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Explore new art featuring Pride, Portals, Dreams and more at BWAC’s summer show

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‘Portals,’ the exhibition of works by BWAC’s member artists, invites viewers to enter new worlds and new perspectives via artwork.
S. Cooper/Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition

The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition is kicking off their summer season with five new exhibitions opening on June 18.

The cavernous waterfront collective used to host just two or three shows per year, said BWAC president Alicia Degener, but since the pandemic, they’re producing shorter, more frequent exhibitions. 

In the spring, the space was decked out in work about nature and the environment, watercolors, and Ukraine, as BWAC started a brand-new fundraising endeavor — 50% of the money raised from sales from the Ukraine show were donated to the United Nations, and the effort was “amazingly popular,” according to Degener.

textile piece for wide open at brooklyn waterfront artists coalition/BWAC
“Wide Open 12,” a nationwide exhibition curated by a Brooklyn-based judge, features paintings, drawings, sculptures and textiles by artists around the U.S. Juliana Er/Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition

BWAC’s summer season is grounded by an old favorite — “Wide Open,” a national juried exhibition accepting, as the title suggests, art of all kinds. The gallery has participated in Wide Open for twelve years running, and this year’s selection of pieces was curated by Brooklyn-based judge Sadaf Padder. 

The summer show also features work from BWAC’s resident member artists, who created work around the theme “Portals.” Each piece presents a chance for viewers to treat the artwork as a portal, a threshold to a new world or dimension, and explore new spaces and perspectives.

At the suggestion of one of BWAC’s art administrators, the summer show features a Pride-themed exhibition titled “They/She/He.” It’s the first time the organization has held a show specifically featuring LGBTQ+ artists, just in time for Pride month, and features artwork by local photographer Sarah Baley.

painting of a doorway with tables and chairs at BWAC
“Portals,” the exhibition of works by BWAC’s member artists, invites viewers to enter new worlds and new perspectives via artwork. J. Hammer/Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition

“We have about 30 artists, all who associate with LGBTQI, as well as Sarah Baley,” Degener said. “She’s the featured artist, it’s called ‘A Woman’s Gaze,’ and it’s like a spinoff of something 20 years ago, the male-dominated photographers who did a wife’s gaze.”

Half of the proceeds of sales of “They/She/He” will be donated to the Ali Forney Center, a New York City-based nonprofit that supports homeless LGBTQ+ youth, and those donations will be matched by GAP, Inc., Degener’s employer.

The other two exhibits come from opposite ends of the country. “Dreams Beyond Reason” is a small solo show from Flint, Michigan-based artist Emily Legleitner, who won the opportunity for a solo show after she was awarded “Best of Show” in BWAC’s 2020 nationwide exhibition.

In dreamy woodcuts, Legleitner explores time and aging and the relationship those concepts have in the home, labor, familial lineage, and aspirations.

Finally, BWAC has partnered with Good Neighbors of Park Slope’s Art Group to display artwork created by Brooklyn seniors in a variety of mediums. Good Neighbors supports older Brooklynites who are aging in place — getting older in the neighborhoods they’ve always lived in and loved.

wood carving of a boat in pink, blue and orange
Artist Emily Legleitner won “Best in Show” in 2020, earning her a solo exhibition at BWAC this summer. Emily Legleitner/Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition

The organization connects seniors with their communities and with activities they enjoy — and the Art Group highlights the creativity and vibrancy of those seniors.

“Our mission is to give artists the space to exhibit,” Degener said. “BWAC is for everyone, we’re very inclusive, we want people to come and feel welcome. It’s not an intimidating environment in any way. Everyone has a voice and a vision.”

Saturday’s opening party will feature BWAC staff dressed up in rainbow outfits and rainbow drinks for Pride, plus a live jazz singer and, of course, views of the beautiful Red Hook waterfront.

The opening reception for BWAC’s summer exhibitions is Sat. June 18, 1-6 p.m., at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition at 141 Van Brunt St. in Red Hook. The exhibitions will be on display every Saturday and Sunday, 1-6 p.m., until July 17. Visit BWAC’s website for more information.

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