Hurricane Sandy hit DUMBO, Brooklyn’s waterfront neighborhood, and hard. Heavy with non-profit art spaces, we wondered how many were doing after the storm.
Dumbo Arts Center stayed high and dry despite its location on Front Street, the neighborhood’s pulsing strip of shops and galleries just two blocks away from the East River. It helped that the gallery, like many in their building, is on the second floor. On Tuesday evening, Dumbo Arts Center Executive Director Karl Erickson told us, “Our building doesn’t have any power at this time, and we haven’t heard when it will be restored, but we fully expect it to be on in time for our opening of ‘A Wake’ on Thursday night.” A few hours later, Erikson added via email, “Hoping to have power back for a Saturday opening, but no confirmation yet.” The gallery has decided to postpone their opening tomorrow of A Wake: Still Lives and Moving Images, and the neighborhood-wide art walk scheduled to coincide with it has been cancelled.
A.I.R. Gallery , also located on Front Street, continues to reel from power outages; we tried to contact them, but their phone lines appear to be down. According to their email newsletter, this weekend’s opening has been postponed.
Out of all the galleries we contacted, Smack Mellon has fared the worst, suffering from flooding and power outages. The exhibition space and residency center overlooks the East River from Brooklyn Bridge Park. It also sits just 1/10 mile away from the ritzy Jane’s Carousel which endured rising waters upon Hurricane Sandy’s landfall Monday night. [Just look at the Instagram to see the carousel floating in the East River.] Needless to say, flooding appeared likely for the art center.
We contacted Smack Mellon’s Executive Director, Kathleen Gillrain, and she gave us a frank rundown of the situation:
“Unfortunately Smack Mellon’s artist studios were hit very hard. It’s going to take us awhile to clean up. We are still pumping out the water. Once the water is out we will be able to asses the damage to the studios and the artists’ work. The gallery is on the upper level of the space and did not get flooded.”
Smack Mellon’s artists-in-residence have been unable to enter their studios in order to assess any possible damage. Ghost of a Dream (Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom) shot us a quick email, telling us about the flooding:
“We cannot go in the studios as of yet due to flooding, and electricity issues. They are trying to pump it out, but it is going to be a while. When we can return, it is going to not be good, as it was 6 feet deep at the visible end of the hall, and who knows how deep in our studios.”
Skye Gilkerson, another current resident at Smack Mellon, cannot enter her studio either. “So far we’ve been asked to stay away from the studio for safety reasons, but I understand that the damage is very extensive,” she told us. Optimistically, Gilkerson added, “I went to great lengths to elevate my belongings, but I think that the water filled the whole studio.”
Still, DUMBO is not looking good. If you’d like to volunteer or donate to any of DUMBO’s art centers, send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll try to connect you to someone who can help, or you can make an individual donation to Dumbo Arts Center, A.I.R. Gallery, and Smack Mellon on their websites.