A major new first-floor Brooklyn Museum gallery opened in March with Fine Lines: American Drawings, which will remain on view through May 28. The new 6,000-square-foot space is the latest step in a phased renovation that will, within the next two years, dramatically alter the entire first and second floors of the Museum’s McKim, Mead and White building.
This new space, designed by Ennead Architects, incorporates both a larger and a smaller gallery and two vestibule areas. It is named the Robert E. Blum Gallery–as was the previous special-exhibition gallery on the first floor. Read more →
In May 1654, the early settlers of Gravesend, Brooklyn purchased what is now known as Coney Island from the local Native Americans. Back then it was just a beach, but by the 1840s it had morphed into how many of us know it now: a vacation getaway right in our own city.
Roads and steamships around that time made travel time from New York City around two hours, making Coney Island an accessible beach destination for anyone. By the 1920s it was even more popular, after the subway made its debut. But visitors weren’t content with just beaches and hotels. There were games to be played, rides to be ridden, and souvenirs to take home! Here are a few from the New-York Historical Society‘-s collection. Read more →
An exhibition of some thirty-five exceptional American and European quilt masterpieces from the Brooklyn Museum’s renowned decorative arts holdings will examine the impact of feminist scholarship on the ways in which historical quilts have been and are currently viewed, contextualized, and interpreted.
Only one of these rare quilts has been on public display in the past thirty years. “Workt by Hand”: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts will be on view in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art from March 15 through September 15, 2013. Read more →
Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum presents a selection of more than a hundred rarely seen drawings and sketchbooks produced between 1768 and 1945 from the Brooklyn Museum’s exceptional collection. The exhibition will feature the work of more than seventy artists, including John Singleton Copley, Stuart Davis, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Eastman Johnson, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, and Benjamin West. Read more →
The Brooklyn Museum, together with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has organized the landmark exhibition John Singer Sargent Watercolors, which unites for the first time the holdings of Sargent watercolors acquired by each of the two institutions in the early twentieth century. The ninety-three watercolors in the exhibition–including thirty-eight from Brooklyn’s collection, most of which have not been on view for decades–provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to view a broad range of Sargent’s finest production in the medium. Read more →
When it comes to the performing arts, New York City may forever be synonymous with the Broadway musical, at least in the popular imagination.
However, while there’s a lot to be said for Broadway, New Yorkers and performing arts aficionados alike know that if you want to see the work of the most daring and innovative artists working in music, dance, and theatre today, you need to venture far away from the lights of the Great White Way. Read more →
A new drama Roebling: The Story of the Brooklyn Bridge is in development for a New York City Equity Showcase Production to be produced by special arrangement between the author Mark Violi and Theater to Go. Plans are underway to present this show in March 2013.
Based on the true story of the Roebling family who helped conceive, design and finally build the New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, the play has been endorsed by the Roebling Museum and by descendants of John Roebling. “Roebling: The Story of the Brooklyn Bridge” brings to the stage the human drama surrounding the construction effort to complete one of the most enduring engineering icons in the world. The play examines the beginnings of the project to build the Brooklyn Bridge in1869, through its completion in 1883. It is a play about a forward thinking family on the cutting edge of the Industrial Revolution. The play shows how this project foreshadowed the 20th century in its huge ambition, the revolutionary construction techniques developed by John Roebling and implemented by his son Washington, and in the recognition of the invaluable role that a woman, Emily Roebling, played in the completion of this enormous project. “Roebling: The Story of the Brooklyn Bridge” has had two widely acclaimed non-equity productions in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey. The New Jersey premier was produced in 2010 by invitation of the Roebling Museum to open the restored Roebling Auditorium and it was because of the overwhelming response to this play that plans were implemented to bring it to NYC. Fundraising has begun through IndieGoGo. Through a special arrangement with Fractured Atlas, Theater to Go is able to accept tax deductible contributions and has arranged to offer some incentives donated by the Roebling Museum including artifacts from the Roebling factories. With the success of the fundraising, this showcase production is seen as a first step toward a larger New York production. Theater to Go is well known throughout the Mid-Atlantic region for their unique interactive theater events. At the helm is Ruth Markoe who has produced, directed and performed throughout the region for many years and who brought the NJ premier to the stage. Photo: Mark Violi and Ruth Markoe holding original cable from the Brooklyn Bridge (provided).
Each voter may nominate as many as three artists for inclusion in the GO exhibition, which will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum from December 1, 2012, through February 24, 2013.
The ten artists with the most voter nominations will receive studio visits from Brooklyn Museum curators Sharon Matt Atkins, Managing Curator of Exhibitions, and Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, who will make the final selection of works to be included in the exhibition.
Members of the public will nominate the artists whose work will be considered for GO: a community-curated open studio project, an upcoming exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, by registering online to vote and by visiting artist studios during the GO open studio weekend on September 8-9, 2012. 1861 Brooklyn-based artists will open their studio doors in 46 of Brooklyn’s 67 neighborhoods, covering Brooklyn’s 73 square miles.
Today marks the launch of a new phase of the GO website, which showcases participating artists and allows voters to register. By visiting www.gobooklynart.org, voters can create and share itineraries of artist studios they plan to visit on September 8 and 9. Itineraries can be accessed on the GO iPhone application, so voters may take their plans with them as they travel around Brooklyn during the open studio weekend.
On September 8 and 9, artists will open their studio doors to the public from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Voters must check in using either the GO iPhone app or SMS text messaging using a unique number assigned to each artist and posted on a sign in their studio. Voters can also write down artist numbers and enter them later at the GO website. To be eligible to vote, registrants must check in at a minimum of five studios. After the close of the open studio weekend, eligible voters will receive an email from the GOteam with nomination instructions.
The public nomination period will begin on September 12 and end on September 18. During that time, voters will have the option to comment on the artist studios they visited. The comments will be publicly available on the GO website and may be selected for inclusion in the exhibition GO: a community-curated open studio project.
The GO project launched in May with the goal of transforming how communities in Brooklyn, and beyond, engage with the arts by providing the public with the opportunity to discover artistic talent and get involved in the exhibition process at a grassroots level.
The project is co-organized by Atkins and Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology. GO: a communitycurated open studio project is inspired by two established programs: ArtPrize, an annual, publicly juried art competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the long tradition of open studio weekends held each year in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Gowanus, Red Hook, and Bushwick.
Adirondack guides from over a century ago are themselves part of the lore and history of the region. Their handling of city “sports,” coupled with their great abilities in the woods, provided the background for many a legendary tale. Guides were often strongly independent and shared a great affinity for the solitude of the deep woods. So what were nearly two dozen of these woodsmen doing in a New York City courtroom in the winter of 1893–94?They were present for the culmination of a terrific news story that had earned sustained coverage for more than two years. Dozens of American and Canadian newspapers followed the tale, which at times dominated the New York City media. A key component was its Adirondack connection. The story centered on well-known businessman John C. “Jack” Austin, 38, of Brooklyn. Fit, trim, and very athletic, he participated regularly in team and individual sports. In industry, he was known to have enjoyed success, providing a comfortable, if not wealthy, existence for his family. Austin’s wife died in February 1891, leaving him with three young children to raise, which he was doing with the aid of their very attentive housekeeper.The afternoon of July 4, 1891, was like any other holiday in Austin’s life, with plans to attend the horse races or go swimming at Manhattan Beach. He kissed the children good-bye and went on his way, promising to take them that evening to the Independence Day fireworks.Nearly nine hours later, the clerk at Manhattan Beach was performing the nightly check of the safe’s contents when he encountered an envelope bearing the name and street address of John Austin. For bathers visiting the beach, it was normal procedure to hire a bath room for changing clothes, and to deposit any valuables (wallet, cash, rings, watches) in envelopes provided by the facility. The owner received a numbered ticket which was later used to recover those goods.After finding the envelope with Austin’s name on it, the clerk searched Room #391, where he found a coat, vest, shirt, hat, trousers, and underwear. In the pockets of the clothing were a case of business cards, a penknife, some keys, and some pencils.Since it was nighttime and Austin’s personal belongings were still present, there was only one logical explanation: the owner likely had drowned. The clerk called for help, and in the presence of the bathing-pavilion superintendent, the Manhattan Beach chief of police, and a fireman, the security envelope was opened.Inside were items of varying value: a pocketbook containing a few dollars and some change- a ring with the letter S on it- and a lady’s gold watch and chain, studded with pearls.The family was contacted and apprised of the situation. Joseph Austin (John’s brother), and Thomas Carruthers (John’s brother-in-law) positively identified the belongings as John’s, and a search was initiated. For two days, police and volunteers patrolled the water and the beaches, covering not only Manhattan Beach, but the nearby shores of Jamaica Bay, Plum Island, Rockaway, and Sheepshead Bay.Veteran lawmen and experienced searchers knew what to do and where to look. Drownings were not uncommon off the shores of Coney Island, where tides and the prevailing winds routinely sent victim’s bodies to the shore sooner or later. Austin was presumed drowned, and alerts were issued to authorities on Staten Island as well as the New Jersey shore on the outside chance the body might surface there.Over the course of ten days, nothing was found, which in itself stirred suspicions. Some suggested that a northwest wind had driven the body out to sea, but police and beach veterans knew better. Austin’s room, #391, had been rented at about 4:00 pm, and for several hours following, a strong flood tide had pushed inland. To a man, they recognized it as an unusual circumstance that Austin’s body had not washed ashore—if he had, in fact, drowned.The family filed a claim with two insurance companies, where Austin’s coverage totaled $25,000 (equal to about $620,000 today). However, since no body had been recovered, one of the companies had already begun an investigation, despite the stellar public image of Austin as a respected, honest, hard-working family man. They wouldn’t be paying on the claim just yet.A number of peculiarities, both large and small, were noted in the situation surrounding John Austin’s disappearance. He was known to be wearing a very valuable diamond ring, but only an inexpensive ring was found in the envelope.The same was true of the lady’s watch that was found. Austin always wore his own watch, described as “a magnificent chronometer.” Friends and relatives said the valued watch was being repaired at a jeweler, but the insurance company discovered that the watch had been picked up on July 3, the day before he vanished. The jeweler’s shop was very near Austin’s office, but for some unknown reason, he had sent a messenger boy with a check to pick up the watch.It was also learned that John Austin patronized Manhattan Beach regularly and was well known to many of the workers—yet no one recalled seeing him on July 4. Further, on that day it was chilly and windy, reducing attendance to about 600 on a beach that often held many thousands of bathers. Despite the sparseness of the crowd, no employees could be found who had seen Austin.Co-workers and partners confirmed that the missing man always carried plenty of cash, almost never less than $100. And yet the envelope of his belongings held just a few dollars.He was also known to many as a very prolific and strong swimmer, often covering extreme distances. Drowning seemed an unlikely end for such a fit and able swimmer.Another possibility was floated: perhaps Austin had been hiding out while an imposter went to the beach on his behalf, used the changing room, and deposited the valuables (which had since been deemed not so valuable after all). That would explain why (in an unusually sparse crowd) no attendants had seen Austin. Maybe he hadn’t been there at all.Many more suspicious developments spurred further investigation, expanding far from the confines of New York City. Austin’s three orphaned children were now living with his sister, who was a resident of Montreal, Quebec.It was learned that their missing father was one of a great many city dwellers who frequented the Adirondacks for hunting and fishing expeditions. Since the Adirondacks were little more than an hour south of Montreal, investigators kept digging.It was then ascertained that John C. Austin was no stranger to the North Country. To be more specific, a number of those stalwarts of the north woods, the Adirondack guides, claimed to have not only seen Austin since his supposed drowning, but had guided him in several areas, including the Saranac Lake region.New developments caused further consternation. Of the two insurance policies which together were equal to well over $600,000 (in 2012), one had been secured by Austin on July 1, just three days before he vanished. And, after procuring the new policy, he had asked a secretary in the insurance office if it took effect at that very moment. It did seem an unusual query. With confirmation, he requested that the policy be sent to him ASAP. It was mailed that afternoon.A few witnesses eventually came forth, claiming they had seen a man disappear while swimming well offshore on July 4. Skeptical detectives suggested another scenario. Since Austin was widely known as a powerful swimmer, they believed he swam a few miles out, where he was picked up by a boat and secreted for a time at the home of his good friend, Henry LaMarche, south of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, not much more than ten miles from Manhattan Beach.LaMarche denied it, but his gardener and other employees stated emphatically that they had seen Austin with LaMarche in the days following the supposed drowning.Following up on Jack Austin’s great love of the north woods, detectives found many Adirondack guides who had known him over the years and claimed to have recently seen him and/or worked for him. One of them provided a photograph, said to have been taken recently. It showed Austin in full hunting gear. Confident now that this was a scam, the insurance companies denied the family’s claims, which were made on behalf of the children. Both sides had taken a firm stand, and the matter of whether or not John C. Austin was alive or dead would be decided by the courts.Thus, in December, 1893, about twenty Adirondack woodsmen found themselves en route to New York City for an extended stay, courtesy of the insurance companies. They were to testify about their interactions with Austin and the range of his movements. Next week: The conclusion?Adirondack guides from the big woods make a big impression in the big city.Photos: Top?Manhattan Beach, circa 1900. Bottom?Headline from the Austin case. The story of John Austin is one of 51 original North Country history pieces appearing in Adirondack & North Country Gold: 50+ New & True Stories You’re Sure to Love (352 pp.), a recent release by author Lawrence Gooley, owner of Bloated Toe Publishing.
The Brooklyn Museum is launching a borough-wide initiative in which Brooklyn-based artists will be invited to open their studios, allowing community members to visit and nominate artists for inclusion in a group exhibition to be held at the Museum.
Brooklyn Museum curators will visit the studios of top nominated artists to select works for the exhibition. The open studio weekend for GO: a community-curated open studio project will be held September 8 and 9. The exhibition will open during First Saturday on December 1, 2012, and will be on view through February 24, 2013. Web and mobile technology will be a central component bringing artists and community together to share information and perspectives on art. All participants (artists, voters, and volunteers) will be able to create a personal online profile at the project’s website, www.gobrooklynart.org. Artist profiles will include photos of each artist and their studio, along with images and descriptions of their work. Volunteers will be connected with their respective neighborhoods online, and voters will have profiles that track their activity during the open studio weekend and provide a platform on which to share their perspectives.
“GO is a wide-ranging and unique project that will transform how Brooklyn communities engage in the arts by providing everyone with the chance to discover artistic talent and to be involved in the exhibition process on a grassroots level. Through the use of innovative technology, GO provides every Brooklyn resident with an extraordinary opportunity to participate in the visual arts in an unprecedented way,” says Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman.
The project launched on May 18th with volunteer registration. Volunteers will identify and work with local groups and businesses within specific neighborhoods to engage artists and potential studio visitors. The Brooklyn Museum will also partner with the Brooklyn Arts Council, open studio organizations, the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, and Heart of Brooklyn to promote participation in GO. The New York City Housing Authority will also play an important role in engaging residents living in public housing developments in Brooklyn.
Artists will have an opportunity to register their studios at www.gobrooklynart.org in June. Artist registration will be followed by voter registration in August and early September. In October, Sharon Matt Atkins and Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, will make studio visits to the top nominated artists to select the work for the exhibition. Curators and community members will engage in a public dialogue about the selection of work.
GO continues the Brooklyn Museum’s long tradition of highlighting the borough’s community of artists. Since its 2004 exhibition, Open House: Working in Brooklyn, the largest survey to date of artists working in Brooklyn, the Museum has continued its commitment to Brooklyn artists with exhibitions by Fred Tomaselli, Lorna Simpson, and an upcoming exhibition by Mickalene Thomas, among others, and the current Raw/Cooked series of five exhibitions by under-the-radar Brooklyn artists.
A pioneer in crowd-sourced exhibitions, the Brooklyn Museum also presented Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition (2008), a photography show in which nearly 3,500 community members evaluated the work of 389 local photographers. More recently, Split Second: Indian Paintings (2011) invited the Museum’s online community to participate in the selection of works to be shown in an installation of Indian paintings.
The project organizers are Sharon Matt Atkins, Managing Curator of Exhibitions, and Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology. GO: a community-curated open studio project is inspired by two predecessors: ArtPrize, an annual publicly juried art competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the long tradition of open studio events that take place each year throughout Brooklyn.
The project’s website will be updated throughout the process until the exhibition’s opening in December 2012.