Yesterday was the opening of an outdoor display of sculptures on Brooklyn's waterfront. The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC) invited artists from around the world to contribute to a show called "Still Flying." It's BWAC's 25th anniversary outdoor sculpture show and a good number of works can be viewed while visiting Empire-Fulton Ferry and Brooklyn Bridge Parks. BWAC puts on four shows a year with the volunteer efforts of its members.
The New York Sun reported Friday that the organization was originated nearby, in what is now called DUMBO. BWAC moved to Red Hook many years ago and now inhabits the beautiful historic pier that forms half of the entrance to Red Hook's Erie Basin (a great place to watch the fireworks, by the way). Almost adjacent to the new Fairway supermarket, the group's 19th Century brick warehouse faces almost directly towards the Statue of Liberty on an incredible piece of property.
Currently, the space is donated to BWAC by a former policeman, Greg O'Connell, who owns dozens of properties in the neighborhood and feels that the artists add to the value of the rapidly changing community that is Red Hook. Still, the Sun wonders how long O'Connell will be able resist cashing in on 25,000 square feet of waterfront real estate, in lieu of being a group of artists' benefactor.
The article has a number of good quotes, including one by the president of BWAC, John Strohbeen, who noted "When I moved in you would find burned-out cars out in front of my building. Now you can't find a parking space." When asked if she was at least pleased about a growing number of amenities in the neighborhood, a BWAC member and painter Mary Creede replied "A lot of the small family businesses that were really charming are gone." Obviously, the ongoing gentrification of Red Hook is a touchy subject for BWAC artists, and rightly so. Also noted: The recent listing of the working Brooklyn waterfront as an endangered area by the National Trust.