950 Hart: Community and Art

I got a chance to sit down with Michael Kronenberg and Sean Alday of 950 Hart and discuss with them how and why they ended up in Bushwick over any other neighborhood, what excites them about it, and what trials and tribulations come with inhabiting an old warehouse while simultaneously running a business and moderating couch-surfers. I’d also requested an interview from the (in)famous new Bushwick mega gallery, Luhring Augustine, about why they’d moved to Bushwick, and got a simple reply that they were “seeking warehouse space, the neighborhood is easily accessible to the Williamsburg bridge and the LIE, and that there are great buildings in the neighborhood.”

JH: Were you in Bushwick first, and then decided to start the gallery?

MK: Yeah, I came here first and then we started.

JH: What made you end up here?

MK: I came out here to get as much space as possible for as cheap as possible. I had a friend who was very savvy about Brooklyn neighborhoods, and he said I should really move to Brooklyn because it’s ridiculously cheap. He said ‘there’s those big loft buildings off the Dekalb stop,’ and when I got here it was the middle of nowhere. That was 8 years ago. The building I moved into was in rough shape. The L train was pretty unreliable. There was a lot of space. I sat on the floor and thought ‘I could rollerblade around here!’ and it was the same price as some 200 square foot studio in Manhattan. C-Town used to be stocked with huge bags of rice and beans, now they have sushi and organic stuff. It’s really changed.

JH: Did it seem like a promising neighborhood for the arts?

MK: No, I had no idea Bushwick would ever be on the map. It was so isolated. It seemed like a good place to go and disappear.

JH: Is there another neighborhood that fills that criteria right now?

MK: Maybe Ridgewood, or just farther out east.

SA: Places off the J train, I think.

JH: What about clients getting out here to buy work?

MK: One of the problems is how you get the people with money out here to Bushwick. 56 Bogart is starting to do that, you can see the line of car services outside of the building, because some of these people aren’t going to sit around waiting for the L train.

SA: Yeah, I was bar tending the NUTUREart benefit the other night, and it was amazing to see gallerists from the other galleries in the building grabbing collectors and dragging them down the hall to their space.

JH: Do you plan on moving somewhere cheaper, or changing the business around at all, since you have all these loft law issues here?

MK: Yeah, we’re looking into our options.

SA: Instead of trying to carry an albatross of a gallery further out, we’re trying to set up a studio, factory-type setting where we can all work on our own artwork, and put on sort of pop-up shows.

JH: So not having a set exhibition space?

MK: Exactly.

JH: How long have you been putting on shows?

MK: A year and a half.

SA: It’s been 18 months since we started, and 16 months since we started having official shows. By the 25th show we’ll have shown over 60 artists.

JH: What do you have going on for Bushwick Open Studios?

SA: Just to put on a bangin’ show.

MK: Another one of our group shows with our artists.

C’est La Vie is the 27th, and final, show at 950 Hart. Ring #103 to be let in. Here is the facebook event invitation. Artists on view are Eliot Lable, Joana Ricou, Matthew Mahler, Antoinette Johnson, Michael Kronenberg, Gili Levy, Matthew Brennan and Carla Cubit.

Michael Kronenberg in the kitchen of 950 Hart

Work in the exhibition space in the basement

Artwork surrounding studio space and communal living space

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