Williamsburgh Bank Building; A Work of Art

Wherever artist Robert Goldstrom walked in Brooklyn he could not get away from that tower.

Poking through the borough’s skyline, visible at odd angles and corners, the Williamsburg Savings Bank building (1 Hanson Place, Downtown Brooklyn) seemed ever present when Goldstrom strolled through Prospect Heights, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, and his own neighborhood in Clinton Hill.

After moving to New York in 1979, where he worked as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines, eight years ago, he began painting streetscapes that included different views of the iconic bank building.

“The bank chose me,” said Goldstrom on the second floor of a cozy Clinton Hill brownstone. “After being here so long, it’s a fascinating thing like a tree or a mountain. It is up in the sky, it emits steam, it’s silhouette disappears in the fog, half of it is in shadows. It’s a great thing.”

With the relocation of the popular Brooklyn Flea market to the ground floor of the Williamsburgh Bank, an opportunity presented itself. Goldstrom’s partner, David Sokosh, has been selling restored antique clocks at the Flea at his Clinton Hill Clocks booth, and now several of Goldstrom’s canvasses featuring realistic representations of the bank will be available there for sale.

New towers in Brooklyn have not interested him that much. He eschews them for the classic shape of the bank’s clock tower. Not that it has been that easy to paint the bank, according to Goldstrom.

For several years, he had avoided painting buildings because of the difficulty of recreating the windows and edges of the tower exactly right, which he compared to architectural drafting.

“I started painting the crown, with the dome against the sky. It wasn’t enough. It was almost like I was cheating,” said Goldstrom. “When I started to paint the building in its environment, I loosened up and it started to work.”

So far, he has painted 120 views of the building, with its hard edges and realistic impressions. His favorite view? The parking garage at the Albee Square Mall, which was torn down in 2007.

“Many views are not literal, but the more literal the title, the more literal the view,” said Goldstrom.

Goldstrom believes that the combination of clock tower paintings and antique clocks that predate the Williamsburgh Bank at the Brooklyn Flea will entice visitors and Brooklynites alike.

“I’ve always wanted to have an exhibition in the bank,” said Goldstrum. “Now that the Flea is in the bank building, it’s even better.”

The Brooklyn Flea is located inside the Williamsburgh Bank Building in Downtown Brooklyn at 1 Hanson Place on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Goldstrum and Sokosh’s wares are located in booth #28. For more information, visit http://www.brooklynflea.com.