Storefront Bushwick: Art, Open to the Street

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Artist Deborah Brown had lived in New York since the early 80s, but it was not until 2006, when Brown was helping her niece move, that she first visited Bushwick. Brown tells us, “At that time, the blocks around the Jefferson stop were deserted and forbidding—boarded-up factories, weed-strewn lots, and little foot traffic. Eating dinner that night at the Northeast Kingdom, I had one of those ‘Aha!’ moments when I realized that this area held immense potential for an artist. For me, Bushwick was the undiscovered country, and I wanted to go in search of what it had to offer. Three weeks later I signed the contract to buy a vacant factory building on Stockholm Street to renovate as my studio, and that was the beginning of the Brooklyn chapter in my artistic life.”

That chapter is ongoing and has culminated in Brown’s gallery Storefront Bushwick and in her involvement in the Bushwick art scene through things like Bushwick Open Studios. Brown finds working in Bushwick to be a singular and rewarding experience and says, “Brooklyn offers artists the freedom to break out of established hierarchies and create new models for visual art, performance, dance, theater or new music. In programming the shows for Storefront Bushwick, I mix the work of young artists with that of more established artists, something that would be hard to do in a more commercially-driven, stratified art environment like Chelsea.” Brown’s investment in the community is obvious—even her rescue dog Trout is from Bushwick, she found him on Troutman Street. Brown knows that being a part of such a vibrant, collaborative community is essential for her practice, saying, “Seeing so much good artwork by my peers sets a high bar and makes me work harder—as an artist, as a curator and as a gallerist. Close to home, I am inspired by my block where my neighbors on Stockholm Street share what they have with each other and look out for one another. These long-time community members helped hold Bushwick together in tougher times. They inspire me and give me an appreciation of Bushwick’s history.”


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