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

for The Brooklyn Paper
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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.

Updated 10:10 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

diehipster from still-normal south Brooklyn says:
Kentile sign back drop - check
Picture of graffiti - check
Gowanus canal - check
Art - check
Drooling over gritty industrial streets - check

Did I miss anything?

I love these repetitive stories! More please! Tomorrow just change the "artist's" name to Hayden, the neighborhood to Bushwick, and the focus on latte foam happy faces. These people are so effing boring already. Yet some still like to use the words 'vibrant, youthful and creative' to describe them. What a joke!

See you at the moustache waxing booth at Shmorgusburg in Ye Olde Villumsborgue! First round of artisanal hand crafted ales is on me!
May 10, 2013, 8:05 am
taylor from clinton hill says:
The only thing worse than hipsters that think they're rad is somebody who thinks he sounds so authentic and above others by railing on hipsters. Your cries fall on deaf ears; we're over hipsters and we're especially over making fun of them. Both unoriginal. Sit and complain from your "still normal" neighborhood or go do something positive. Which I need to do as well - why the hell am I wasting my time on a comment in this BS paper? shoot me.
May 10, 2013, 9:07 am
taylor from clinton hill says:
The only thing worse than hipsters that think they're rad is somebody who thinks he sounds so authentic and above others by railing on hipsters. Your cries fall on deaf ears; we're over hipsters and we're especially over making fun of them. Both unoriginal. Sit and complain from your "still normal" neighborhood or go do something positive. Which I need to do as well - why the hell am I wasting my time on a comment in this BS paper? shoot me.
May 10, 2013, 9:07 am
Jimmy from Prospect Heights says:
Seriously, diehipster, how sad are you?
May 10, 2013, 9:22 am
o3 from bk says:
if that dude's a hipster, i'll eat my fedora.
May 10, 2013, 11:14 am
ty from pps says:
Everyone that isn't diehipster is a hipster. It's this twisted, pathetic reality that he's created. "Real Brooklyn" seems to be more like North Korea than Brooklyn.
May 10, 2013, 11:48 am
Harriet from Brooklyn says:
Ethan gets so quiet on these threads about art.
May 11, 2013, 3:28 pm
Ethan Pettit from Park Slope says:
Whoever the Ethan is who's gone quiet on art, it could not have been me. I'm glad to see people are painting this area, because we need more open-air painting of the Brooklyn landscape. Gowanus especially. One day that whole "Kentile Valley" of the Gowanus delta will be a verdant sprawl of hydroponic gardens, bike lanes, and carbon-neutral bungalows. That too will be awesome to behold. But it's important to confront the present industrial landscape, because that landscape is part of the bohemian imaginary. It is not just about recording history, you can use a camera for that. But when you paint the Brooklyn industrial landscape, you engage a discourse of art and Brooklyn that is specific and resonant. Authenticity resides in the gritty landscape and makes for a good picture. But authenticity equally as much resides in the thoughts and feelings that attach to that landscape and make for the character and sensibility of the Brooklyn art scene. Specifically, of the social history of Brooklyn art. I see this as an aesthetic event, which I call "the bohemian imaginary". Thank you, Natalie Musumeci, for writing this up. I'll be sure to check out the show.
May 13, 2013, 8:16 pm

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