Thursday, February 16, 2012

Much Happening At Brooklyn Workshop Gallery On Hoyt Street

painting by Cecile Romat
 Mural painted by neighborhood children and families with artists Ian Hart, Amani Ansari and Deborah Farnault
artist/dancer Amani Ansari at work
It is easy to miss the small storefront on this quiet stretch of Hoyt Street near the corner of Third Street, but walk through its door and you enter a welcoming space, full of inspiration and beauty. This is the  'Brooklyn Workshop Gallery', home of the Workshop Gallery Artists Foundation, a non-profit organization founded three years ago by Martine Bisagni.
This community atelier focuses on cultural events and neighborhood outreach through lectures, art shows, concerts and free classes.
In the past, artists like Cecile Romat, Rina Peleg, Gary DiPasquale and Deborah Barlow have exhibited here, and some of their work still lines the walls and shelves of this bright, sun filled space.
"We fell madly in love with the space." Bisagni tells me as she shows me around Mr. D’Agostino’s former coal shop which once supplied the neighborhood. (As a tribute, Bisagni keeps some black coal lumps found in the window.) The space was renovated with repurposed materials. Much of the granite and marble surfaces were donated by Luciano Granato, who was closing his stone cutting business in Red Hook. "We fell madly in love with the space" Bisagni tells me.
For Bisagni, herself a photographer, part of Workshop Gallery Artists Foundation's mission is "to promote and facilitate the process of keeping traditional art craft alive and vibrant in our world."
"If a culture loses the ability to make things, it loses so much," she tells me. "Without appreciation, there is no creation."
To this end, the gallery hosts a "Free Art Saturdays" for children and their families. This season's schedule will include Earth Day, Movement and Form Day, a day for South Africa and a mural day.
While we speak, Amani Ansari, a dancer and artist, is forming the most delicate roses out of clay at her pottery wheel. The blooms are for an upcoming Mother's Day project.
Martine Bisagni would like to expand into an empty lot right next door. She would like to turn it into an open air community art space, where old and young can come to explore and create.
In her own words:
"The lot at 395 Hoyt Street has become available for rent. Workshop Gallery Artists Foundation is hoping to sponsor a private community garden open to the public for gardening, art, performance, and community events.
We need the help of the neighborhood in order to make this possible.
We envision this as a space to extend our free Saturday art programs for children and their families including the very successful murals as well as for a gardener-in-residence and a sculptor-in-residence during the warmer months with regular open-to-the-public hours where children and their families actively engage in creative play with the earth, clay and art materials. We envision a screened platform area for workshops and classes, many of which, funding permitted we would offer for free to the general public. We envision a space where local performers and artists could showcase their work in a more casual way than the theatre (and at little or no cost). We envision a space where a Carroll Gardens Art Festival could be held and those working with the canal could open their work to the public.
We would gladly open it to the neighborhood to be available for their use and enthusiastically welcome your ideas to this project. Please stop by the gallery, call at 718.797.9427 or e-mail to"

Daily: 12 - 7 closed Mondays
Weekends: 12 - 6
1 718.797.9427
To get information on upcoming events at BWG, follow the gallery on Facebook


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


That was a really nice piece you wrtoe for the BWG. Martine and her organization have been HUGE supporters of the arts and have been extremely generous with their time in the community. For the past several years they have donated their time and materials to face paint thousands of children during the annual pumpkinfest which we host.

Since I spoke with Martine last I'm not sure where the negotiations stand with the owner of the lot next door, but I think it would be great for the community if Martine was able to make a deal with them. I'm familiar with what the landlord is asking for rent as well as what Martine can afford. I would love to see Martine get some support from local businesses to help make up the difference. I have already informed Martine that we would be willing to make a donation every month to help offset the rent of the open lot, maybe we can help her get a few more businesses to do the same!! Maybe someone has other ideas for how they can raise money? In any case, I think it's important that we get together and try to help this great organization.

Thank you,
Matt Mazzone