When I first decided to volunteer my time to organizing Bushwick Open Studios, I foolishly assumed that I was joining a somewhat haphazard and chaotically managed enterprise. Admittedly, my rationalization for this conclusion was based on the persistent stereotype of artists as utterly disordered individuals who are prone to erratic behavior—a misperception which I know firsthand is not true. Nevertheless, it’s a hard one to ignore or correct. That characterization, coupled with a second false assumption on my part that BOS is run entirely by Bushwick artists, led me to believe that its one of those rare events that inexplicably comes together at the last minute.
Happily, this could not be farther from the truth. In fact, BOS happens with smashing success because a large number of smart, talented, detail-oriented, and responsible people—artists, arts administrators, and community members from all facets of life—come together several times a week many months ahead of time to meticulously hash out every. single. detail. From the bigger picture concepts to tedious minutiae, like handing out flyers on a rainy Saturday in April. Which is exactly what more than a handful of volunteers did last weekend. This year, it became clear to us (the BOS organizers and volunteers) that the unique development leading up to BOS deserves attention and recognition. So consider this post the first in a series of “backstage” features—what I will tag TCB stories—aimed at providing transparency to all that goes into executing BOS.
Last week, I met with roughly half our blog team to begin working on hub profiles. Each year, Bushwick businesses, cafes, art spaces, restaurants, etc, offer their locations as central meeting points where visitors can pick up maps, find lists of participating studios, see event schedules, and access other vital information needed for the weekend. Most often, the hubs are also highly involved in BOS, either hosting mixers, exhibiting their own shows, and/or helping to drum up excitement. The profiles shine a spotlight on the people behind the hubs and let everyone know what they’re up to this year for BOS.
To get started, we divided the nine hubs between the bloggers, sending each person off with 2-3 specific locations to profile. Photographers less keen on writing paired up with those with strong voices and vice versa. I encouraged our bloggers to conduct the profile interviews in person, but they didn’t need much—most were eager to be out and about, interacting with their community in person. Meer Musa, who is a local Bushwick photographer helping with the Blog, smartly brought his camera along and had a patron snap this picture of us at Little Skips (a BOS hub of course) and the one above. He also took a photograph saturated with rich color detailing the vibrant scene outside of the cafe. I couldn’t resist including it here.
In addition to the Blog meeting, last weekend a group of volunteers braved the windy rain to pass out flyers in the street Saturday afternoon. Meryl Meisler, another local Brooklyn photographer, took several photographs of the group being rewarded with pizza for their efforts. She also captured several candid images from the first mixer at Bodega’s Wine Bar.