475 Kent for Sale! Actually, it already sold to real estate developers a year ago – Roughly 20 years after an active artist community brought this nearly abandoned old pasta factory to life and made it desireable.
475 Print # 1 Edition of 30. Rob Swainston . Alison Dell . Prints Of Darkness.
Today, those same artists and creatives are at the center of New York’s largest symbolic fight to keep artists in their live/work spaces, testing the letter of the Loft Law and the commitment to the people by the Loft Board. So far, nearly 50 families including older folks and children have been expunged from their spaces since the building was sold one year ago.
When you pay $56 million for a factory to turn it into a luxury loft building in Brooklyn, you probably kept some funds for lawyers to clean it out. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
There are multiple shades of color that wash over this brand new image by two artists who were married on the roof of this former pasta factory in 2001. Both accomplished professors (art and biology respectively) Rob Swainston and Alison Dell also began their print shop in the building in the mid 2000s, humorously called “Prints of Darkness”.
In one of the many incredible stories associated with the artists community at 475 Kent – three weeks after Swainston and Dell were wedded on the roof tenant and renowned photographer Robert Clark shot images of the 2nd plane hitting the World Trade Center from that same roof, a photo appearing on the cover of Time that week and in National Geographic among other publications.
475 Print # 2 Edition of 26. Rob Swainston . Alison Dell . Prints Of Darkness.
To help raise funds for tenants legal and architectural expenses here Swainston and Dell donate their talent, time, and print supplies for a very special release; a portrait of the building that made this a home and a community for 20 years of entrepreneurial artists, photographers, designers, musicians, filmmakers, curators, gallerists, publishers, writers, editors, teachers, models, programmers, architects, street artists, printers, sculptors, builders, fabricators, chefs, brewers, botanists, performers, and all their lovers, spouses, and kids.
Sales of the print will benefit the 475Kent Tenants Association and all funds raised will assist with legal and architectural expenses incurred as the building and its residents move through the legalization process under the Loft Law. A test case for the new 2010 Loft Law that provides protection for cultural creators like these, the process has been less than favorable according to a recent article by Ben Sutton in Hyperallergic: “If Things Were Going Well, We Wouldn’t Be Here”: Artists Protest NYC’s Loft Board”
Writes Sutton, “Despite a promise from Mayor de Blasio that he would defend them, New York City’s loft tenants feel more vulnerable than ever and are taking their concerns to the board charged with helping them.”
475 Print # 3 Edition of 23. Rob Swainston . Alison Dell . Prints Of Darkness.
You’ll be hearing more on the unique place that this building holds in the story of New York’s Arts community in coming months as residents will be adding to their legal war chest with fundraisers that have already received pledges of support from some of the biggest names in Street Art and photography, painting, food, and the plastic arts. True community builders, the activist spirit of the art scene here for two decades has already fought and won to fight off power plants by energy interests all along the riverside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 2000s, where thousands of school children would have been breathing polluted air.
They’ve fought for community gardens, funding for parks, protected bike lanes, and sane siting of waste-disposal plants, among other efforts. In January 2008 the entire building was evacuated, shoving 250 people out in two hours by the Fire Department because of dangerous conditions created by the matzoh factory that had been running in the basement for many years apart from the artists involvement. After actively mobilizing support from the City, the press, their politicians, the community board and the larger New York artists community and supporters, they helped the owners construct a new fire-safe sprinklers system among other things and moved back in the building en masse four months later.
Clearly this is a dynamic community of creatives that fights the good fight and you can help bolster their efforts today by bringing 475 Kent into your home.
Click on 475Kent.org .
Click HERE to learn more about Prints Of Darkness