Wishing you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year from myself, Douglas Turner and our board of directors: Emily Weiskopf, Max Estenger, Corinne Innis-Basabe, Fred Duignan, and Mia Grimes.
At the Architecture of Tomorrow, we are living for a great year of growth. In 2015, we set a very high bar and I’m happy to say achieved most of our goals. We launched our first season at AOT PROJECT SALON in January and continued through with a total six exhibitions, solo and group. The summer brought us the pilot launch of our education program in Brownsville with the support of State Senator Jesse E. Hamilton and sponsored by Community Solutions and The Brownsville Partnership. At its core, The Equal Education Initiative seeks to cultivate our privilege (education, availability, money) into neighborhoods like Brownsville that for decades have survived institutional neglect. This is a foundational organization ethic, that I experienced during my time in post-Katrina New Orleans with Common Ground Relief and working side by side with its founder, Malik Rahim.
I thank all of the artists who have shown their support in these founding months and let’s hope the founding years as well…
Sylvie Ball, Corinne Innis Basabe, Xavier Basabe, Sarah Blakely-Cartwright, Ian James Carr, Vito DeSalvo, Mike Drury, Fred Duignan, Max Estenger, Melinda Hackett, Victor G. Jeffreys II, Mary Jones, Jody Morlock, Larissa Nowicki, Lucio Pozzi, Jackie Rines, Walter Robinson, James Romberger, Josh Sachs, Lorenza Sannai, Steven Van Nort, Craig Watson, Emily Weiskopf
I’m not sure if I can express the level of gratitude I have and also the sheer amazement I experience on a daily basis, that I’ve finally found the thing that I should be doing. The immediate support I’ve received is comforting to the thinking mind and ultimately assuring that I am pushing in the right direction—even on those days when the challenge level is high and self-doubt lurks around the corner or wakes me up at 4am. I feel certain that a community has sprouted.
It should come as no surprise that for 2016 I would like to expand our platform and increase our impact as a nonprofit organization that seeks to support artists through enriching our local communities. To do that, our community has to grow.
In a few days, we will launch our first major fundraising effort in the form of a crowdfunding campaign and membership drive! This means I will be calling on collaborators who have never met me, don’t know me or have never heard of the Architecture of Tomorrow. Just the same, I am certain that this is what needs to happen. I stand confidently on our intentions and accomplishments.
I know if I were the one receiving this appeal I would ask the basic question: As an artist or supporter of the arts and positive community action, why should I become a member or make a one-time donation to AOT Project Salon?
Well, I feel that what makes AOT unique is its approach to community action. We define the word community in its most broad use, as it is intended. We exist to be an advocate of voice and resource to you, the artist, and equally to the communities where many of us live or our presence has intended and unintended consequences. Many of us live in Central Brooklyn, many of us don’t, however, a vulnerable community like Brownsville with its high concentration of poverty and joblessness, although out of our daily sight, is already experiencing the strain of displaced residence priced out of neighboring Crown Heights, as an example.
STAY UP TO DATE ON ORGANIZATIONAL NEWS AND OUR FUNDING CAMPAIGN LAUNCH
Active parents of Brownsville have asked for better educational resources for their children and themselves, and AOT seeks to answer that call. Art is a powerful tool of engagement, and the cultural history of Brownsville has always had a strong component of extra-curricular arts and education. Mother Rosetta Gaston (1881-1985), founder of the Brownsville Heritage House was an early advocate of substantiative enrichment for children and adults. I say all of this because you can’t just waltz into a neighborhood claiming you’re there to save them. Our art education program was just awarded the “Brownsville ChangeMaker” distinction by the local NYCHA community, and seeks to become recognized as an innovative approach to social change, beginning with children. The education program is a vehicle that will entrench us positively within our communities. Anyone reading this, I will wager, appreciates a culturally enriched education—many of you have had the privilege of solid beneficial arts programming in your public education and take it as a given resource. That’s just not true for a lot of kids growing up. As an individual, you have the power to bring equality and as has been demonstrated will have a greater impact when working within a collaborative effort. As a contributor, you can feel confident that your resources are directly impacting our ability to advance our community-based efforts, which will have an immediate positive impact on those we serve.
For everyone’s enjoyment, we hope to launch our Podcast by the Spring of 2016. The podcast will focus on the intersections of art and cause, dialoguing with artists and art professionals, as well as those who engage in practices and fields that correlate with our mission.
Specific to artists, we currently have a physical space in Williamsburg, just east of the BQE. The AOT Project Salon is located at 159 Hope Street. It is a unique space—a two-story chalet/cabin/bungalow/townhouse with vaulted ceilings on the second floor which we use as our gallery and event space.
And yes, I currently live there as well. Our space is primarily funded by operating as a guest house or anything else that brings in funding (pop-up markets, events, screenings, film and photo shoot location). We are a stone’s throw from the Metropolitan/Lorimer L & G train station and 10 minutes walk to the JM lines, enabling us to attract Manhattanites and very convenient for those living in Brooklyn and LIC. We would like to match our 2015 year in terms of number of exhibitions (6) and if finances allow we can do more. In addition, we hope to add public events such as round table salon nights, artist talks and dialogues. As our resources grow, so too will our efforts to provide valuable resources to our artist members. We will be seeking funding for off-site exhibitions and events to support multi-disciplinary approaches to making art. This is a grassroots organization that is founded on the belief that through collaborative efforts the kind of art and actions that make waves can and will happen. That belief extends itself into our community efforts with the understanding that our presence as artists often symbolizes the first sign of gentrification, yet our community needs affordable housing too. But also, our actions in the communities we call home must become more aware of “Its” own presence and seek ways to unify with our neighbors. So yes, eventually our efforts will take aim at New York’s housing crisis. One step at a time though.
Our education program will need volunteer-power, however, I would like to add that I have designed an educational model which includes paid artist-teaching positions, supported by student mentors. In addition, I would like to see T.E.E.I. implemented within community organizations. That could change in the future, however, I believe for the program to thrive in its early stages of innovation it must remain free from systems that may limit its experimental approaches.
Becoming involved with the Architecture of Tomorrow at its grassroots phase, I believe, is an opportunity for empowerment. We need people with ideas that need the incubatory structure of an organization, something I experienced with my first New York curatorial initiative for Lambastic’s, Last Supper Festival—these days existing only in digital archival form.
Very important to the cause is an organization that seeks to disband all forms of inequality. We began as an intergenerational, gender equal, multi-ethnic collective. These will always remain at the helm of our cause. Our Mission states:
We fill a gap in arts programming and curatorial initiatives creating diversity through action that consciously works for all people and with/for people of color and communities of color, engaging in contemporary art dialogues beyond community-based initiatives that fail to challenge the status-quo.
In the midst of so many cultural and global revelations aggregating in our news feeds and for some of us in our daily lives, I have set the bar high for the intended purpose of this organization. As a nonprofit, in the coming months, our goals are to become financially sustainable. We will do this through private and public funding, as well as become a 501(c)(3). We will also expand our programming for artists, art education program for youth, and begin our podcast. I hope that you will join us by becoming a member or making a one-time donation.
Ofc: (929) 324-1117
159 Hope St., Brooklyn, NY 11211