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Heritage and art to mingle - Open Studios and Puerto Rican Day Parade on same day

Laura Braslow, Maggie Pounds and Chloe Bass of Arts in Bushwick have no idea what to expect during the second annual Bushwick Open Studios, which, held from June 6 to June 8, will coincide with Bushwick’s Puerto Rican Day Parade festivities.

“My feeling is that they overlap and they can play off each other in exciting ways,” said Braslow, Arts in Bushwick’s operations director. “If people who are out for the Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday want to come and see some art, that’s cool too.”

Bushwick Open Studios will consist of more than 150 different installations throughout Bushwick, stretching from Metropolitan Avenue and Morgan Street all the way to Woodbine and Central Avenue. Several hundred arts and culture fans from throughout the city attended last year’s series, and thousands could be expected to attend this year.

“There’s so much going on, I don’t even know what half of it is,” said Chloe Bass, an Arts in Bushwick volunteer and Bushwick Impact liaison.

Members of Arts in Bushwick, an all-volunteer network of artists in the Bushwick neighborhood, managed Open Studios, which involved communicating with various individual artists, performance groups, and cultural organizations, setting up applications, and coordinating the schedule and logistics of the events.

The weekend will include a variety of visual art installations, live music performances, dance, performance art exhibitions, film screenings, poetry readings, multi-cultural parties and acrobatics shows.

“Almost everyone who is a core organizer of the festival is a freelancer or an artist who has organized their life so they have time to do artworks and community projects,” Braslow said. “When people choose to put time into this, they can, but they’re really running ragged.”

For the past two weeks leading up to the opening weekend, the Arts in Bushwick members have been running around the neighborhood at a frenzied pace prepping for the festival, which will feature some of its members' own events. Braslow, for instance, will lead a sustainability forum at Bushwick Impact, while Pounds is installing a group show exhibit with several artists in her loft on Varet Street, and Bass will be participating in some capacity with one of the performing arts groups that weekend.

Jeff Seal, another Arts in Bushwick member, will be leading a Cultural Mapping Project, sponsored by Fractured Atlas, which has been listing and mapping organizations in Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint that are related to the arts.

The project, which is expected to be completed later this summer, looks to improve interconnectivity between the various schools, nonprofit organizations, public housing centers, galleries, and studios where art and music is produced in the neighborhood. Seal has been distributing surveys online and conducting interviews about people’s experiences working as an artist in New York.

“We are interested in whether artists feel they are able to survive in the city due to pressures from gentrification or getting priced out and what their experience has been like,” Seal said. “We’re trying to find a broad range of artists, people who came to these neighborhoods as well as people who were born and raised here.”

Braslow and the others involved in the show hope that a diverse group of community members and city dwellers visit their neighbors’ studio workspaces during what may be Bushwick’s busiest weekend of the year.

“We’re trying to dispel the popular stereotype that artists put locks on our doors and shut out the community,” Braslow said. “If we can show that our doors are literally open, that’s a nice thing for Bushwick.”

Open Studios will be held from Friday June 6 to Sunday June 8. Most studios will open between noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information as well as a map and schedule of the various events and sites for the studios, visit www.artsinbushwick.org.

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