Flatbush art ‘pop-up’ embraces gentrification

Flatbush art ‘pop-up’ embraces gentrification
Community News Group / Alexandra Simon

The Flatbush Junction Business Improvement District held an art show in a real-estate office on Jan. 12 to get locals on board with the area’s gentrification. Many residents fear newcomers will make their neighborhood too expensive to live in, but they need to be figuring out ways to capitalize on new money flowing into the area, according to business improvement district leader Kenneth Mbonu.

“They are scared, but it’s going to happen either way, so if you want to stay, you have to add value to stay in the area,” he said.

“People are apprehensive and they are scared of change. But don’t be scared — embrace it. My goal is to get people to look at this and not look at it as a threatening move but how they can make money.”

The group held the “Intersection at the Junction” pop-up art show — the first in a series — at Victoria Stennett Realty Group’s Flatbush Avenue office. Some pieces even featured Stennett, because the 27-year real-estate veteran has such bearing on the neighborhood’s past — and it’s future, one artist said.

“I was conveying Flatbush landscape and the things have come and gone in and around it over time,” said mixed-media artist Stephanie Renee Casso. “How I incorporate Victoria into my work — she rents places and she’s like a gateway to community. She’s where newcomers go to get housing.”

Another installation called “Women of Flatbush” across the street at newly opened Event Space Venue featured portraits of neighborhood’s leading ladies, many of whom helped artist Keka Marzagao feel more at home when she first moved to Flatbush seven years ago.

“Right away I thought about women I knew, because when I moved here, I met so many amazing and strong women” said the Brazillian-born Marzagao, who also works with eco-justice group Sustainable Flatbush. “These women I knew were strong and inspiring and show the diversity of people who live here.”

Additional art shows will spring up — and remain permanently — in a dozen area stores as a way of increasing foot traffic to the Junction’s businesses, according to Mbonu.

“Intersection @ the Junction” at Event Start Venue [1449 Flatbush Avenue between Glenwood and Farragut roads in Flatbush, www.intersectionatthejunction.com]. Feb. 9 and Mar. 9. 6–9 pm. Free.