Notice anything different on the Whole Foods esplanade lately? This past Saturday, volunteers constructed ArtLab Gowanus, to host monthly site-specific art workshops, taught by local artists, right along the banks of the Canal. The best part? All workshops are free and open to the public.

IMG_20160425_103741In 2015, we responded to a Call for Public Art “to showcase what makes Gowanus ‘Gowanus’: the history, the Canal, the culture of creativity and the diversity of the community.”  Our winning proposal reveals the creative process integral to Gowanus.  The Gowanus neighborhood is home to hundreds of artists, craftspeople, and fabricators “making” things behind walls. ArtLab Gowanus asserts that this “making” is critical to the character of the Gowanus, and needs to be integrated into public space on the evolving waterfront.

The structure was designed by a crack team of GCC Volunteer Coordinators – Wendy Andringa, Greta Ruedisueli, Joy Wang and Leah Wener. The designers developed the structure as a pentagon to best fit on the esplanade without impeding walkability. The “lab” is a steel-framed pop-up structure that provides flexible workspace for groups and individuals. There are built-in work surfaces, as well as storage for smaller drawing boards that participants can borrow for use in the nearby bench seating or around the neighborhood.  Sedums will inhabit a green roof, capturing and retaining rainwater before it makes its way into the canal; the floor will additionally feature a watershed mural.

Arts Lab_Pentagon_20160316The steel structure and floor were constructed offsite at a studio in Red Hook. GCC Volunteer Coordinators and Staff, led by Jason Mortara, worked with David Aronson, putting in many tireless hours and long nights to make sure the structure was completed for the install. Being a pentagon, the structure provided many unexpected challenges and left turns, but our crew was able to solve all issues and persevere through their weary eyes and hunger pains.

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Lo and behold, come the morning of Saturday, April 23, the structure was complete and ready to be shipped out to the Whole Foods esplanade.  Volunteers reassembled the structure, and installed the floor.  We will be installing the green roof and painting a mural on the floor in the coming weeks.
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GCC volunteer coordinator and local artist Jessica Dalrymple has curated a stellar season of workshops responding our unique site. Again, all are FREE and open to the public – see full list below. Please RSVP for workshops you would like to attend a few weeks before the event (unless otherwise noted).ArtLab Workshop Schedule_160426
None of this could have been made possible without our partnership with Arts Gowanus, the Old Stone House & Washington Park, and a generous grant by council member Brad Lander. And of course, all the hard work and dedication by our volunteers. We thank you!

We hope to see you at ArtLab soon. 🙂