In examining gentrification and its consequences, there’s one particular theme that is persistent: a wearing away of the pre-existing culture.

That “loss of culture” is referenced, by and large, through the dramatic shift in demographics– the loss of its long-time residents. But there are other less obvious cultural elements impacted by gentrification, including the business landscape, the architectural development and most importantly, the art.

On Wednesday, January 21, from 7:00pm – 9:00pm, BRIC will hold Pioneers! O’ Pioneers! A History of NY Artist Neighborhoods, a free panel discussion on the changing landscapes for artists’ work and exhibition spaces since the 1950s– the first in its series of events on gentrification

Street art in Gowanus, Brooklyn Photo: Raven Snook, Courtesy of Mommy Poppins,

“We get so much of our character from the presence of artists. And yet it is harder and harder for them to find a space,” said Elizabeth Ferrer, vice president of contemporary art at BRIC and the panel’s curator.

Ferrer has invited as participants on the panel artist Joyce Kozloff and art critic and historian Max Kozloff, pioneers of the Soho art scene in the 1970s; Walter Robinson, a painter and critic who documented the art scene in the Lower East Side in the 1980s; and Joe Amrhein, artist and founder of the pioneering Williamsburg gallery Pierogi, all of whom will discuss the rise of Brooklyn and Williamsburg in the 1990s art scene and what artists are doing in an effort to preserve their creative spaces.

“I remember when I first came to New York City, going to SoHo gallery, I saw the rise of Chelsea and Williamsburg and other artist neighborhoods, and there’s always a question of where the artists will go next,” said Ferrer. “So what I wanted with the panel was to think about it historically.

The discussion will be moderated by Paddy Johnson, founding Editor of Art F City and the Arts Editor for The L Magazine.

OPEN (C)ALL: The Artist’s Studio is up now in the Gallery of BRIC House, a part of the gentrification programming. OPEN (C)ALL was opened to all members of BRIC’s online Contemporary Artist Registry or to those artists who were born, live, or work in Brooklyn, and who joined the BRIC Artist Registry during the exhibition submission period.

“I think that artists are great at improvising and solving problems and really want to be here, and I’m really impressed at how they manage to survive here,” said Ferrer. “I just wonder about the viability of Brooklyn.

“I think time will tell. But it is something that artists talk about all the time.”


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