By Ximena Del Cerro, Brooklyn Paper
The show must go on. After losing thousands of dollars worth of art, furniture, and art supplies due to the flood water from last week’s storm, artists with Arts Gowanus will carry on with their plans to host their annual Open Studios exhibition on October 21 and 22.
On Friday, September 29, the organization’s headquarters and about 70 individual studios located at 540 President Street were inundated with half a foot of water that poured through the building’s front door. Johnny Thornton, executive director of Arts Gowanus, estimated the damage is $80,000 worth.
“Everyone lost work,” said Thornton. “Some artists have exhibitions coming up, some people lost a lot of equipment.”
The city’s drainage systems can handle 1.75 inches of rainfall per hour. The storm that hit Brooklyn on the night of September 28 and continued through the next evening dropped more than two inches per hour at its heaviest.
Gowanus is one of Brooklyn’s most vulnerable neighborhoods when it comes to flooding and contamination from sewer overflow, thanks in part to the Gowanus Canal in the center of the neighborhood. More than seven inches of water filled some streets as the storm raged on.
This is the second time the studios have flooded in the last three years. Hurricane Ida left the President Street center filled with eight inches of water in September 2021 and destroyed artwork and equipment, forcing artists to toss out years of work and art materials.
Arts Gowanus members started a GoFundMe through which they hope to raise $25,000 to make up for some of the losses. So far, neighbors and community members have donated over $11,000.
The organization itself took a big hit, Thornton said, and a lot of Open Studios materials and merchandise for the upcoming show were ruined.
“It was pretty devastating for us as an organization,” said Thorton, who also lost many of his own art pieces. However, the director reaffirmed they will be back on their feet in time for the exhibit.
Open Studios will feature about 400 artists across different locations — galleries, storefronts, and more – in Gowanus and the surrounding neighborhoods. Thorton said 70 locations are already locked in, but the number might rise to 100, and 540 President Street will be one of them.
“I’ve talked personally to a lot of the artists and we’re going to forge ahead and do our best to help the artists present the most work they can,” he said. “We’re not delaying.”
This will be the 27th annual Open Studios. Visitors can expect a rare glimpse inside the former factories, warehouses, and studio buildings of the artists based in the greater Gowanus area, and artists will be on hand to discuss their work and artistic process. Thousands of printed maps will be distributed to help visitors navigate through murals, galleries, and other locations, and a digital map will be available online.
Gowanus Open Studios will take place on October 21 and 22 from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free, and locations vary. More information and a full map are available on the Arts Gowanus website.
Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran in Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.