A Mutable Feast: Street Art in Brooklyn at the Bushwick Collective

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Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Brooklyn. This should come as a surprise to most of you, as I’m not exactly shy about my aversion to New York’s “hippest” borough. Part of said aversion stems from the fact that, like vegans and marathon runners, people who live in Brooklyn are usually apt to tell you within sixty seconds of meeting them how they live in a converted warehouse loft apartment near a great bodega and a bar that serves “uh-mazing” Scandinavian-Indian fusion small plates. I mean no offense to my Brooklynite friends, who are some of my favorite people in New York and don’t generally announce their Brooklynness to anyone who will listen, but they are usually the exception and not the rule.

The second reason I haven’t spent much time in Brooklyn is related to the fact that when I first moved here nearly two years ago, I was so fresh-off-the-boat to New York that I still thought Times Square was cool. I voluntarily chose Starbucks over the other myriad (and infinitely better) coffee houses. I thought Central Park was the *only* park worth visiting. I didn’t venture further north than 100th street or farther east than 5th Avenue. I was a total obnoxious cliche newbie who was too busy exploring the island of Manhattan, and even then in a limited (read: midtown) scope…I didn’t have time for Brooklyn.

Furthermore, travel between the outer boroughs is a nightmare – it can take me up to an hour and half to get to some parts of Bushwick (which in theory is like, 6 miles away) because the trains from Queens only go west into Manhattan, where you have to change to another line heading east and south into Brooklyn.  The MTA can’t even extend one subway line north four stops without spending millions of dollars in too many years on a two-part project, so seamless inter-borough travel is nothing but a pipe dream – it probably won’t ever happen in my lifetime. Not to mention the fact that for the last year I was dating someone who *also* hated hipster haven – which gave me even less incentive to go.

Have I given enough reasons for my dislike of Brooklyn yet?

In any case, recent events have sent me into New York’s trendiest neighborhood on a few different occasions, and I have to say…I’m warming up to the borough. Partly because of some amazing summer weather that was just begging for an adventure, but mostly because I saw my blogger friends’ (Lynn & Justin over at Mad Hatters NYC) amazing post about the Bushwick Collective, I decided to brave the L train and check it out myself.

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The Bushwick Collective is essentially an outdoor, ever-changing “museum” of street art located just off of the Jefferson L on St. Nicholas Ave in Bushwick. It’s totally free and open to the public so there’s no set itinerary, tickets, entrance, etc. – just your own two feet and maybe Google Maps if you’re like me and get lost in your own backyard. As you’re walking down the street, you’ll see walls lined with dozens of colorful murals graffitied along the walls, on garage doors, flower beds, building facades – on pretty much any paintable surface. Some of the murals were fun, some political, some ironic, many meaningful, and all were eye catching. Because the nature of graffiti is itself transient, the art is constantly changing. It would be almost impossible to visit the same Collective twice, so if you’re ready, grab a camera and snap away the ephemera for those insta-likes:

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I was hooked as soon as I saw this mural – as a longtime street art AND Charlie Brown fan (I even dressed up as Lucy for Halloween last year!), and one who has fallen victim herself to the pitfalls of social media and Fakebook likes, this one hit home. It was probably my favorite one.

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If you’re scrambling for an authentic New York experience, or have out-of-towners just dying to see Brooklyn because they’ve heard about how cool and trendy it is (if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em), look no further than the Bushwick Collective. The best part is, this idea will never grow old – it will be new to you as well each time you go!

4 Comments

  1. Mad Hatters NYC

    So many great picks! It’s uncanny, we feel the exact same way about Brooklyn! We actually started out as fans, then felt like it kind of spiraled into this weird hipster-artisanal parody of itself. (This captures it perfectly, by the way: “converted warehouse loft apartment near a great bodega and a bar that serves “uh-mazing” Scandinavian-Indian fusion small plates”). Birds of a feather!

    And thanks for the mention! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. girlingothamcity

      haha really?! That’s so funny! I feel like it’s such a controversial stance to take against everyone’s beloved Brooklyn (how DARE you say anything bad about the borough that houses Williamsburg!) that it’s rare to find anyone who feels (or admits to feeling) the same. I totally agree with you – it IS a parody of itself. Also, people like to refer to Astoria as “the new Williamsburg,” but Astorians hate the comparison! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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