Bushwick Collective’s founder, Joe Ficalora, has many reasons to be feeling celebratory these days. With COVID restrictions easing up in New York City he decided this summer to continue with his plans to mark the 10th edition of the yearly block party he usually hosts on this triangle-shaped patch of gritty soil formed by Brooklyn’s chaotic street plans. For 10 years it’s been Ground Zero for a lot of hot summer city fun, and across the street from his family business.
With the city’s Pandemic guidelines far more relaxed than a year ago, Joe went all out with his party in late August this year. The annual outdoor party is a mix of mural arts, live painting, music, food, selfies, hip-shaking, sashaying, and a tint of a carnival atmosphere with thousands of people attending when the conditions are just right. The neighborhood is not today as it was ten years – New York is always changing and cool scenes are transitory.
Most of the light industry that used to be the engine of the neighborhood is long gone. There are some artists left, but most of the galleries were decimated by the Internet and suddenly rising prices of real estate. Many new restaurants, bars, clubs, pop-up selfie-focused “experiential” shows, and new shiny condo buildings have moved in amongst the existing Hispanic mix and settled. A once-new-cool creative neighborhood in New York City is again transformed into a series of consumer offerings for young professionals and their needs.
The cool kids are gone in search of cheaper rents, desolate streets, improvised salons, rooftops, abandoned spaces, and art experiments.
We reminisce as well because BSA supported Bushwick Collective at the very beginning and watched him rise above the detractors to transform the neighborhood with art from an international collection of painters, a million styles, and tough love.
Our first encounter with a so-called Bushwick Collective installation was rocky; a shouting match, demands to see our photographer’s photos, issuing threats of eviction from his turf – the public streets that the artist said he “owned”. Soon there was the summoning of burly “security” men to force our photographer Jaime Rojo from the neighborhood. But Jaime stood his ground and the dudes got over it, later apologizing. He returned to Bushwick a couple of hundred times since then with camera in hand, documenting the progress and the evolution. BSA still supports the mission of Joe, who walks the talk, proving himself as a passionate, positive force for artists and artistic expression in this neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Here are some shots of the new fresh offerings on the walls – many to celebrate the streets and the festival. Happy 10th Anniversary Joe.