Bushwick gets rough new art space

The uninitiated might mistake it for a crumbling warehouse, but that’s by design.

Story by Danielle Furfaro - Source: http://www.brooklynpaper.com
In the rough: Art world gadfly Peter Hopkins plans to turn this massive warehouse into a Bushwick cultural center.  Photo © Danielle Furfaro

In the rough: Art world gadfly Peter Hopkins plans to turn this massive warehouse into a Bushwick cultural center. Photo © Danielle Furfaro

Peter Hopkins, a promoter known for creating neighborhood arts centers, is preparing to open a new one in Bushwick called 299 Meserole. The uninitiated might mistake it for a crumbling warehouse, but that’s by design.

“We just want it to look like this,” said Hopkins, standing in the center of the rough-hewn, dust-covered main room. “We don’t want it to look Chelsea-fied. A big, rough space is what artists are looking for.”

Hopkins hopes that 299 Meserole — named after its address — will be the new center of the fast-growing Bushwick arts scene. He plans to revolve shows and events around five or six anchor tenants in the 25,000-square-foot building.

“This will be more like a community space than a gallery,” said Hopkins, pointing out the courtyard, massive main room and roll up gates.

Previously, Hopkins curated the galleries and studios at The BogArt. This warehouse at 56 Bogart Street in Williamsburg houses a variety of studios including NURTUREart, the Slag Gallery and Momenta Art, as well as studio spaces.

When he started The BogArt in the mid-2000s, Bushwick was still the hardscrabble, mostly ignored stepchild of Williamsburg — but it had everything it needed to be a success, said Hopkins.

“You need a subway stop, a restaurant and a building,” he said.

The new 299 Meserole space has all of that as well. It’s just around the corner from the Montrose L stop, and in the past two years the surrounding blocks, which previously resembled a ghost town, have seen the openings of a veritable smorgasbord of scenester-baiting bars and restaurants.

Hopkins believes that Bushwick is the future of the New York City art world. But in the meantime, he and others plan to enjoy its nascent, unsophisticated charm.

“This is a space to collaborate, cooperate, get messy,” said Hopkins. “The art world needs that injection.”

Marco Antonini, gallery director of NURTUREart, agrees that Bushwick is not ready for prime time, and says that is good.

“This is still a place for entry-level artists,” said Antonini. “If you’re focusing on commerce, this isn’t the best place to go.”

299 Meserole Street, between Waterbury and Bogart streets, Bushwick.

 

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