Wandering in Prospect Heights

Walking in a westerly direction from my current apartment at Franklin and Park Pl. I was amazed by the number of new buildings that have popped up in recent years. Some are certainly ugly concrete blocks with ‘artful’ triangular windows, but others manage to blend and add character in equal measure. The neighborhood is changing. NYC is always in a state of flux. The longer I live here (it’s been almost 11 years now) the more tempting it is to feel nostalgic about how it was when I moved. I remember when anything east of Washington was ‘scary’ (for a white girl from Buffalo). I remember when Grand Space (the hippie colony on Bergen and Grand) was the only place with lights on for blocks. Now there’s a condo building down the street. Progress can make long time residents feel shut out, left behind. Who are all these yuppies with strollers? Why are there so many men with absurd beards and ironic tattoos? This is the way of the city. I wouldn’t have 1970s NYC back for all the cocaine fueled parties in the world. I’m glad that the city is safer, that new housing stock is being built, that organic produce can be purchased at Bob & Betty’s Market. I will admit that I wish brunch for one at Dean St. Cafe didn’t cost me $25 and that the line at Ample Hills Creamery was less than 25 minutes in duration, but I’m happy that they both exist. The rent is too damn high but I don’t believe that NYC is less vibrant, less artistic, less surprising than it was ten years ago, or twenty, or fifty. The city changes. The artists change.

This amazing and totally crazy piece of art by Swoon, which memorializes Red Hook after Sandy, is on display at the Brooklyn Museum. During a recent visit there were Caribbean immigrants, yuppies with strollers, old Jewish ladies and Hispanic families wandering through.

Currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum, Swoon: Submerged Motherlands.

Currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum, Swoon: Submerged Motherlands.

Is this piece of art less meaningful because it’s displayed at a museum? Rather than see it as overly establishment I would like to see the Brooklyn Museum as a vital and interesting venue because of their choice to display this piece of art. Where else would it find such a diverse audience? I don’t believe that art is only important when only a few people know about it; art is meant to be exposed to the public. NYC has always been a place where a vast variety of people have access to a vast variety of art. This is what makes it vital and exciting as a place and I don’t believe that this quality has disappeared. NYC is just as full of wonder as it ever was (but now you can take the subway at 2am and not be mugged).