Wednesday, January 30, 2008

October 17, 2006

The first time I went Brooklyn, Annie and I were shocked by the lack of noise. Stepping out of the subway onto Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg, there were no sirens blaring, horns honking or cabs speeding and abruptly screeching to a stop. On that grey December afternoon, hipsters were all around us, yet the lacking background noise whispered “suburbia” in my ear. But this is not the suburbia where I grew up, the minivan parked in the McMansion driveway suburbia, Brooklyn is an accessible semi-urbia, a retreat from Manhattan’s inescapable billboards that still retains a city flavor. Which is why I like Brooklyn.

I love Brooklyn. It’s harder to navigate than Manhattan, where counting equals a good sense of direction down to 14th St., before street names appear.

d.u.m.b.o. down under the manhattan bridge overpass?
Get out of the subway and a sign directs you through a park and down a hill where pavement merges with a cobble stone street and the Manhattan Bridge frames the Empire State Building. Missed camera opportunity #1.

I came for d.u.m.b.o.’s 10th annual art under the bridge festival.
Large galleries showed photographs from the city’s hip-hop scene, strange contemporary art sculptures of cotton volcanoes with eye glasses in the middle and photographs of Katrina’s devastation. How can a lens capture something so horrifying in such a beautiful way?

Artists opened their studios to the public. Some actually lived in them, grandparents and grandbabies ate soup in the kitchen as people perused through the living-showroom. Others were housed in dilapidated factory with no heat, starving artists? Not sure, a photographer’s opened studio had expensive equipment, but I couldn’t make myself go in because reaching the photographs required walking through his living space that college dorm room dirty, crusty dishes, clothes on the floor, an unmade bed—or was it an air mattress? Throughout this dark former factory that ignited thoughts of rapists, trash, cigarette buts, a single half-drunk beer bottle, pizza boxes and piles of wood were juxtaposed with professional gallery spaces showcasing impressive contemporary art.

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