We showed up at the “Actually it’s Ridgewood” art walk not knowing what to expect, aside from the free hotdogs. We were in luck, because in addition to the dogs, there was also beer, soda, chips AND awesome art.
Yes. Awesome art.
An acrimonious dispute over the boundary lines between the two townships had started as far back as 1661. “The feeling ran so high than men of one community would stone those of another.” To a large extent, the dispute reflected the conflict between the original Dutch settlers of Bushwick with the burgeoning English colonists of Newtown, New York.
Notice the white fence enshrining the rock. As you can see, not much has changed.
The event was sponsored by the Queens Museum of Art, and director Tom Finkelpearl explained why the neighborhood was chosen:
We then ventured inside the Onderdonk house
where we found this creepy pilgrim statue
and this map.
Tom Finkelpearl, director of the Queens Museum of Art (right) helped a young artist unfurl the flag of our borough, which we proudly paraded around the neighborhood as we set the record straight regarding our location.
Follow that flag!
First we hit up Parallel Artspace, where we saw “Step Up” by Gary Petersen
and “Content Drilldown,” by Andrew Zarou (a paper collage on spray-painted paper).
If you’ll notice, something about all the art we saw that day was very unified. We will henceforth refer to this as the “Ridgewood Style.”
The Outpost film collective hosted a film screening, also in the same building.
Our next stop was Regina Rex at 1717 Troutman St. room 329, for the work of Juan Gomez
and Jackie Gendel.
You know we can’t refuse screen printing, so we hit up Bushwick Print Lab (at 1717 Troutman Street #203-204 in RIDGEWOOD) to get some hot Queens Museum of Art apparel and give the lab a hard time about its name.
We took home the striped shirt. Don’t be jealous.
It was made by this master printer, hard at work with his silk screen.
We retired to the building’s ample roof deck to wait for our t-shirts to dry.
Then we hit the road and rolled on up to Valentine at 464 Seneca Ave. where we saw this piece by Charles Yuen.
These heads were also on display there,
as was this haunting work.
If you look closely at the bottom of this statue, you can see some Ridgewood pride in action.
We kept encountering different special occasions as we traversed the neighborhood. There was a huge engagement party at the Van-Ende Onderdonk House, then there was this, and at our final destination there was some sort of birthday party.
She’s holding an inflatable hammer fyi.
Our favorite gallery was Michelle Jaffe Studio at 852 Cypress Ave., where Jaffe had created an amazing installation of these knight-like steel face masks. If you put your head inside the masks, they whispered to you– creepy and wonderful, just the way we like it.
We got the artist to pose with her work, “Wappen Field.” Look for her at the SculptureCenter sometime soon–they would be fools not to give her a show.
This guy showed up at the next gallery, a basement space at 19-20 Palmetto St., called Small Black Door
this artwork also showed up
and this one
and this piece, which was our favorite Small Black Door showing. All the beer was gone by the time we got to the gallery, alas.
We reached our final destination, Gottscheer Hall, where we found an art historical installation. Apparently the hall has a contest every year to crown Ms. Gottshee. They then photograph the winner and enshrine her on the wall of the restaurant for eternity. Pick up your applications at 657 Fairview Ave.
At the bar, we had our first taste of spaetzle- basically it’s mac and cheese, though Germans will tell you otherwise. The brattwurst looked good as well, but the thought of another hotdog-like food item was unwelcome.
Upstairs we attended a symposium about the arts in Ridgewood. Things got kind of heated when the topic of race came up.
One man, who mentioned he was the only black person in the room, spoke up and said that he would have had no idea about the event if it weren’t for facebook. He asked the artistic organizations why they didn’t make more of an effort to reach out to the surrounding community through flyers.
People got defensive, but it was agreed that diversifying was a shared goal.
To editorialize for a moment, the event would not have had nearly as much press as it did if it were simply a neighborhood event. The reason Ridgewood is starting to get noticed, even by the Queens Museum of Art, is because it has garnered attention in the arts mecca that is Manhattan.
In order to attract citywide arts institutions and visitors (even from within the neighborhood), a more concerted effort needs to be made to publicize events like this one by the larger New York City arts community.
This event was totally fun, with way more perks than one would find at most city arts events (just try to get a free beer at the Brooklyn Musem, we dare you)– at the end of the trek we even got free cds. Still, the event wasn’t as well attended as it should have been in our opinion, and flyers might have helped. Hang things in laundromats and get translators. That’s our advice.
Also, in his video address to the group at the start of the art walk, Finkelpearl said he doesn’t see artists gentrifying the neighborhood as they might in other areas, because most people in Ridgewood own their homes. While the process of gentrification may be slightly different than what happens in other neighborhoods,
these look like the faces of gentrification to us, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing?
At the symposium, Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Property Owners Association, spoke up in favor of the artistic organizations, telling them they were “welcome” in the community. Though Kerzner, middle-aged, clean and well dressed, did not exactly fit in with the hipster crowd, he was excited and ready for change.