IS IT THURSDAY YET? GETTING READY FOR A DUMBO GALLERY WALK
Alexandria Sica, executive director of the DUMBO Improvement District, gives a tour
By PAUL SAMULSKI
They’re not questions that normally come up in conversation: Do you think the neck of Botticelli’s Venus is too long? Are you inspired by the eerily painted dolls of Ipiales, Colombia? Want to see a video projected onto the Manhattan Bridge? If the answer to any of these questions is yes and you haven’t been to the First Thursday Gallery Walk in DUMBO, it’s time to get the event on your calendar. (In case you’re wondering, yes, all of the questions were inspired by recent Thursday exhibitions). The walks are sponsored by the DUMBO Improvement District and showcase public and performance art, photography and video art, tech arts, and music. Think of them like a mini-South by Southwest, just staged on Thursdays in DUMBO. We caught up with Alexandria Sica, Executive Director of the DUMBO group, to get some intel on the Walks and the neighborhood.
UrbanCoast: Tell us a little bit about the DUMBO First Thursday Gallery Walks.
Sica: They’re a neighborhood-wide celebration of the arts. There are about a dozen galleries that regularly participate and they all time their openings around this one date, so every month there are new shows to experience. The event draws thousand of people from DUMBO and beyond. Because the neighborhood is actually quite small, we stage many events in the hopes that we get lots of people to come and experience DUMBO.
UrbanCoast: How did the First Thursday Gallery Walks begin?
Sica: The idea originated back in the early 2000’s when DUMBO wasn’t quite what it is today. We, as a neighborhood, have a long history of supporting the artistic community. Two-Trees Management, which is responsible for much of the overall growth and recognition of DUMBO, realized that the arts were key to the allure of the neighborhood, so when they were developing their buildings, they always set aside physical space for galleries and/or subsidized arts organizations and gallery operators. The walks, which evolved over a period of time, were a way of both supporting and sharing our artistic community.
UrbanCoast: Do First Thursday events feature anything outdoors?
Sica: Of course. DUMBO is a great place to be outdoors in the evening. In addition to live music and DJ performances staged in the Archway under the Williamsburg Bridge, we also feature a series called Light Year, a dynamic show featuring videos projected onto the Manhattan Bridge. Bringing the indoors outside is something that I have always believed in.
UrbanCoast: How do the events reflect the neighborhood?
Sica: At least a third of the employees of our local tech companies have some sort of “artistic afterwork life.” They play in a band. They sculpt. They shoot and edit videos. They make things…and probably have an Etsy shop. We want to feature as much of this talent as we can, to as many people as possible.
UrbanCoast: So if it’s not a First Thursday, but you’re still in the mood for a walk, where are your favorite places to stroll in DUMBO?
Sica: I love the most recently opened section of Brooklyn Bridge Park which is right at the foot of Jay Street. It’s a lovely little oasis, hanging out over the water and it hasn’t really been discovered by the masses yet, but that will obviously change. Then there’s always any walk I take that has me end up in front of Jacques Torres Chocolate. Their chocolate chip cookie is truly spectacular. It’s also enjoyable just strolling around certain neighborhoods in Vinegar Hill which are filled with such history and charm.
UrbanCoast: What have you been watching, reading, or listening to lately?
Sica: Some of the things I’ve been soaking in are the performances of Taylor Mac at St. Ann’s Warehouse. He performs his 24-Decade History of Popular Music. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in New York. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks while I work out and right now I’m into All The Light We Cannot See (I like the long, epic novels) and “The Circus,” on Showtime, is must see political coverage.
Looking for more things to do around the East River? UrbanCoast.nyc