Open Call: Brooklyn Utopias: Along the Canal

Arts Gowanus and the Old Stone House & Washington Park (OSH) are currently accepting submissions for Brooklyn Utopias: Along the Canal, a gallery and public outdoor exhibitions inviting artists to consider what a “Utopia” would look like for the communities of the neighborhoods bordering the Gowanus Canal. These include Gowanus, Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill, and Red Hook. Artists may comment on existing “utopian” endeavors in these communities, or imagine their own. CLICK HERE to read more about the history of the Gowanus Canal.

The project will include a gallery exhibition at the Old Stone House, and two public outdoor art exhibitions of printed banners hung on the fences surrounding J.J. Byrne Playground and Coffey Park. The exhibitions have separate open calls; artists may submit to one or both of the open calls, open to artists of all media and career stages.

Artists must comment on one of the above neighborhoods and address the following questions:

What does a “Brooklyn Utopia” look like for you, specifically in the neighborhoods bordering the Gowanus Canal?

How can this area’s unique history, as well as current developments, inform its future?

What is the role of artists in creating a more “Utopian” Gowanus?

Artists have long been drawn to the idea of utopia, defined as an ideal place or state, or any visionary system of political, social, environmental, or moral perfection. The idea of utopia is more relevant now than ever as the covid-19 pandemic, climate crises, gentrification, and financial instability are playing out in very local ways in our communities. Artists may respond to the unique history, communities, organizations, environmental needs and cultural landscape of the Gowanus area. While the notion of “Utopia” is often a speculative one, we are curious about the ways in which your personal experiences in these communities may help shape a broader vision of utopia, with both local and global implications. In a rapidly changing Brooklyn, we seek to highlight the resilience and joy we experience as we look towards creating a more equitable and inclusive future.

BACKGROUND ON BROOKLYN UTOPIAS AND EXHIBITION SITES:

The Brooklyn Utopias series was first conceived in 2009 by OSH Contemporary Curator Katherine Gressel as a way for artists to respond to Brooklyn’s resurging popularity in the 21st Century and often competing and controversial rebuilding and rebranding efforts. It was also inspired by Brooklyn’s history as an enclave for artists, social reformers, immigrants, environmentalists and others drawn to its iconic neighborhoods. Learn about our most recent Brooklyn Utopias: 2020 exhibition and also visit the blog https://brooklynutopias.wordpress.com/ for information about past Brooklyn Utopias shows presented at OSH from 2009-2015, addressing the sub-topics of urban farming, parks/public space, transportation, and income inequality. OSH also hosted a Being Well: In Search of Utopia? exhibition on health & wellness in 2017.

The Old Stone House (OSH) is a reconstructed Dutch colonial farmhouse located in Park Slope’s Washington Park/J.J. Byrne Playground. The playground and house restoration were first developed by Robert Moses in the 1930s, but the land surrounding the house made history long before then as the site of the 1776 Revolutionary War Battle of Brooklyn, and as a 19th Century Brooklyn Dodgers practice field. OSH is at the crossroads of ancient Lenape paths, adjacent to the historic town of Marechkawick, and has recently updated its permanent exhibition with information about the area’s native inhabitants, also making this a focus of our contemporary art programming. Today, OSH hosts history and environmental education programs as well as cultural and family events. Artists may contact OSH as a resource on the history of the Gowanus Canal and its connection to these historic events.

Opened in 1901 and bound by Verona, King, Dwight, and Richards Streets, Coffey Park is named for Michael J. Coffey (1839-1907), the former state senator, alderman, and district leader representing Red Hook. Renovated in 1999, Coffey Park features a playground with swings, benches, game tables, picnic tables, basketball courts, handball courts, and a baseball diamond.

Arts Gowanus
540 President Street
Brooklyn, New York 11215
Website: https://www.artsgowanus.org

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