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Danielle De Jesus’s ‘Made in Bushwick’ at the Living Gallery

Bushwick native uses art and Etch-A-Sketch to fight gentrification

The Brooklyn Paper
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A homegrown Bushwick artist is hoping to etch out some space for her neighborhood’s old school population.

Danielle DeJesus, who was born in Woodhull Medical Center in 1987, has seen the best and the worst of Bushwick. The artist said she has watched the neighborhood transition from a rough and tumble but tight-knit community of Latinos toward a high-priced playground for artists and transplants.

Now, De Jesus is celebrating and documenting the fading face of the neighborhood in a new one-woman exhibition. “Made in Bushwick,” which will be at the Living Gallery on April 2, highlights photos, paintings, and even Etch-A-Sketch art she has made of people and places in her home ’hood. Ideally, DeJesus said she hopes her work inspires activists to slow the change. But at the very least, she will have an archive of what will eventually be Bushwick past.

“I am trying to preserve what I have left of what I grew up with,” said De Jesus.

De Jesus, who grew up on Jefferson Street, said she started documenting the neighborhood when she was a sophomore at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She began by taking portrait shots of her neighbors, who had started moving out of Bushwick in droves. One of De Jesus’s professors saw the power in the photographs and encouraged her to keep working on the project.

“I had an emotional connection to the work,” said De Jesus, who also focuses on still-life shots and portraits of skateboarders around the city.

De Jesus said she has spent the last decade helping her mother stay in her rent stabilized apartment on Jefferson Street, as the landlord has pushed out all the other tenants. Her mother is now secure knowing that she can stay in her apartment, but that does not stop the landlord from constantly knocking on her door and offering her money to move out. De Jesus moved out into a more expensive apartment, and said she now worries that she might have turned into a gentrifier herself.

“I almost do not fit into what Bushwick once was and it breaks my heart,” she said.

“Made in Bushwick” at the Living Gallery [1094 Broadway at Dodworth Street, in Bushwick, (631) 377–1998, www.the-living-gallery.com]. April 2 at 6 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Posted 12:00 am, March 26, 2015
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I guess if building enough housing for NYC's growing population is off the table, you might as well try Etch-A-Sketch.
March 26, 2015, 4:50 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Well, let's just hope that there isn't an earthquake in Buswick any time soon. All of her work will be destroyed, if you don't mind the suggestion.
March 26, 2015, 5:07 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
God bless this woman. I too used to live in bushwick on jefferson & knickerbocker. Its crazy how these new heads are coming into bushwick & other parts of bk are constanly driving up housing costs by simply just being here all the while pushing out long timers. Something needs to be done asap.
March 26, 2015, 10:29 pm
Jay Liquori from Sunset Park native says:
you can't stop people from wanting to live somewhere but us as a society can stop people from being forced out. Laws and protection to keep people in their homes and neighborhoods are not strong enough
March 27, 2015, 7:40 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
Gentrification by Bushwick hispanic....Doesnt surprise me.
Get educated beyond a HS diploma or GED and be part of it all.
March 27, 2015, 7:55 am
BSS from PSS says:
Someone call her a waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhmbulance.
March 27, 2015, 8:46 am
Danielle DeJesus from Bushwick says:
Actually Bkmanatman, I am educated beyond a HS diploma and I did not need a GED. Maybe you should learn to read AND comprehend, this way you'd realize that the article states that I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. I currently have a great job in the career I chose to go to school for as well. It makes me happy to read comments from ignorant people such as yourself, because nothing brings me more pride than to make you look like a complete moron.
March 27, 2015, 9:13 am
jjm from c. hill says:
These clowns living in bushwick now dont even acknowledge anyone that looks like they've been there for the long haul. They'll walk down the block & have a conversation with their dog then say hello to any locals. Crazy smh.
March 27, 2015, 9:25 am
travis davneport from all over says:
I'm really proud of you Danielle! all your hard work and commitment to the community is an inspiration! People loosing there homes is never a good thing although evolution can be, knowing that you are apart of that and not ignorant to the history only makes you an even more valuable part of the hood! Keep doing you babe, the world needs a lot more of it!
March 27, 2015, 1:50 pm
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
Danielle! I think you are over-reading a simple statement. All I said get educated BEYOND HS DIPLOMA and GED and become a part of it all.

In other words not all natives like yourself have been able to mesh well with gentrifiers. Instead of rejecting the newcomers you've found a way to get along.
March 27, 2015, 3:34 pm
zzg from nyc says:
I was born and spent my early years in Bushwick myself. Instead of waxing nostalgic for the "rough-and-tumble" nature of the disappearing Bushwick (read - crime, drug-dealing, muggings, rapes, murders, massive urban decay) you should be celebrating the rebirth of a neighborhood the size of a medium-sized American city which was first developed to be a community for working class, middle class and even wealthy families. What happened to Bushwick post-WWII was the real aberration, now it's back on its intended trajectory.
March 27, 2015, 7:59 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Hey zzg, neighborhoods like Bushwick improved themse4lves, without imports. The area improved but only after that did the central time zone imports who move in to "live the dream" or whatever they call it. They carry their suburban trappings with them and would much rather order some nasty factory pre-made thing from Subway than go to a local deli which makes something a thousand times better but - ooooo so scary they're speaking Spanish in there!!! Small neighborhood businesses get f-worded because those transplants overpay for apartments and bring their suburban fear with them all the while thinking they're being progressive with their artesenal beard cruelty-free gluten-free beard shampoo.

These places improved themselves, and then had their success stolen out from under them.
March 28, 2015, 2:31 pm
zzg from nyc says:
Hey Jim
I make a point about a neighborhood returning to its original plan as a economically diverse and thriving community and the only response you give me is the usual slew of adolescent stereotypes about out-of-town hipster-types. When I was a kid in Bushwick almost 60 years ago now there were middle class people from different parts of the country living there. One neighbor was from West Virginia, my own mom was from Western Pennsylvania. You're all upset that some newcomers don't patron bodegas. Big deal, that's none of your business. Strong economic diversity and a safe environment means freedom of choice.
March 29, 2015, 3:51 pm

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