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Home on the stage: Silent Barn opens its doors to artists

Brooklyn Daily

There’s plenty of space in the barn for everyone.

The brand new Bushwick artist collective Silent Barn is making its Brooklyn debut renting workspaces to a theater company, a recording studio, a record exchange, and a handbag manufacturer. In a vacant lot next door, its members are planning a community garden and in a 1972 camper called “Canned Ham,” which will provide overnight accommodations to performers from out of town.

Since pulling the plug on a Queens space with a storied history and sad demise — it closed in September 2011 after building-code violations and a major robbery — Silent Barn members have been meeting weekly to map out a long-term future for the collective, according to Kristen Barry, a Barn member, musician, and artist from White Plains, NY.

“Trying to have a legal [art] space in the City that is financially sustainable is very rare; that’s something we’re trying to offer to artists,” Barry said. “[It’s] a very community-oriented space where ideas will be exchanged.”

Upstairs are several apartments for artists in residence such as Kate Levitt, a drummer from Baltimore who moved in just before New Year’s.

The Silent Barn isn’t a quiet place to call home, but Levitt — who signed on for an upcoming Asia tour with electro-fantasy musician Grimes — says it’s inspiring to live and work around so many artists.

“So many cool things are going on right now — this [apartment] is the coolest thing, and [the Grimes tour] is super cool,” she said as she moved boxes into her fourth-floor walk-up apartment, visibly excited about her new home.

“It’s all happening.”

On Jan. 5, the venue will present an evening of soundscapes in the recently renovated storefront performance space, featuring Alien Whale, a raucous, three-man jam ensemble whose smashing-drums-and-screaming-guitar sets feel like straight catharsis.

Also on the bill is Cloud Becomes Your Hand, whose hardscrabble yet listenable audio environments sound like they were made to accompany a videogame wherein a Calcutta kitchenmaid battles a swarm of robotized locusts, the Indian street-scene still audible in the background. It’s not dance music but it makes for an aural feast.

Fox-Crane-Bear, with longtime Silent Barn resident G. Lucas Crane, and Heat Identity will be perform, as well.

The show marks Silent Barn’s fourth evening of programming in less than a week, a sign the collective plans to continue its tradition of hosting near-nightly performances.

Alien Whale, Cloud Becomes Your Hand, Fox-Crane-Bear, and Lucas Crane at the Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Ave. between Melrose and Jefferson streets, www.silentbarn.org) Jan. 5, 8 pm–midnight, $7.

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