Brooklyn art seekers, rejoice. There’s an abundance of extraordinary art to see in New York this summer, and it’s not limited to the galleries in Chelsea. For those looking to expand their artistic horizons past Manhattan and into the outer boroughs, we’ve asked Savona Bailey-McClain, director of the West Harlem Art Fund, to suggest five notable galleries in Williamsburg and Dumbo (two neighborhoods in which the Art Fund offers expert-led tours) to hit this season.
1. A.I.R. Gallery
155 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
A.I.R. Gallery has been around since 1972, making it one of the oldest women’s galleries in the country, and the oldest in New York City. They’ve recently moved to Plymouth Street in Dumbo, which has meant they’ve changed their style a bit — in the last year or so, the organization’s evolved to become significantly more bold and daring. I think the change is working for them — you can always count on thought-provoking, edgy works that force viewers to get in close and really connect. (Don’t miss Kathleen Schneider’s PAST/PRESENT this June, or Marcia Neblett’s HYBRIDS.)
2. Smack Mellon
92 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Smack Mellon is another non-profit arts organization located on Plymouth Street. The scale of their space is amazing, with fantastic views of the Manhattan Bridge and the East River. The building itself adds an interesting layer to the experience of visiting — it was an old storage building that now houses two large galleries with studio spaces for artists’ residencies below. I’ve always loved how the exhibitions work around the history of the space, with lighting and cleverly thought-out arrangements.
3. The Journal Gallery
106 N 1st St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
The Journal is located in a repurposed warehouse with enormous walls that can handle large-scale, complex works. The space really humbles you and allows you to simply appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. This summer, be sure to check out Freedom Culture, by Graham Collins.
168 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Figureworks is on the 2nd floor of a townhouse building — and as the name implies, the works there are all focused around the human figure. Spend some time perusing its three intimate rooms, and if you’re lucky, you may have a chance to chat with some of the featured artists — the gallerist has a close relationship with those whose work he shows, and many often come by to talk to visitors. https://blog.coursehorse.com/blog/5-brooklyn-art-galleries-to-visit-this-summer/Also, if you’re free Saturday mornings, there are figure drawing classes that are open to the public.
5. Ventana 244
244 N 6th St, New York, NY 11211
Lastly, Ventana 244 is a small, meticulously curated gallery that’s not afraid to present bold, outside-of-the-box works. (A recent multimedia exhibition called Torched & Scorched, for example, married sculpture, painting, and animal voices.) A bonus? The staff is wonderful — you’re guaranteed to walk away impressed.
Many thanks for the recommendations, Savona.
Visit the West Harlem Art Fund website, here. Sign up for gallery tours — including ones in Chelsea, Dumbo, Williamsburg, and Long Island City — on CourseHorse.