Impressions of Gowanus: Painters make the canal, warehouses subject of art show

Impressions of Gowanus: Painters make the canal, warehouses subject of art show
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Just look at the way this painting captures the hastily scrawled graffiti over peeling paint.

Park Slope artist Jeff Faerber is curating an upcoming art show dubbed “Gowanus in Gowanus” that will feature artists who all share an aesthetic appreciation for the historically industrial neighborhood.

Highlights include paintings capturing the light bouncing off the notoriously filthy Gowanus Canal that bisects the neighborhood, the elevated portion of the F and G subway station, and quaint bridges such as the historic Carroll Street Bridge.

“The Gowanus neighborhood is one of those contradictory areas where you are in thick, densely populated New York City, but the streets are eerily vacant and quiet,” said Faerber, whose work depicting the red, half-century-old Kentile Floors sign that sits atop the former flooring factory on Ninth Street is featured in the show.

Casting an artist’s eye on the neighborhood, Faerber said he feels attracted to the unseen poetry of place.

“Graffiti is frequently sprayed on walls like tattoos on today’s youth. Brick walls and metal grates over warehouses hint at human activity having happened in theory, like remnants from an archaeological dig of a long lost civilization,” he said. “I’m drawn to Gowanus for these reasons.”

Faerber rounded up mostly New York-based artists to give the neighborhood — which still retains its industrial feel from its days as a shipping and manufacturing hub — what he believes is it’s due as the subject of artistic attention.

“It’s the chance to see various takes on a similar theme,” said the artist who tends to paint city-scapes. “We’re not trying to give Gowanus a makeover or convince anyone that its nicer than it is – it is just capturing it as it is.”

The approximately 30 paintings exhibited in the art show range in styles from tight renderings, to loose line drawings, and expressive impressions of the streets, said Faerber.

Artist Jeff Bellerose of California whose paintings of the train station and water tower will be displayed in the show said that Gowanus is the opposite of the city’s hustle, which makes it appealing to him.

“City paintings are frequently about the activity and the bustle of people. Most of my paintings are more about the stillness and the permanence of the spaces that lie beneath and behind the everyday,” he said. “The industrial sparsity of Gowanus, and the underdeveloped areas of New York in general, have a raw openness that is intriguing.”

“Gowanus in Gowanus” at Littlefield [622 Degraw St, between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, (718) 855–3388, www.littlefieldnyc.com]. Opening reception May 11, 6–9 pm, through June 2.