Friday, Nov. 22, 2013

On a Blossoming Arts Community: Washington Heights and the Bloom Gallery and Creative Ground

By Tyler Friedman
washingtonheights
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It is trivially true that a painter is a painter by virtue of painting paintings. The same holds for a craftsperson in any domain. Perhaps Aristotle was the first to notice this: “we become builders, for instance, by building, and we become harpists by playing the harp.” (Nicomachean Ethics 1103a2-3).

But it is an impoverished account that reduces the work of art to being a mere physical object. Another side of things lies latent in the very phrase “work of art,” provided we are willing to mine the double genitive for all it is worth. The work of art is also the work that the art does: the making salient of the overlooked; the articulation of heretofore mute meanings. From this vantage point, for example, Hitchcock and Kafka did not simply create films and literature. With their wealth of images and metaphors, they brought into existence a vocabulary for expressing the anxieties and neuroses of the twentieth century.

Upon visiting Washington Height’s new art space – the Bloom Gallery and Creative Ground – I was reminded that there is still another dimension to the efficacy of art: the founding and/or maintenance of communities. Without reservation, the Bloom folks describe their outlook as pedestrian. They like their art, affordable, and autochthonous. They encourage the latter quality with an open invitation to local artists to offer their works for display.

Perhaps you are not in the market for a new canvas. Perhaps your own masterwork needs freeing from the confines of your imagination. The Bloom Creative Gallery may be of use there too. For a nominal fee to cover the costs of materials, you can feed off the space’s complementary creative energies. Helpers are on hand for a helping hand and workshops are on the horizon – interested in the rudiments of drawing, painting, jewelry making, clay work, and recycled art?

The Bloom Gallery and Creative Ground is only the latest flower in the efflorescence of Washington Height’s art community. It neighbors on Samara Garden and Home, purveyors of knick-knacks ranging from vintage headwear to antique pianos to advertisements that have ceased to signify any product for purchase.

A hop and a skip gets you to Vliet St. Each block brings new questions: shall we try our hands (and lungs) at glassblowing? Will our eyes agree to stay open if we attend the midnight screening of the Hitchcock film at the Times Cinema? At which of the many restaurants shall we dine?

With every stroke of the brush, frame of the film, and toss of the clay on the wheel, Washington Heights communifies. Experience art in its working.

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