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Brooklyn Academy of Music opens its first gallery for visual art

The exhibition space, named after trustee and art collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, launches during annual New Wave Festival with works by Glenn Kaino

Glenn Kaino, Spill (2019)

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) opens its first-ever space dedicated exclusively to visual art tomorrow. The 1,100-square-foot Rudin Family Gallery, which is named after the trustee and art collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, will be part of the institution’s $38m BAM Strong complex on Fulton Street, a recently completed construction designed by Mitchell Giurgola Architects that connects three existing theatre spaces in the Fort Greene neighbourhood of Brooklyn. The Rudin Family Gallery will be inaugurated with a solo show of work by Glenn Kaino titled When a Pot Finds its Purpose (6 November-15 December).

“It’s a privilege to open the space but also a great challenge and responsibility,” Kaino says. His exhibition, part of BAM’s annual Next Wave Festival that spotlights ambitious new work by young artists, consists of two large-scale works. Inside the gallery is Blue, a wall installation of simulated waves in miniature tanks. And Spill (2019) is a sculptural installation made with plaster reproductions of the historic Liberty Bell overflowing with regenerative soil, which will be visible from the street. In this work “a metaphor about growth and progress—repotting—is applied to an abstracted diorama that includes historical references and newly rethought biological processes,” Kaino says. “Presented in a space without a history, it is an argument for an imaginary proposition about a regenerative future.”

The show was organised by Larry Ossei-Mensah, a native New Yorker who was tapped last year to become the senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. As the Rudin Family Gallery first guest curator, Ossei-Mensah said he had to ask himself “what the vision and personality of this space are going to be” rather than “treating it as just a building in which to show art”.

When asked about the unique challenges inherent to planning a show for a space that had yet to be fully built, the curator noted that he had to largely rely on renderings and did not see the physical space until a few weeks before installation. “The key was trust on the part of Glenn, myself and our team,” Ossei-Mensah says of the challenge. “We trust that what we worked to put together, the conversation that we’re offering to the community and the public, is strong enough that it will land and be communicated clearly.”

The gallery is free to visit and is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 12pm to 6pm. It will also be open one hour before every performance at BAM’s Harvey Theater next door.