Talking With Benjamin Sutton, Metro Editor at Hyperallergic

Photo by Kyle Depew/ Brooklyn Historical Society
Photo by Kyle Depew/
Brooklyn Historical Society

“The concentration of galleries and non-profit spaces in Bushwick has made it so that I can spend a whole weekend day gallery-hopping, see 15 very different and strong exhibitions, and never set foot in Manhattan,” says Sutton, Metro Editor at Hyperallergic (and former editor at our sister publication The L Magazine). “A drawback is that when asked about the future of art in Brooklyn all I can think to talk about is real estate doom-and-gloom. No but really, I don’t know if it’s a drawback or a benefit, but I think Brooklyn artists’ simultaneous hyperawareness of gentrification and yet general incapability of coming up with ways of slowing real estate developers’ march across North Brooklyn (as well as other areas, though North Brooklyn is really ground zero for this) is both fascinating and at times so intensely preoccupying that it eclipses the actual art.”

“I think Brooklyn’s place and role in the art world right now is about to undergo a major shift. For years all the talk has been about how every young artist graduating from a BFA or MFA program and who can afford to is moving to Brooklyn, and before that the narrative was that every successful Manhattan artist who needed more space moved out to Brooklyn. That era, the “Brooklyn as haven for artists” period, reached its apex with the early years of Bushwick Open Studios (and similar events in DUMBO, Gowanus, Greenpoint, and elsewhere). But I think the increased prominence of galleries, pop-up exhibitions, art fairs, and festivals during those events, which are supposed to be about visiting artists’ studios and talking about their work, is a harbinger of things to come.

Brooklyn will still be a popular destination for artists, and I think neighborhoods like Sunset Park, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Red Hook will remain studio strongholds for a long time, but the forces of the art market and real estate industry are going to transform neighborhoods like Bushwick, Greenpoint, and Gowanus in much the same way they’ve already changed DUMBO and Williamsburg. For some people these changes are really exciting—there are more galleries to visit, more artists getting opportunities to show their work in professional settings, more bars to head to after openings—and others see this as tantamount to their neighborhoods being sold out from under them.”


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