by Andrew Rosenberg, 01/28/2014
Courtesy, Proteus Gowanus
Perhaps not surprising in an area of disused factories and warehouses, a thriving art scene has descended, its participants in search of cheap rent, open space and a place to display their DIY spirit. No gallery has been more formative than Proteus Gowanus (in the former National Packing Box Factory, the faded letters of which are visible from the Union Street side of the building; entrance is around the corner on Nevins), almost more of an incubator these days for curious projects and displays. To wit, the Reanimation Library curates a collection of out-of-circulation titles, many focusing on specific disciplines—great for when you need to learn The 99 Critical Shots in Pool (coauthored by one Ray "Cool Cat" Martin) or reference the World Treasury of Mushrooms in Color. In another exhibition space, Bkbx displays works that are textile heavy and environment focused, while the Morbid Anatomy Library and Museum is a cabinet of curiosities that champions taxidermy—and offers classes in the discipline. History buffs will enjoy visiting Proteus' Hall of the Gowanus, which holds artifacts of the canal and neighborhood that date back hundreds of years; flip through old newspaper clippings from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle to catch up on crimes of the times. Just down the street, The Green Building takes up a late-1800s brass foundry. Since the business ceased in the 1980s, the building has hosted religious services, club nights and private affairs; a space in the complex is dedicated to the Show Room, which tends to feature promising young NYC artists; its tall white walls and glass patio doors make it a bright, soothing spot to view work. Plenty of other neighborhood artist spaces abound; indeed, around 200 artists took part in an open studios event in fall 2013, sponsored by Arts Gowanus.