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GO is a
community-curated open studio project.

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May 22

Let’s GO

Over the years many people have asked me if we’d do Click! again and my general response has been to say that we wouldn’t do a repeat; that our answer would be to take the lessons we learned and do something different.  Four years later, our answer is GO: a community-curated open studio project and we hope you will participate in this ambitious undertaking. During GO, we are asking Brooklyn-based artists to open their studios, so that you can decide who will be featured in an exhibition, which will open here at the December Target First Saturday.

GO: a community-curated open studio project

You’ll find that some things about GO are similar to Click!—namely this is a Brooklyn-focused initiative where audience participation results in an exhibition at the institution—but this is where the similarities end.  Click! was much more about the “crowd” and, in that, we were specifically looking at the wisdom of a group of people unknown to each other creating something and exploring the end result of that aggregated data.  Simply put, what would happen when we applied James Surowiecki’s Wisdom of Crowds to art?

GO is much more people focused; it spotlights community and aims to foster personal interaction throughout the process to come to an end result that is a collaborative effort between artists, the public and the Museum’s curatorial staff.  The web will be used to help connect everyone and drive these ideas home, but it’s the people that will fuel this project, not the technology and this is a very important distinction.

During GO, artists open their studios and, as part of the guidelines, must be present during the open studio weekend to meet with visitors.  The public is asked to create profiles online, check in at studios and then nominate artists for inclusion into a group show at the Museum. Curators will use the same profile structure to open up the process of creating the resulting exhibition.

GO is about getting out into the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and seeing where art making is taking place, talking to artists, discovering spaces in your communities that you’ve never had access to before.  You’ll be using web and mobile technology to help you find the studios you’d like to see, but this project is about actually seeing art—in person, not online—and meeting artists prior to making up your own mind about it.  GO focuses on what’s happening within the communities of Brooklyn, fostering personal interaction and thinking about the Museum differently; more as a facilitator and a hub for your interaction.

Throughout GO, we’ll be blogging about how we’ve designed this project for participation, our inspiration and more.  We sincerely hope you’ll join us during this journey.

Let’s GO.

Jun 05

Calling All Brooklyn Artists!

When Shelley and I first started brainstorming the ideas that have now become GO, we were thinking about how to build upon some of the great things the Museum has done in the past.

One key question we kept asking was how can we advance some of the core concepts of projects like Click! and create something with even deeper public engagement. The other driving force was a deep desire to unite our connections with the local community with our commitment to Brooklyn artists.  At the crossroads of these threads we landed on GO.

We have a long history of exhibiting the work of artists in the borough (too long for me to mention here), but within the last ten years alone, the Museum displayed the seriesWorking in Brooklyn that culminated in Open House: Working in Brooklyn, the largest survey to date of artists working in Brooklyn with 200 artists; mounted exhibitions by Brooklyn artists including Fred TomaselliLorna Simpson, and an upcoming one by Mickalene Thomas; and organized the current Raw/Cooked series of exhibitions by under-the-radar Brooklyn artists. We also have a strong commitment to collecting work by Brooklyn artists.

Yet, even with these great projects, we wondered if there was a way to reach even more artists and to give the public greater access to Brooklyn artists. The Brooklyn Arts Council registry alone lists 6254 artists working here—too vast a number to be able to approach. We needed to figure out a way to access more of the great talent right here in our neighborhood (albeit a 73 square mile one!). At the same time, we also want to give the community a voice in the process and to see whose work you find interesting.

Open Studio Weekend September 8-9, 2012


GO starts with the artists and a willingness to be open about the conceptual and technical ideas behind their work. We hope that artists will be motivated to open their doors, engage with visitors, and talk about their work. In turn, those who sign up as participants will visit studios on September 8 and 9 and nominate the best of the best.

Artist Registration Now Open


If you are an artist working in Brooklyn, registration is underway and runs through June 29. Visit www.gobrooklynart.org to set up a profile and we’ll guide you through the process. (And, if you are not an artist, you still probably know someone who should sign up, so help us get the word out!)

Jun 27

Why I Hope Artists Will Participate in GO

I have received a wide range of questions about GO from artists. Some of the more skeptical ones have included “So, it’s a contest?” and “I probably won’t win, so why should I bother?” As you’ve heard from me in an earlier post, at the heart of this project is a desire to bring together the Brooklyn community around the tremendous creativity of artists here.

Imagine the energy of September 8thand 9th—artists will open their doors from Coney Island to Bay Ridge and Greenpoint to Bed-Stuy and beyond, and the community will be able to see the tremendous work being created in their neighborhoods and elsewhere. Yes, we ask that visitors nominate up to three artists whose work they saw over the weekend, and then we will select the art for the exhibition from the ten artists who receive the most nominations. That said, we hope that the participating artists do not look atGOas a contest or competition, but rather as an opportunity. Of course, we would love to harness all of the great activity happening in the borough and bring it back to the Museum, but limitations of space and schedule make that impossible (we now have over 1200 artists who have started the registration process!). Instead, we want to open up the curatorial process and to invite the community to be part of it. We’ve worked hard to design a nomination method that encourages thoughtful art viewing rather than a popularity contest.GOhas inspired and challenged my work as a museum curator, and I hope it will be equally exciting for you.

In the end, I hope that artists will be open to the range of possibilities in this project—including, but not limited to, the museum exhibition. For that reason, I created this list (with some input from artists):

  • It’s an opportunity to connect with your neighbors.
  • It’s an opportunity to be part of something that is bigger than you, your building, and your artist network.
  • It’s an opportunity to share your work, process, and vision with thousands of website visitors as well as those who visit your studio and get feedback from a wide ranging audience, including not only artists, curators, and critics, but also general art enthusiasts.
  • It’s an opportunity to be part of the Brooklyn Museum community.
  • It’s an opportunity to give back to your community by supporting arts and culture initiatives that in turn support you.

Artist registration is open now, but ends this Friday. Visit www.gobrooklynart.org to get started.

Jun 28

Why Artist Registration for GO Continues to Surprise Me

As Sharon mentioned in her post yesterday, we continue to get a lot of questions and wanted to answer a few of them prior to the artist registration period coming to an end. We see this one a lot, “I’m considering registering as an artist for this event, but I’m somewhat curious if there are any other artists participating in my neighborhood of Brooklyn.  In my experience, foot traffic is pretty light out where I am and before I commit to holing up in my studio for an entire weekend, I’d like to know if anyone is actually going to make the trek out there.”

As we go into our final day of registration, we are seeing that studios will open in 47 of Brooklyn’s 67 neighborhoods and the scope is both wide and surprising.  You’d think this might be all about high-traffic neighborhoods and while that area does have the most registrations, it’s not an overwhelming majority of them.  You may be interested to learn that 117 artist have registered in Bushwick, while Greenpoint has 113 and Sunset Park, 100.  What we’ve really been inspired by is how the project is reaching so many neighborhoods in Brooklyn with strong pockets of artist registration coming in from the areas of Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Cobble Hill…and so many more.  The project seems to really speaking to artists who don’t have access to the more structured open studios that happen every year in high density neighborhoods.  This is not something we expected, but something we are now incredibly proud of.

As you consider whether or not to open your studio, we want you to know that the more participants we have in the project overall, the stronger GO becomes. Simply put, more open studios everywhere will encourage greater visitation and that means more eyes on your work, which is one thing we hope to accomplish.

While we can’t predict visitor behavior on September 8 and 9, we hope you’ll broaden your thinking about what could happen.  How visitors will travel on these days may surprise all of us and we think it’s worth taking leap to see what happens. After all, as Sharon stated yesterday, there are a lot of good reasons to take part.

You have 1 day left to register your studio and publish your profile for GO.  If you need help, please see our support area.  Better yet, come to our artist info session and registration blitz at Dekalb Market tonight from 5-8pm.

Jul 17

1861 Artists Will Open Their Studio Doors Sept 8-9

When Sharon and I first started discussing the project that would become GO, one of our sources of inspiration was a map that the Brooklyn Arts Council had created of the artists in its Registry. What the BAC map showed was a stunning amount of artists living in Brooklyn and, for us, it became a reason and a symbol for moving forward with our own project.

Today we’re releasing our own map which shows the 1861 registered artists—across 46 of Brooklyn’s 67 neighborhoods—who will open their studios for GO. During the six weeks of artist registration, we’ve watched this map populate and we couldn’t be more excited and elated to share this with you today. Is this every artist in Brooklyn?  Of course not—there are many artists working without studios, decided not to open for GO or in transition of some sort, but for us it presents a powerful visualization showing where much of the art-making is taking place throughout the Borough. We hope you are as inspired by it as we are.

Our web team has been working incredibly hard over these last six weeks to bring you a full-featured website where you can explore all the artists who await you. Voter registration is now open, you can browse artist profiles and save studios to your itinerary. We encourage everyone to dive into the clickable version of this map and discover all the doors that will open to you on September 8-9.

Aug 01

Learning from ArtPrize

As we continue to move forward throughout the summer, it seems fitting to talk about the inspiration behind GO.  I’ve already mentioned that the Brooklyn Arts Council Registry had a big hand in helping us visualize how many artists were working in Brooklyn, but it was my first visit to ArtPrize that really galvanized my thoughts about what a next-generation community-curated process could be. ArtPrize is a publicly held art competition held every year in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The concept is simple: any artist in the world can bring one work to Grand Rapids and display it in a local venue.  Over a two-week period, the community looks at the work and votes for what they like; the winners get a monetary prize.

When you visit ArtPrize, you’ll find almost every place opens their doors to show art. Venues are what you would expect—bookstores, cafes, restaurants, galleries, exhibition centers—but there are also surprises—the dog shelter, a hairdressing salon, the Salvation Army, and local churches all serve as ArtPrize venues. As a visitor, it feels as if the entire city opens its doors and this openness fosters an incredible dialogue. Voting is just one part of the experience and not something every participant does, but art is everywhere and people talk about it. Simply put, I had never seen more quality engagement taking place at any arts-related event, and it left me wondering what would happen if we did something similar in Brooklyn.

I visited ArtPrize in 2010 with a group of friends and while we did not consider ourselves to be “art people,” we were thoroughly engaged by ArtPrize. The mural behind us is by Grand Rapids artist Erwin Erkfitz, who we found painting on the spot.

After my first visit to ArtPrize in 2010, Sharon and I started discussing what it would mean for the Brooklyn Museum to host a project like this. Knowing how Brooklyn and Grand Rapids differ greatly, we could easily see what worked in one location might not be easily replicated in another, but we also felt that the participation model would need to adjusted to suit the Museum’s goals.  How could we create a structure that would be less about voting and more about curation and collaboration? If we managed that task, how could we appropriately scale the project to span an area equivalent to the fourth largest city in the United States? The following year, the two of us travelled to ArtPrize together and we used the trip to really think through some of the participation models and what we thought might be the right fit for Brooklyn; we were also able to talk to ArtPrize staff about these ideas and were struck by how incredibly open they were to our finding inspiration in their project and making modifications that fit Brooklyn.

One similarity you’ll find between ArtPrize and GO is a reliance on people to participate in person, not online.  Digital tools may be used to help plan your visit and capture your interest in an artist’s work, but the primary focus is seeing art and being physically present to do so.  At ArtPrize, participants have to confirm their registration in-person in order to vote.  During GO, participants will go to studios and record their visit using the unique number that we assign each artist and they’ll only be able to nominate artists from the list of studios they visited. Both models encourage visitors to weigh-in on works of art after they’ve seen them in person.

At ArtPrize, participants can pre-register online, but they must show up with ID to confirm their registration on site in Grand Rapids.

The participation model also differs from that of ArtPrize where there’s a straight up/down vote into a top ten, then a re-vote within that subset to determine the top artists.  For GO, we ask participants to “check-in” at studios instead of voting right there on the spot.  If you want to nominate artists for the group show, you’ll need to “check-in” to at least five studios to be eligible to nominate three from the list of places you visited.  In this, we wanted to shift the engagement model to encourage participants to think about making choices, much like our curators have to do on a daily basis. By removing the “vote” from the event itself, we hope that participants will experience the weekend and let their thoughts marinate a bit before finalizing their nominations.

The staff at ArtPrize have been incredibly helpful throughout the process of conceptualizing GO. They’ve gone so far as to discuss what worked for them and what didn’t.  We’ve talked extensively about their data metrics and we’ve been able to take those lessons and insights and adapt them for our own participation model.  As we move past our open studio weekend on September 8 and 9, we’ll be sharing our lessons learned back to ArtPrize, so they, in turn, can learn from our experiences.

Aug 02

The Open Studio Model

As we’ve noted in our posts, the inspiration for GO came from two primary sources: ArtPrize and the long and burgeoning tradition of open studio weekends held each year in numerous Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Gowanus, Red Hook, and Bushwick. While ArtPrize sparked some of our earliest discussions, our ideas about what GO could achieve also grew out of our own experiences visiting artists’ spaces and our conversations with many of the organizers of local open studio weekends.

During our visits to open studio events in Brooklyn, we found that the basic element of an open studio event—experiencing art where it is created—creates an exchange with many benefits. Artists open their doors and invite neighbors and other visitors into what otherwise might be a private and personal workspace in order to elicit feedback on their work and gain broader exposure that might lead to other opportunities. Community members, in turn, get access to the creative process happening right next door and also gain entry into spaces that they might not otherwise see. These events, often held over a weekend, encourage personal interaction between artists and their communities with benefits to both sides. Inspired by these examples, we imagined a Brooklyn-wide event that would benefit artists and community members alike by bringing them closer together.

Participants discuss work at a recent open studio event in Brooklyn.

Once we identified the open studio model as what we wanted to pursue for GO, we wanted to consult with organizers in the borough who have become wonderfully adept at orchestrating these complex events with so many moving parts. We met with more than twenty people to discuss our initial ideas and the potential challenges we would face, and everyone was incredibly generous in offering their time and guidance. Shelley and I had some initial concerns that our idea might be met with some apprehension if it was perceived as competing with pre-existing neighborhood events. We were thrilled to find that everyone felt that more open studio opportunities would be welcomed by artists and, as a result, so many individuals graciously lent their advice and assistance. In fact, some went so far as to coordinate events to coincide with the GO weekend. In other cases, we saw the organizers of Bushwick Open Studios and SONYA Studio Stroll help us to promote GO during their own events. Some of the organizers have even become directly involved in GO as neighborhood coordinators. This spirit of collaboration is one we hope will continue to carry over to other stages of the project.

What did we learn from our conversations with neighborhood event organizers? We were immediately prompted to check the calendar of the Borough President’s Office. (We went through many possibilities and have avoided conflicts with major events like the Brooklyn Book Festival, Atlantic Antic, the Barclay Center opening, and the Dumbo Arts Festival.) We were told that consistent hours were absolutely necessary. (GO hours are 11am to 7pm Saturday and Sunday.) We were instructed to get as much information from artists about accessibility options and special instructions for their buildings, particularly since so many studio buildings can be difficult to navigate. (Artist profiles indicate if a studio is on the ground floor or has an elevator; is wheelchair accessible; has child-friendly art; is pet friendly; welcomes strollers; or requires other special instructions.) We were regaled with many stories of lessons learned the hard way about the importance of clear and consistent signage. (We have spent countless hours with our designer and editor devising our materials and conducting user testing.) We also heard loud and clear that even if we were developing an iPhone app with lots of bells and whistles, a printed map was a must. (The GO map is headed to the printer as I write.)

Clear signage is a must given the busyness of the urban landscape and buildings that may be difficult to find or navigate.

By melding the ArtPrize concept with the open studio model, we want to offer a unique experience—one that complements the local open studio tradition. Our aim is to highlight the great diversity of Brooklyn’s artists and neighborhoods, and to encourage as much exchange between the two as possible. This is also why we decided to deviate from ArtPrize model by asking participants to visit multiple studios, and by asking them to view work in progress and within the context of the workplace rather than in isolation. We hope this will encourage dialogue between artists and their public, and provide viewers with new opportunities to become integrated into the vibrant artistic communities located in their own neighborhoods and throughout the borough. GO is about art, artists, and community, and we cannot wait to see how a borough-wide open studio weekend brings these together.

Aug 16

Partnering with NYCHA for GO

GO is a project that’s rooted in community, but “community” is one of those words that can have a lot of different meanings. As Sharon and I conceptualized GO, we thought a lot about this—how is community defined for a project happening within the incredibly diverse communities of Brooklyn? There are some obvious answers here—we’ve talked about going local and how important that has been for the project, but we started to ask ourselves, what are the things that are unique to the communities of Brooklyn where artists are working?

In looking at the areas with the highest concentrations of artists, we noticed that studio buildings are quite often right next door to housing developments managed by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

As a resident of Red Hook, I see this every day. With 157 artists registered to open their studios for GO (purple dots on this image), some are a stone’s throw from the Red Hook Houses, the largest NYCHA housing development in Brooklyn, seen here in satellite view.

This proximity is something that felt unique to Brooklyn and the communities that GO would directly be engaging. We wanted to insure that GO would be a project open to every resident in Brooklyn, including residents of NYCHA housing. Working with our Vice Director of Education, Radiah Harper, we reached out to Sharon Myrie, Juan Santiago, and Wiley Lucero at NYCHA to see if they would partner with us; everyone was incredibly supportive of GO and the opportunity to bring these communities closer together. Our partnership also tied in with NYCHA’s new initiative, Plan NYCHA, as well as aligned with the work they had been doing with StudioNYCHA and continued an existing partnership with the Brooklyn Museum.

As Sharon and I researched open studios, one of the artists we visited in Red Hook said he really liked the open studio model because, for him, it was full of surprises. One year, his door was open and a group of kids from the Red Hook Houses came in to visit. He said he had the best time with this group and, even though his studio is just a block away from the housing development, he felt like he often didn’t have a chance to engage with his neighbors this way and his open studio allowed that kind of exchange to take place. Seen above, the Red Hook Houses sit right beside studio buildings in the area.

Over the spring and early summer, we worked together to develop a plan, and, as a result, Maya Valladares, GO’s Project Educator, is managing a team of ten teaching artists who will lead art walks during the open studio weekend. Walks will start from community centers in five NYCHA developments: Wyckoff Gardens (Gowanus/Boerum Hill), Red Hook Houses (Red Hook), Cooper Park (East Williamsburg/Greenpoint), Bushwick-Hylan (Bushwick), and Lafayette Gardens (Clinton Hill/Bedford Stuyvesant). As part of this partnership, NYCHA will be opening these community centers on Sunday for the first time and, not only will walks be based out of these locations, NYCHA will be offering art activities for residents.

Teaching artists working on the GO NYCHA partnership include: (back, from left) Veron Israel Williams, Joseph H. Falero, Paula Santos, Taeesha Muhammad, Edyta Halon, Pansum Cheng, Keneisha Turner, Juan Santiago, (front from left) Wiley Lucero, Maya Valladares, Laurel Shute, Melinda Yale.

As part of this program, teaching artists from the Brooklyn Museum have been paired with teaching artists from NYCHA staff. Each pair is reaching out to the NYCHA community centers, residents of the houses, and grassroots organizations to help get the word out about the collaboration. The pair will lead the walks during the weekend and participants will check-in and nominate artists using an iPad app specifically designed for these walks. When the GO exhibition opens in December, we will continue to work with NYCHA so participants can attend the opening and take in the show they helped create.

The programming we are doing in collaboration with NYCHA is something that our corporate sponsor, Deutsche Bank, really encouraged. Deutsche Bank is supporting GO through its Art & Technology program and in their own participation, they wanted to support an initiative that thought broadly about community and sought to enable all residents of Brooklyn access to both the process and the technology that would be used throughout.

Aug 23

Getting Beyond the Like Button

The open studio weekend is just 16 days away and as we get closer, it’s worth taking a look at some of the participatory design choices we’ve made and reasons why. Many people mistakenly think that GO is all about social media, that a quick “like” will decide what happens during the open studio weekend, but GO is designed for a specific type of participation that moves beyond “like” button mentality and fosters something much deeper.

During GO we ask participants to work pretty hard; they have to register, log their travels by “checking in” with unique codes, and see at least five studios in order to be eligible to nominate three artists. That may seem like a fairly involved and complicated process, but we believe these thresholds will engender deeper participation. Because of this participation model, we commonly get comments from artists like this one, “I reviewed what it takes to nominate someone and I really don’t think that ‘regular’ people will actually go through with it all.”

Artist Jason Polan breaks down the steps and shows people How to GO.

So, why do we make people jump through all these hoops? Requiring registration sets a high bar, but it gives all participants a way to identify themselves within the scope of the project.  In early phases, profiles allow participants to recognize each other in the studio, but in later stages of the project (nominations, curator visits) it becomes about continuing the dialogue online in a way that retains the feel of those open doors. The electronic “check-in” at studios is another step in the process, but it goes a long way to ensure that works of art are seen in person—an artist’s online profile is just a teaser to help visitors get interested in the work and then later remember what they saw, but we don’t want people judging work online where works of art are difficult to represent. Requiring a visit to at least five studios in order to nominate three is another high bar, but it allows participants to think more like curators. You have to make a choice, and by removing the nomination process from the open studio weekend, we hope to encourage participants to be more reflective in their choices.

Basically, you can’t just sit at home and vote online; and you can’t just go to your friend’s studio and vote on the spot. We want to shift the dialogue from the spontaneous “like” to careful consideration among many options.

The like button is easy, and while we don’t think participation in GO should be difficult, we do think we need to move away from the gold standard Facebook has forced upon us to something that’s more powerful and serves the needs of participants specifically taking part in this project.  Will everyone get beyond the like button during GO?  We sure hope so; participants may never register and might not pick up a mobile device, but if they find themselves in an artist’s studio on September 8-9, it’s likely they are already way beyond that ubiquitous little button, and in our minds, that is a success.

For those of you wondering if we have a Facebook page for GO, you’ll find that we don’t for many of the same reasons outlined here. During GO, we want to encourage participants toward a dialogue that takes place in the real world, and most importantly, in the studio. While you will see social sharing enabled throughout the GO website and we do encourage participants to share GO via their social networks and email lists, we believe that reaching out to your closest friends and supporters and asking them personally to stop by the studio will go a long way toward encouraging studio visitation and fostering deeper connections.

Sep 07

GO See Art in Brooklyn This Weekend!

Our borough-wide open studio weekend is finally here! On September 8th and 9th, more than 1800 artists across 46 neighborhoods in Brooklyn will open their studios to share their work with you from 11am to 7pm. We hope you’ll visit them.

Our team—including 2 organizers, 1 project coordinator, 21 neighborhood coordinators, many volunteers, staff across Museum departments, and our registered artists—have spent innumerable hours gearing up for this weekend. Even though Museum staff members are ineligible to nominate artists, we’ll be out in force visiting studios and offering support at our information spots. Shelley and I aim to see as many studios as possible, and we also know that our Director Arnold Lehman, Chief Curator Kevin Stayton, and many members of our curatorial team and other departments will be visiting artists as well.

Brooklyn Museum staff will be out seeing as many studios as possible during the open studio weekend.

While it might be a bit overwhelming with approximately 1800 artists from which to chose your visits, but remember, you only need to visit at least five studios to nominate artists for the exhibition. If you are a voter strategizing how to make the most of the weekend, one tip would be to visit the artists in your own neighborhood and then choose another neighborhood to discover. Consider starting at our main meet point at Borough Hall, which will be open from 11am to 7pm on both days, or pick up a map at one of the 30 info spots throughout Brooklyn (hours vary) or, simply, just start at an artist’s studio when you see a sign on the door. If you want to get started in advance, you can create an itinerary online and/or download our iPhone app.

All of the hard work that has gone into GO has really been about this weekend. The personal exchange between artists and neighbors is what counts here. While we do have a check-in and nomination process as a way to bring all of the excitement and energy of the open studio weekend into the Museum for a group exhibition, this project is first and foremost about art and community. If a visitor goes to studios, but never checks in or nominates artists, we still consider that a great success.

Whether you register in advance or not, the most important thing is to GO.  

Sep 20

Moving Toward an Exhibition with 9,457 Nominations

As you saw in Shelley’s previous post, we were thrilled about the level of participation over the open studio weekend. At the same time, we remained anxious about how many of the 4,929 eligible voters (those who checked in to more than 5 studios) would continue their engagement into the nomination phase. We anticipated that we would lose some people, but again, as has often happened with GO, we have been pleasantly surprised with the results.

Our nomination period ended on Tuesday night. We received 9,457 nominations over seven days. Of the eligible voters, 78% of them took the next step to recommend artists. While we allowed visitors to select up to three artists, many chose fewer—23% nominated 1 artist; 10% nominated 2 artists; and 67% nominated 3 artists.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this phase, however, has been that many visitors also took the time to leave provide comments and feedback. Using the virtual guest book feature on the website, visitors left a total of 2,289 comments for artists, ranging from short notes such as “great work” to longer, detailed ones about experiences in the artists’ studios. We have also received 361 responses via “Share Your Story.” These have run the gamut from surprises and disappointments to troubles with technology and the MTA, but almost always offering advice if we repeat the project. We will be releasing this feedback in its entirety on the website, but in the meantime, we are highlighting selected stories on the homepage.

So, what happens next?

We will announce the names of the top ten nominated artists on or about September 25. We are looking at the results with a careful eye (and some fancy programming) to ensure that each artist who has been nominated is eligible according to our terms. I will then visit those artists’ studios along with a curatorial colleague and select the work for the exhibition. The featured artists will come from those nominated by the community, but the focus and structure of the show (particularly what themes may emerge from conversations with the artists as well as how many artists will be included) is all up for grabs.  



In the meantime, our web team has also been analyzing the statistics from the weekend to better understand the activity. As a bit of a teaser, we have added a heat map to the homepage, which beautifully visualizes the overall activity over the weekend.

Stay tuned.

Sep 25

Unexpected Traffic Patterns

We expect to announce the nominated artists tomorrow; we’re running just a little bit behind schedule. In advance of announcement, we wanted to share some of the neighborhood data and think about what happened over the open studio weekend in context and in relation to some the feedback we’ve received.

Throughout GO, participants have expressed concern about the process being unfair. We’ve been asked if we’d weight results or adjust data to create an even playing field, but our answer has always been that we’d let the data stand as is; we simply didn’t know enough about traffic patterns or participation from the outset to create a model that would work for everyone. We felt it was best to let the weekend play out and look carefully at the resulting data to see if we would need to make adjustments in possible future iterations of the project. That said, we expected things to surprise us and they did.

Many participants were concerned that studios in low-density areas (i.e., not typical “artist hubs” like Gowanus and Bushwick) would receive less foot traffic and thus be at a serious disadvantage in an event like GO. If you look at the neighborhoods with the most check-insGowanus (6442), Red Hook (5800), Sunset Park (4751), Bushwick (4128), Greenpoint (3959)
at first the findings seem to align with these concerns. However, if we dig just a little more deeply, we find the data reveals far more nuanced results. 

Gowanus, Red Hook, and Sunset Park had something in common; each had many studios, most within easy walking distance and some buildings with large concentrations of artists (Brooklyn Art Space, Screwball Spaces, and Chashama, respectively). As a result we saw a higher than average rate of check-ins per studio; basically, a visitor could go into one of these neighborhoods and rack up a bunch of check-ins all at once. However, those same areas were below average in terms of the amount of visitors in relation to number of studios open. In other words, even though there were a lot of studios with high numbers of people checking in, the ratio of visitors to open studios was relatively low in comparison to other areas.

Gowanus vs. Boerum Hill traffic

Along the same lines, if we look at Boerum Hill, Prospect Heights, and Ditmas Park, these neighborhoods were not the densest in terms of studios (particularly Ditmas Park), but all had above average visitor-to-studio ratios. Relative to the number of studios, these neighborhoods actually had much higher traffic than the denser neighborhoods of Gowanus, Red Hook, and Sunset Park.

It was interesting to see Bushwick as a bit of an outlier in all of this, especially given the amount of feedback we received assuming this area would have all the visitation. With 241 artists opening their doors, Bushwick had the highest number of open studios of all neighborhoods participating in GO. However, not only did Bushwick receive below average foot traffic (number of visitors relative to the number of studios), but it also received a below average rate of check-ins per studio. This left us wondering about possible reasons; we think several possible factors are at play.

Many artists in Bushwick told us they felt like the requirement for artists in their studios during the weekend hampered visitation. The same people commenting added that those often visiting their studios during open studio events have been fellow artists, and our requirement curtailed typical artist-to-artist visitation patterns. We should acknowledge the incredibly successful Bushwick Open Studios just took place in June and could account for voters going to other neighborhoods where they had not yet had a chance to explore. Our data supports this theory by showing 61.7% of the check-ins logged by voters with Bushwick zip codes were for artist studios outside of the neighborhood, so Bushwick voters were seen casting a wide net in their studio visits. Lastly, we have to remember our data is only based on those who actually checked-in to studios. A common refrain we heard out of Bushwick was participants didn’t feel the need or want to vote, so foot traffic might have been higher, but it was not registered online.

After the nominated artists are announced tomorrow, we will look closer at how these kinds of traffic patterns impacted nomination data, so stay tuned. One thing we do know is almost all of what we’ve seen has run counter to what many had assumed.

Corinne Hoener, our Web Developer, compiled all this data, analyzed it extensively, and co-authored this post. If you’d like to take a deeper look, she’s posted the raw data.

Sep 26

Your Ten Nominated Artists

After approximately 147,000 studio visits to 1,708 artists, and then 9,457 nominations, we have our top ten nominated artists.

GO Nominated Artists

In alphabetical order:

  • Aleksander Betko, Cobble Hill, painting and drawing
  • Jonathan Blum, Park Slope, painting and printmaking
  • Adrian Coleman, Fort Greene, painting
  • Oliver Jeffers, Boerum Hill, painting, illustration, and drawing
  • Kerry Law, Greenpoint, painting
  • Prune Nourry, Boerum Hill, photography, video/film/sound, and sculpture
  • Eric Pesso, Ditmas Park, sculpture
  • Naomi Safran-Hon, Prospect Heights, painting
  • Gabrielle Watson, Crown Heights, painting
  • Yeon Ji Yoo, Red Hook, mixed media sculpture

We are pleased to have such a mix of artists represented in this group, including painters, illustrators, sculptors, and installation artists. Painting clearly ruled with seven of the ten artists being self-identified painters. At the same time, we note the absence of design, fashion, and textile arts, and also that photography, video, and performance are represented only in Nourry’s work.

The results were also a bit surprising in terms of the weekend activity, as was hinted at in Shelley’s post on unexpected traffic patterns. Nine neighborhoods are represented, but they are not the neighborhoods that most people were predicting to be the hot spots. Shelley will be delving into these results to show how visitation may have shaped nominations, so stay tuned as we report on this more.

As we have discussed along the way, this project aimed not only to bring artists and their communities closer together, but also to open up the curatorial process. While most of our exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum have the standard model of being curator conceived and organized, we recognize the value in considering other models. Most recently, our Raw/Cooked series features under-the-radar Brooklyn artists nominated by an artist advisory committee and then selected by Eugenie Tsai, our Curator of Contemporary Art. 

With GO, we established a collaborative process where we invited the public to visit studios and then nominate artists before Museum curators would visit the top artists and make the determination of those to be featured in the exhibition, and the work to be included. This will undoubtedly be a difficult task, particularly given the great range of work and the strong support for these artists. Nonetheless, we are committed to creating the best exhibition possible within these parameters, and that will mean making some tough choices.

Over the next month, we will visit these ten artists’ studios and begin highlighting them one by one on our website. By November 15th we will announce the featured artists for the exhibition, which will open on December 1, 2012 during our Target First Saturday evening.

Sep 27

The Sweet Spot

With the artist nominations just announced, we wanted this next post to take a critical look at the nomination data and consider the results. Remember this heatmap of check-ins over the weekend?

At first glance, most people looked at this map and assumed the majority of nominees would be coming out of the hottest of hot spots, but the resulting nominations are surprising because they run counter to these assumptions. Compare to the heatmap of nominations:

You can see what’s happened herenominations were dispersed throughout. Even though an artist may have been in a high density building or even a hotspot, the nominations in those areas were dispersed among the many studios open. Was there something in the traffic patterns and the resulting metrics that meant a confluence of events could occurwas there a sweet spot?

Corinne Hoener, one of our web developers, is going to show us a couple of examples:

There were 1708 artists in 758 buildings with open doors for GO. Of those buildings, 188 housed multiple studios. If we look at the data on our top ten artists, six of the ten were in multiple-studio buildings, and five of those six were in buildings with 8-15 studios, such as 925 Bergen and Invisible Dog (both had 15 studios). Naturally, this led us to wonder if 8-15 studios is a “sweet spot” in terms of having enough studios to draw visitors to your building, but not so many that visitors are overwhelmed by choice. If we crunch the numbers, it certainly looks that way.

On average, an artist’s studio saw 30.35 check-ins, but artists in buildings with 8-15 studios had higher than the average with 44.09 check-ins. On either side of this sweet spot, there were fewer check-ins; artists in buildings with fewer than 8 studios had 22.92 check-ins and buildings with more than 15 saw 40.94 check-ins.  Studios in buildings with 8-15 studios also received about two more nominations than average. That might not sound like a lot, but with tight margins like we have, two additional nominations can make all the difference.

Speaking of nominations, it’s important to remember that an individual visitor can check-in to as many studios as they want, say 100 or more, but they can still only nominate up to three artists. So if we’re digging into the numbers behind our top ten artists, we have to consider the number of visitors to their studios. And again, we can see a sweet spot effect for those buildings with 8-15 studios.  Among our top ten artists, studios in buildings with 8-15 studios saw on average 223.25 unique visitors. These buildings had, on average, 12 studios in them, so there is an average visitor-to-studio ratio of 18.6. Contrast this with two mega studio buildings, which had an average of 72 studios in them and an average of 429.5 visitorsnearly double the average visitors that the studios in 8-15 buildings saw. However, since they also had about 6 times the number of studios, that leaves them with an average visitor-to-studio ratio of only 6.0.  There were far fewer visitors relative to the number of studios in these major buildings. And as we pointed out earlier, fewer visitors means fewer potential nominations.

There’s also some interesting data related to intra-neighborhood traffic, the visitors going to see artists in their own neighborhoods.  Across all the neighborhoods, an average of 32.69% of check-ins came from visitors who lived in or near that neighborhood. However, across the nine neighborhoods represented in our top ten, on average 42.07% of check-ins came from people who live in or near those neighborhoods. In fact, seven of those nine neighborhoods had intra-neighborhood percentages that were above average. It’s possible that this factor combined with a sweet spot (or even the high intra-neighborhood traffic alone) can help to boost nominations in a rally effect. Intra-neighborhood stats have now been added to the raw data, so you can take a look.


We should recognize that the artists who are in the top ten are there for a reason. Sweet spot or no, many artists were nearby (some even in the very same building), but it’s the work of these ten that resonated. Also, we didn’t see either sweet spot traffic or the rally effect cause a “sweep,” or dominance of one area or building in the nominations. Even so, as Sharon and I think about possible future iterations of the project, we wonder how can we avoid the sweet spot and continue to level the playing field.

Simply put, in order to lessen the effect of sweet spots, we need a critical mass. With 1,708 artists, we think we’d need at least 17,000 eligible voters going to at least five studios each.  Though we estimate we had 18,000 voters, only 4,929 were eligible to nominate artists; many of our participants were just visiting studios without checking in or nominating.  We both feel that the high bar to become an eligible voter is critical and non-negotiable in future; we would also want to continue encouraging all kinds of participation (voting and non-voting). Given what we saw this year, we think the metrics to get us to statistical significance and wisdom of crowds decision-making would be a tough uphill climb at any point.

As Sharon looked at the results, she found interesting work not only at the top, but also among the middle of our long tail (and beyond), so as we think about future iterations of the project, we find ourselves asking about participation models that could surface even more work for consideration.


The good news is, this first go round has given us an incredibly rich place from which to start. As we consider the future of GO, we can experiment with various ways to move forward using this year as a solid foundation.