the money donated.

bwac painting of reservoir
Nora Aresti explores nature and the environment in her painting “Shokan Reservoir, Where NYC Gets Its Drinking Water,” on display at BWAC starting this Saturday. Nora Aresti/BWAC

Not every piece in that show is Ukrainian-themed, but many are. Degener’s own contribution to that show depicts doves in blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, while other artists have incorporated the colors or the sunflower, Ukraine’s national flower.

The spring exhibitions are on show from April 30 to June 5, with a special reception this Saturday, April 30, to celebrate the art and artists. The afternoon will feature live music and the opportunity to browse all kinds of works at the Maker’s Mart, which is open every weekend and is the perfect place to buy gifts for Mother’s Day in a few weeks, Degener added.

She encouraged art lovers to check out the show and support the Coalition, and reminded neighborhood artists that BWAC hosts five shows a year and charges just $50 for each exhibiting artist, in an effort to stay true to their mission of providing artists an affordable, accessible space to showcase their work.

“BWAC is a wonderful, all-volunteer group, we have about 150 members, and we run that huge gallery with artists helping each other,” she said. “It’s more than just [visual art,] it’s artists of all kinds.”

Find out more and get all the details on BWAC’s new exhibition here.