Arsenal Gallery’s Newest Exhibit Explores Williamsburg Waterfront
Williamsburg’s Waterfront, the latest exhibition at the Arsenal Gallery, presents paintings and photographs of the panoramas, buildings, and plant life along north Brooklyn’s waterfront. Sally Paul and John Berens are residents of Brooklyn’s largest artist enclave, and they portray their neighborhood on the verge of a major transformation. The neglected riverfront that once grew in tandem with East River shipping and industry is now slated for major redevelopment, including new parks.
John Berens was among the first wave of artists to settle in Williamsburg. He has frequently photographed the waterfront—pulling over in his pickup truck on the Williamsburg Bridge or stepping onto the roof of his studio at dusk. His paintings have been shown at galleries in New York and California, and at the Brooklyn Museum. This is the second exhibition of his photographs.
Sally Paul’s studio is just up the river in Greenpoint. She is interested in the plants that grow along Brooklyn’s industrial shores; she often collects them and incorporates them into her paintings. Inspired by the local landscape, Paul reimagines it in a heavily stylized form. Working with tempera and acrylic on board, her paintings exhibit a gentle sheen and subtle gradations of color. Her paintings have been shown at Firehouse Contemporary in Burlington, Vermont and The National Arts Club in New York.
In Williamsburg’s Waterfront, curated by Parks & Recreation’s Public Art Coordinator Clare Weiss, Berens’s and Paul’s works depict the intersection of industry and nature along Brooklyn’s shores and the immense attraction that the river holds, even in the waterfront’s desolate state. They have captured a moment in time, as rezoning will enable residential and commercial development.
"I was drawn to photograph the waterfront purely for inspiration for my work, and my interest in landscape and cityscape," said Berens. "But I’m happy that I can show a place before it changes."
The City’s plan for Williamsburg-Greenpoint includes 50 acres of new parkland along the water, improved access to the waterfront, and the creation of a two-mile continuous walkway along the water’s edge. It is part of a larger effort to revitalize New York City’s 578 miles of coastline.
The show is on view January 10-27 at the Arsenal Gallery; hours are 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn’t permanent."