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Pocket Utopia Stumbles Through Williamsburg

Four months after closing her popular sliver gallery, Pocket Utopia, artist Austin Thomas decided to go mobile.

She has teamed up with several North Brooklyn galleries, as well as a handful of Chelsea-based ones, to begin a program called “Art Stumbles,” a walking tour of exhibitions and open studios led by artists for artists and art enthusiasts.

According to Thomas, the Art Stumbles offer up “food for thought, refreshments and refreshing perspectives on the art geography of a particular place.”

A recent amble through artists’ studios and the gallery space at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (1040 Metropolitan Ave.) for their exhibit, Neverandagain, revealed the direction of the new endeavor.

“I really believe in a community of artists. It frames how I make art,” said Thomas. “Artists have a responsibility in this amazing time that we are living in to do work together.”

Curator and oft-collaborator Elissa Levy led the tour with Thomas, illuminating why works were arranged in certain places throughout the space, often with further explanation from the artist who made the work themselves. She said that it was more exciting than a standard curator-led tour.

“Working with Austin, it was more engaged and we could create a dialogue that helps people be a part of it if they have questions. She is really amazing at making people welcome and open and part of the conversation. That dialogue gave me renewed confidence about what I did,” said Levy.

Artist Balam Bartolome, one of ISCP’s resident artists, explained his works which satirize specific moments of early American history as a way of learning about the country he is spending only a short time in.

“I am trying to understand the country, it’s history, and how it evolved,” said Bartolome.

Thomas hopes to include additional galleries such as Norte Maar (83 Wyckoff Ave.), Famous Accountants (1673 Gates Ave.) and +Kris Graves Projects (111 Front St.) in her next tour on Nov. 22, as well as a return visit to the ISCP for their next exhibition.

“New York, it’s always changing.There are external forces like the economy, but the art scene is always changing,” said Thomas. “It seems like Bushwick and East Williamsburg still have a strong art scene. It’s different from Williamsburg.”

For more information about Pocket Utopia and Art Stumbles, visit www.pocketutopia.com/ and http://drawingontheutopic.blogspot.com. The International Studio and Curatorial Program, located at 1040 Metropolitan Ave., hosts exhibitions periodically.For more information, call 718-387-2900 or visit http://www.iscp-nyc.org.

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