Mar 1, 2016
The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture
by the Editors
That Brooklyn has an abundance of creatively minded and culturally significant residents is not really
news—this has long been the case. Now though, the borough feels more than ever like a cultural nexus,
wherein once marginalized voices and outsider perspectives are now a major part of our cultural
conversation. And so what better time to celebrate some of the many people who are shaping Brooklyn culture
today, those people responsible for the words we want to read, the films we want to
see, the music we want to hear, the art we want to experience, the spaces we want to inhabit. Everyone on this list creates, directs, or
provides a platform for the type of work that continues to make Brooklyn not just culturally relevant,
but culturally vital. And we thank them for it.
President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music
Named president of BAM in 2015, Clark (formerly president of Orchestra of St.
Luke’s) was an exciting choice to head one of Brooklyn’s seminal cultural institutions.
It’s a monumental job which involves coordinating a team of hundreds, and building
relationships with artists in Brooklyn and beyond, all facets of why BAM has
become a globally recognized destination for innovative productions in everything
from theater, music, dance, and more. Plus, as a musician herself, Clark is
particularly well-suited to understanding the importance of vibrant
performances—especially for local, culture-loving audiences.
006 ANNE PASTERNAK
Director of the Brooklyn Museum
Appointed director of the Brooklyn Museum just last year, Pasternak is the first woman
to head one of New York’s major art institutions, and is surrounded by other powerful
women on the museum’s board. Pasternak came to the Museum from public art
powerhouse Creative Time, where she oversaw some of the prolific company’s most
impactful installations, like Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” which famously took over the
Domino Sugar Factory in 2014. Expect similarly big things for the Brooklyn Museum
under Pasternak’s tenure. We definitely do.
007 NABIL AYERS
Label Manager of 4AD
New York native Nabil Ayers, knows, plays, and spreads good and up-and-coming music. A musician and drummer in his own right, Ayers runs album campaigns for the likes of the National, Grimes, Future Islands, and tUnE-yArDs. On the side, Ayers
created his own label, The Control Group, through which he’s unearthed beautiful gems like El Perro Del Mar, Cate Le Bon, and Alice Boman. Ayers seems to have an unlimited supply of musical tricks up his sleeve, so we look forward to hearing what he
has in store for us next.
008 Jenna Wortham
staff writer for the New York Times Magazine
Wortham started off as a tech writer at the
Times but has more recently been at the Times Magazine, wherein she writes about a wide range of topics, and has been
particularly notable on the topics of grieving in the age of social media (please don’t
even bother to try and get through this without crying) and Beyoncé’s “Formation”
video (which, honestly, don’t even bother to try and get through this without crying
either). Simply put: Wortham is who we want to read on everything, all the time.
009 Leslie Schultz
President of BRIC
From mounting gargantuan group shows of hundreds of artists at once to more
intimately curated exhibitions and collaborative projects, BRIC President Leslie Schultz
and her curatorial colleagues, including standouts like Jenny Gerow, do quite a lot to
showcase the work of Brooklyn artists. They also do a lot to help any and all
interested parties to acquire new creative skill sets through their workshops and well
New York Times film critic
Park Slope Food Co-op member A.O. Scott wields the power to shape mainstream
consensus, to define for a large and varied nonspecialist readership what viewing
habits, and what attitudes, constitute enlightened moviegoing. This is not just down
to his platform at the Times, but also because Scott’s criticism—lucid, witty,
sensible—makes him the perfect ambassador. It’s not surprising that with his
high-profile new book, Better Living Through Criticism, he’s turned to advocating for
his entire profession.
011 DEVIN WASHBURN
Art Director at Lucky Peach
Devin Washburn is the Brooklyn-based Art Director of Lucky Peach, a food magazine that, since being created by Momofuku’s David Chang in 2011, has taken food art, photography, and journalism to an entirely new—and wholly unexpected—level. Since joining the team at Lucky Peach, Washburn has helped continue to push the envelope with LP’s signature zany style and helped share Brooklyn’s food scene with the world.
012 ASHLEY FORD
Once you hear a voice like Ashley Ford’s, you don’t forget it. An essential part of over 30,000 readers Twitter feeds and an essayist whose bravery, honesty, and generosity astound, she’s currently writing for Elle and Lenny Letter as well as working on a memoir. Her love for Kenny Loggins is unwavering.
013 ATRAK, MUSICIAN
Aside from a successful solo career of his own as a musician, DJ, and producer, Atrak is one of the driving forces behind Brooklyn’s extremely influential rap and dance focused label Fool’s Gold. From Danny Brown to World’s Fair, we have Atrak and his team to thank for supporting fellow artists.
014, 015 & 016 ANTONIO CAMPOS (pictured), SEAN DURKIN,
Antonio Campos’s Christine, which recently premiered at Sundance, is another formally assured, jarring drama from the Borderline boys, three friends from film school who produce each other’s work, including Mond’s James White and Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene. They’ve recently branched out into executive producing via their Borderline Presents label, which unveiled The Eyes of My Mother at Sundance—another beautifully shot shocker, a further extension of their singular sensibility.
017 ANNIE BAKER
Responsible for some of the most profound theatrical events in recent memory, Baker is a truly exceptional artist, whose work transports us to places—including the farthest reaches of our brains—where we didn’t know we could go. Watching her latest, John, was described by our theater critic, Dan Callahan, as being akin to “setting out to sea in a small craft with the scenes rising up like islands.” In a word: Transformative.
018 JASON PARHAM
Jason Parham is the founder and editor-in-chief of Spook, a gorgeous literary magazine dedicated to furthering the cultural conversation by spotlighting alternative voices since 2012. He is also veteran writer and editor with experience at publications like Complex and Gawker, and is currently a senior editor at The Fader.
019 DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER
Author of the Bone Street Rumba series (most recently Midnight Taxi Tango) and the YA novel Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older melds a career of writing Brooklyn-based fantasy and noir with urgent and persuasive literary activism, as seen in his essays and his Twitter feed. He also worked as a New York City paramedic for decade—ask him for his medical license, he’ll show it to you.
As the critic-at-large for New York Magazine,
Browne continues to build on his legacy as a sharp-witted,
playful and incisive voice on everything from slapstick comedy to race relations.
He has established himself as one of the most important
and relatable critical voices in our generation,
with a sensibility that is incredibly welcome in
our frequently insensible times.
021 JASON KOO
Executive Director of Brooklyn Poets
It’s no coincidence that Brooklyn Poets was founded by Koo on May 31, 2012—it’s Walt Whitman’s birthday. Through Brooklyn Poets, Koo has created a homegrown community of support for the sometimes marginalized literary art form through things like workshops, reading series, and the like.
022 PAOLA PRESTINI
Executive and Artistic Director at National Sawdust
Before coming on board at Williamsburg’s new experimental venue National Sawdust, Prestini had an illustrious career as a musician and composer (she was named one of the top 100 composers in the world under the age of 40 by NPR); now, though, Prestini is an a position to profoundly influence how we experience music and performance in a whole new way.
023 MICHELLE LEGRO
Culture Editor The New Republic
Since Michelle Legro took over culture at The New Republic, the magazine’s section has become a must-read: publishing writers like Michelle Dean on Robert Lowell and Alexander Chee on historical fiction and Maxwell Neely-Cohen on NBA Twitter. Formerly of Lapham’s Quarterly, every history and literature nerd’s favorite magazine, she also turned heads when she created My Daguerreotype Boyfriend, featuring hunks from former centuries.
024 TIM CLANCY
Co-Executive Producer of VICE HBO
Clancy heads up the Emmy-winning international documentary series which investigates pressing global stories, including things like Taliban-supported child suicide bombers, the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and the refugee trail in Europe from Syria. In short, Clancy leads the direction of some of the most intelligent international reporting produced to date.
025 RIC LEICHTUNG
founder of AdHoc
Right when we thought we’d seen enough of Ric–the Market Hotel announced they were opening their doors again after five long years. Ric and his events collective, AdHoc, are (of course) attached to the famed venue, ensuring it boasts a calendar worthy of it’s name. AdHoc is already everywhere–but now the AdHoc zine is back in print as well, with New Yorker cartoonists now contributing to it’s pages.
026 & 027 DONNA MOSSMAN & ESTEBAN GIRON
Crown Heights Tenant Union
Mossman is a founding member of the Crown Heights Tenant Union, Giron is a member and leader in the CHTU who started the Court Solidarity Committee. Working together they are fighting gentrification by educating tenants on their rights and organizing tenant associations building by building, block by block. CHTU is unique in that it unites new and old residents of Crown Heights to push back against harassment, illegal displacement and win tenant control over rental housing in the neighborhood.
028 LINDSAY ZOLADZ
writer, music critic
Winner of the 2016 American Society of Magazine Editors “Next Award” for journalist under 30, Lindsay Zoldaz can break down David Bowie with the best of them. Smart, thoughtful, curious, her work at New York Magazine embodies the best of cultural criticism.
029 RACHAEL RAKES
As co-editor of the film section of the Brooklyn Rail, a curator of formally and politically radical art shows, and a curator whose highest-profile recent gig is the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s genre-defining-and-defying Art of the Real documentary showcase, Rakes is working to push the dialogue around the moving image into a more flexible, expansive place.
Editor-in-Chief The Fader
It’s unfortunately rare to see women at the very top of the masthead
in publications that aren’t specifically focused on “women’s issues”;
rarer still is to see a woman under the age of 30 reach
such heights. But, lucky for us, Zeichner is that rare case;
since becoming editor-in-chief of The Fader a little over a year ago (she’d previously been at BuzzFeed),
Zeichner has consistently published some of the most
interesting writing on music out there now,
and has assembled an enviable team of some of the best journalists—music and
031 AMANDA PETRUSICH
As a professor at NYU’s Gallatin School, a prominent critical voice in The New Yorker and Pitchfork, and the author of a book about rare records, Do Not Sell At Any Price, Amanda Petrusich is a towering force of grace and encouragement in New York music and criticism circles. Between mentoring emerging voices and writing with discernment about music’s most important figures, Petrusich is helping shape Brooklyn culture from the ground up.
032 CHRISTOPHER STOUT
gallerist, artist, curator
Artist, curator and all-around arts promoter Christopher Stout has created quite a community of enthusiastic creatives through Bushwick Art Crit Group, and he recently expanded and focused that network at once by opening his own art space, Christopher Stout Gallery NY—where the operative aesthetic in general might most simply be called ‘anything but easy.’ And that rules.
033 CONSCIOUS WALKER
founder Bondfire Radio
Conscious Walker and his colleagues at Bondfire Radio flood the airwaves with a steady mix of musical programming, to be sure, but also with rich discussions pertaining to community pride and cultural awareness. The good work they do requires lots of energy and just as much love. Check them out, tune in, listen up.
034 DOREEN ST. FELIX
Native Brooklynite Doreen St. Felix writes and edits for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, the New Yorker, the New York Times, and Pitchfork, among others. Her essay, “The Prosperity Gospel of Rihanna,” is definitive; her Twitter is all fire tweets.
035 CYBELE MAYLONE
Executive Director of UrbanGlass
As head of UrbanGlass—the largest public glass studio in the United States, and the only of its kind in New York City—Maylone has led the organization through the final stages of renovating its building in the heart of Fort Greene. Today UrbanGlass is home to a gallery, store, and over 300 artists and designers, working in everything from glassblowing to neon. Maylone supports artists who push the boundaries of what is possible in glass, and challenges the public to think critically about the materials that are all around us.
036 JASON DIAMOND
writer, editor, party-thrower
Founder of Vol. 1 Brooklyn and co-creator (with BOMB Magazine’s Ryan Chapman) of the epic book world party, The Mingle, sometimes it seems that Jason Diamond is everywhere in literary Brooklyn—and that’s a good thing. Keep an eye out for his new book, Searching for John Hughes.
037 ANDRE D. SINGLETON
The Very Black Project
The celebration of being unapologetically black and proud is at the core of The Very Black Project, a social activism group (and T-shirt company!) headed up by Singleton and co-founder Justin Fulton. The duo’s pro-black initiative promotes self-love by reclaiming black culture, empowering a disenfranchised community, and starting a dialogue as to what exactly “blackness” means.
038 JOANA VICENTE
Executive Director, IFP
The Independent Filmmaker Project offers soup-to-nuts support for narrative, nonfiction and transmedia indie projects alike. It’s technically possible that a film could be nurtured through IFP’s array of project forums and conferences, markets, development labs and production grants; have a theatrical run at their Made in NY Media Center in DUMBO; receive coverage in their respected in-house publication Filmmaker magazine; and be celebrated at their annual Gotham Awards.
039 KEN CHEN
NPoet (he won the Yale Younger Poet award), essayist (his work has been featured in Best American Essays), lawyer (also ratified by a professional body), Ken Chen is a master of multitasking. In his role at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, he works as a relentless advocate for writers of color in the book world.
editor at the New York Times Magazine
Hughes first came on our radar a few years ago as a reliably smart and
funny Twitter presence whose writing we found engaging, thought-provoking, and
often hilarious. Before long, Hughes was an assistant editor at
the Hairpin, where it seemed like just about everything she wrote was immensely,
deservedly popular; a blink of an eye later, and she was off to the New York
where she’s making her mark writing about Danny Devito among other important things.
Beyond the fact that Hughes is doing great for herself at a
really young age (like, really young), she’s also a huge advocate to other young writers,
and is co-founder of Writers of Color, a group that makes it impossible for
editors to say they don’t hire writers of color because they
“don’t know where to find them.”
Executive Director of the National Book Foundation
The book world rose up in a chorus of celebration
when Lisa Lucas, formerly the publisher of Guernica, was appointed
executive director of the National Book Foundation.
At the helm of the 30-year-old organization, she plans to expand
its efforts towards inclusivity and advocacy.
“Readers are everything,” she recently told the New York Times,
“readers are everyone.”
Artist Relations Manager at Genius
Longtime hip-hop journalist Markman joined the team at annotation powerhouse
Genius (formerly Rap Genius) not long ago and serves as the artist relations manager;
basically, this means that Markman now facilitates a better connection,
with clearer than ever before communication, between artist and audience, i.e.
we now get to know exactly what Pusha T was thinking when he wrote “Grindin.”
artist, Director of Idio Gallery
Montana Simone has been pouring lots of time and energy into making Idio Gallery a bustling new Bushwick locus for art
exhibitions and happenings, and it’s really been paying off of late.
Certain basement performances have proven particularly indelible. Keep Montana and
Idio on your radar.
Oral historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society
As oral historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society,
Ali is in charge of recording those voices that might not otherwise have been heard.
It’s an essential part of the preservation of our past;
without Ali, and people like him,
it would be easy to imagine a future Brooklyn decontextualized from its start.
Director of Editorial Operations at Pitchfork, Show Organizer
How do you end up writing all things music for Pitchfork, curating the same for
MoMA PS1, launching a music fest like Basilica Soundscape in Hudson, AND
collaborating with artists like Matthew Barney?
Start making zines when you’re young and then write tirelessly about music.
In sum, work hard and never forget where you came from. METAL.
Executive Director of Creative Time
Newly appointed as the head of influential art nonprofit Creative
Time, Hollander is sure to bring big things to the world of public art.
Hollander’s been at Creative Time for eight years, during which time CT has
staged work like Kara Walker’s now iconic “A Subtlety.”
Look for her first big project, Duke Riley’s “Fly by Night,”
which will comprise “a series of performances featuring a massive flock of pigeons
flying in elegant harmony in the evening sky above the East River,”
this May at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We can’t wait.
photos by Jane Bruce, Daniel Dorsa, Darcy Rogers, Maggie Shannon, Nicole Fara Silver