Picture perfect: Artists explore ‘Brooklyn Utopias’

Picture perfect: Artists explore ‘Brooklyn Utopias’
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Some Brooklynites believe that our borough is perfect just as it is — but these artists know better.

How about a pollution-free Gowanus Canal that extends to Park Slope? And why aren’t there any windmills in J.J. Byrne Park?

These visions for an improved borough, and more, are on show in a new art exhibit called “Brooklyn Utopias,” opening at the Old Stone House on April 5.

Curator Katherine Gressel tapped more than a dozen artists and arts organizations to contribute works tackling the future of public parks and open space in Kings County.

And that led to some intriguing ideas, including Gressel’s favorite: a playground made from renovated water tanks that creates energy from frolicking children.

Artists Christina Kelly and Jeff Hutchinson contributed schematic drawings and watercolor sketches of the eco-friendly, and child-friendly play area, which includes seesaws and a swing set that power several renovated hot tubs for adults.

“They actually did some scientific research into it,” said Gressel. “It would actually be feasible for this to happen.”

In addition to designs of recreational waterways and public sanctuaries, artists have documented the rapid change that has occurred in their neighborhoods.

Cheryl Molnar’s photographs show Kent Avenue’s transformation from a derelict industrial wasteland to a glimmering strip of glass towers and well-manicured waterfront parks, exploring the trade-offs that urban renewal has brought to Williamsburg.

Bettina Johae’s postcards of city-owned sites that could be changed to parks extends ongoing debates about residential development and eminent domain.

And no exhibit about public spaces could be complete without a nod to Occupy Wall Street, represented here with paintings of Zuccotti Park that address the limits of free speech and behavior inside public spaces.

Don’t worry Park Slope art lovers and urban planners — these versions of utopia are safe for the while family.

Kids are welcome to take part in a sky-gazing, daydreaming session with artist Kat Schneck or participate in a mural workshop with Triada Samaras on April 28, among other events.

Brooklyn Utopias at The Old Stone House [336 Third St. between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, Park Slope (718) 768-3195]. April 5, 6:30 pm. Visit www.brooklynutopias.wordpress.com.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.

Artist Will Pappenheimer’s Sky Mills image includes skywriting of windmills and drawings above the Old Stone House.
Photo provided by Katherine Gressel