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Looking at Superstorm Sandy through an artist’s eyes

By Paula Katinas - Source:
Visitors enjoy one of the many artworks in the exhibition, which opened this past weekend in Sunset Park. Photo courtesy Billy Farrell Agency

Visitors enjoy one of the many artworks in the exhibition, which opened this past weekend in Sunset Park. Photo courtesy Billy Farrell Agency

With the first anniversary of superstorm Sandy approaching, the Brooklyn artistic community is marking the milestone with a special 100,000-square foot exhibition in a Sunset Park gallery featuring the works of more than 300 artists who were hit by the hurricane and then inspired by it.

Superstorm Sandy hit New York City on Oct. 29, 2012, killing 44 people, destroying thousands of homes in shore-front communities, rendering the subway system inoperable for days and upending thousands of lives. Yet, the hurricane also served as the inspiration for great art.

“Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year 1” opened at Industry City, at 220 36th St., on Oct. 19. Thousands of visitors came to the gallery for the opening weekend, according to the exhibition’s organizers.

The exhibition, which will include paintings, drawings, sculpture, poetry readings, music and dance performances, films and panel discussions, will run through Dec. 15. The works of more than 300 artists are represented in the exhibition.

The exhibition is designed as a commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the storm, but also as a celebration of the resiliency of New York’s artistic community, which was hit hard by the storm.

The show is being presented by Dedalus Foundation and Industry City. The curator is Phong Bui, an artist, writer and publisher of The Brooklyn Rail.

“In the year since Sandy wreaked havoc, the many artists who lost use of their studios or significant parts of their life’s work, have struggled to recover,” Bui said. “This event is about the arts community, the Sunset Park neighborhood, and the city as a whole coming together in the spirit of solidarity to celebrate resiliency through art and expression,” the curator said.

The panel discussion will include talks on the conservation of works of art in natural disasters and preventative measures with regard to future disasters.

Poets, who have been commissioned to write about their experience of Sandy, will read their poetry.

The complete list of artists, events and viewing hours, including holiday closures, is available at

At the grand opening on Sunday, Oct. 20, visitors explored the artworks installed on the exhibition’s four floors.

Josiah McElheny’s “Walking Mirrors (2012)” was performed on the third floor gallery throughout the afternoon and evening, and the radio station of the Clocktower Gallery interviewed artists about their experiences during Sandy.

Every Saturday during the exhibition, a contemporary art conservator from such organizations as the Guggenheim Museum, the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, will be on site to conduct three-minute interviews with artists who were victims of Hurricane Sandy.

These taped interviews will provide an oral history of how the arts community was affected by the storm and also how it has worked toward recovery. Artists are encouraged to visit and talk about their experiences. For more information, email

The setting for the exhibition, Industry City, has been involved with Hurricane Sandy relief since the storm hit, according to organizers. At the time of the storm, Industry City, which suffered extensive basement flooding and infrastructure damage, donated the use of 18,000 square feet of space to volunteer conservators who worked on the recovery of hundreds of works of art.

Industry City, located within the Bush Terminal in Sunset Park, is a 6.5-million-square-foot complex of industrial, office and retail space that comprises over 30 acres of the historic terminal along the waterfront.

“This exhibition is a cathartic moment for both Industry City and the Sunset Park community which sustained major damage during Sandy,” said Andrew Kimball, CEO of Industry City. “Given the exhibition’s theme of resiliency, Industry City was a good fit to host this event,” he said.

Many of the works in the exhibition will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds to be donated to a charitable fund benefiting both Sandy relief and arts education in the community. The Dedalus Foundation will match the amount raised, up to $25,000.

“The Dedalus Foundation is proud to be engaged in helping to bring together the New York arts community after last year’s devastating events,” said Jack Flam, President of the Dedalus Foundation.

Founded in 1981 by the artist Robert Motherwell, the Dedalus Foundation seeks to educate the public by fostering an understanding of modern art and modernism. The foundation supports research, education, publications and exhibitions. For more information, visit:

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