Circus of Dreams performing at Bizarre. Photo courtesy of Bizarre.
For those who want to enjoy New York City‘s arts scene beyond the mainstream offerings, head to Bushwick in Brooklyn. One of the city’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods for the arts, you’ll find everything from offbeat circus acts to experimental theater to open-air art galleries. To help you explore avant-garde Bushwick art and performance, here are our top picks.
Have an avant-garde experience to add? Let us know in the comments below.
Located at 12 Jefferson Street, Bizarre Bar is an offbeat bar that feels like something out of a Tim Burton film. The dimly-lit space is filled with religious statues, mis-matched lamps, mannequin legs, skeleton dolls, antique chandeliers and worn chairs and sofas for a comfortable and eclectic feel. Bizarre is known for serving top-notch absinthe cocktails and hosting x-rated freak shows and eccentric performance art acts. Almost every night you’ll enjoy live entertainment, from burlesque shows to open mic nights to psychedelic live music shows to circus performances. We recently went to see Circus of Dreams perform at Bizarre, with a few of the many shocking highlights being a woman reading a poem before covering her body in melted chocolate and having audience members eat it off; a man smashing beer and wine bottles over his head and playing in his own blood; a guy manically jamming swords down his own throat, one of which was attached to marionette so he could put on a puppet show with his face being the stage; and two people in Hazmat suits connecting people from the audience by a long rope and maneuvering it so they became human puppets. Overall, there was a lot of nudity, shock value and freak flags flying in a very positive way.
Graffiti down Troutman Street.
Walk down Troutman
One of the most inspiring strolls you can take in Bushwick is down Troutman Street between Wycoff and St. Nicholas. It’s like walking through an open-air art gallery, with innovative works of colorful commissioned outdoor artwork. Taking this walk is a great way to immerse yourself in Bushwick arts culture and have your own creative passions ignited by local artists.
Bushwick Starr. Photo courtesy of Bushwick Starr.
See A Show At The Bushwick Starr
Located at 207 Starr Street, The Bushwick Starr is a performance space that puts on a mix of theater, dance and puppetry with a tendency to attract avant-garde acts and experimental fare. The small theater has only 60 seats, allowing you to feel like you’re part of the show. Audiences have the chance to see emerging creative individuals as they support “serious artists in a moment of exploration” and offer a refuge “held away from high production costs and expectations.” Some upcoming performances you can see include “Plum de Force,” (September 5-8, 2013), which analyzes the connection between a plum’s life and the brutal history of witch hunts; “RoosevElvis” (October 9-November 7, 2013), which looks at two of America’s most notable icons; and “Actress Fury” (January 29-February 15, 2014), a dance piece where three separate performers act as the same tormented actress as she plays the roles of Ajax, Nijinsky and a mother escaping an erupting volcano.
Dance at Socrates, an arts event put on by Norte Maar. Photo courtesy of Norte Maar.
Explore The Galleries Near The Morgan L Stop
In recent years there has been a trend of galleries from nearby neighborhoods like Williamsburg moving to Bushwick to be a part of the burgeoning arts scene. Start your tour of Bushwick art at English Kills (114 Forrest Street, open Saturday and Sunday 1pm to 7pm and by appointment), a space representing over 15 artists through solo shows with multimedia exhibitions. Next head to Storefront Bushwick (16 Wilson Avenue, open Saturday and Sunday 1pm to 6pm ) where you can see innovative works by emerging local artists through their gallery, exhibitions and live performances. And at Norte Maar (83 Wyckoff Avenue), which is housed in a ground floor apartment in Bushwick, see collaborative projects between artists, dancers, writers, composers and other creative individuals. Keep in mind around the Morgan L isn’t the only place to explore the arts in Bushwick, as there are galleries and exhibition spaces — including artist apartments — littered throughout the neighborhood.