Monday, June 20, 2011

a write up regarding the Brooklyn Arts Center.

Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews is a space that Wilmington needs, has needed. The renovated church is historic, roughhewn, storied, and renewed, like Wilmington itself. Located on fourth street in the Brooklyn Arts Community, St. Andrews has undergone years of efforts and talk towards a recycling into contemporary use; a local finally made it happen. The renovated church now offers an elegant option for many functions.

  1. Appearance
    Since its construction in 1888, the grandeur of the space is preserved by much work and love and time. Massive angles and receding curves offer a musical structuring of the space, working an American gothic style. The edifice is a vertical launch whose size constantly surprises. The facade is a mosaic of earthtoned bricks culminating in a grand spire looking towards the Cape Fear river and PPD and downtown. The inside was gutted into a vast & versatile openness with a stage/altar/focal point at the front. Massive pours of light enter the tri-paneled windows during the day, warming the white-toned walls against the fine-craft woodwork. Attractive ironwork hangs from the ceiling, housing the lights to illuminate nighttime functions. One has a sense of the American majestic that Southern communities sought, the residual influence of European cathedrals prominent and obvious, permeating with the American handicraft and emotive marvel that was a 19th century blend of faith and craft.

  2. A brief history
    Defiantly chic and elegant, the Wilmington landmark remains august after years of decay and neglect.  St. Andrews was a dominant church of the area for a century, serving for religious rites and community functions. Down the block is Goat and Compass and Acme Arts, and near that corner was a man whose memory of the space included his mother's funeral. He reflected on traveling from NYC on holidays to visit his family, and attending the church on those occasions. The neighborhood was once a vibrant and prominent community before succumbing to economic struggles and failing to corresponding blight.  The space has always been an important part of Wilmington.
    The original stained glass of St. Andrews was removed some time ago for preservation but I remember its partially boarded state, a patchwork of gorgeous pigmented glass and deplying panels of wood. This condition preceded its current hipness, when shit was degenerate and undesirable. Fourth street was rough and inaccessible up until seven/eight years ago, and on the cusp of transformation a handful of artists rented a warehouse caddy-corner from St. Andrews and installed a stainless steel bar and named it Art Asylum. Painters and artists worked in the partitioned space, threw a few parties, and we even had a broadway-styled musical debut there. A flower in blight, we survived for a while.
  3. A personal account.
    I remember breaking from painting and sipping coffee while watching the derelict foot traffic on Christmas 2002. The rusted fire escape to the front door of Art Asylum was frequently riddled with trash. The arts council housed below was anonymous and bunkered. I would have never predicted a resurrection of the neighborhood into something so revitalized and beautified. Certainly I would not have guessed that I would stand on an air-conditioned balcony to watch Galactic perform in that trashed building across the way, impressed with the design of the building, the acoustical tightness, the clean state of things, the grand light as sun set, the hardwood freshly varnished and worn in that charmed and comforting way old things can be. And I am grateful for the work and determination that went into putting Brooklyn Arts Center back into use.  It fills a vacuum in our community, connects something vital in our local patchwork culture.
check them out at http://www.brooklynartsnc.com/ where you can see pictures and get ideas of their offerings. 

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