Coming from the Bronx and living a regular public school kid’s life, I didn’t realize the opportunities around me. I had witnessed my brother for years get cool things off Craigslist. I mean, he even bought a car. I was hungry to enter the art world. I wanted to dip my feet into anything I could. So I checked the creative gigs section on Craigslist because, well, why not, right? That’s where I found a post for a Gallery Internship in Bushwick. I answered and got a reply for a date the following week. Little did I know, that gallery would be the pillar holding the summer of 2013 high above the rest.
Getting off the J train heading down Broadway, I found The Living Gallery. Nyssa Frank met me at the door and she was immediately the most interesting person I’d seen all day. Looking over the space made me feel comfortable and the walls were cleared between exhibitions. She had explained to me what she was expecting, and it was surprisingly an easygoing conversation between us. I had worn my nice shiny shoes and even tucked in my shirt expecting it to be more formal. It was the beginning something beautiful, the summer of 2013.
Over the next few weeks I showed up every Wednesday at six-ish for The Living Gallery’s Drink & Draw. I’d come and do anything that she needed. I’d spackle the walls because of the nail holes left behind by hanging artwork. Just general things until before the drink & drawers arrived. That’s when the art materials were brought out and the seating was arranged. Lastly the wine was poured into cups, then patrons strolled in. Most days went like this, and I was happy to work and greet people from the neighborhood.
One of the most memorable moments was when the youth program Brooklyn Acts performed the song they’d created and practiced. The atmosphere was light and fun while parents of the youth group brought in food for a barbecue in the backyard. We even had a young local rapper come and open the show. After that the show was in motion. Brooklyn Acts killed it with their original song “Our Changing Streets.” It hit me on a personal level to see those local teens perform because they were so close in age to me. I realized I was in the right place.
That’s just what’s so special about the work that Nyssa Frank does. She isn’t just a gallerist. No, she’s a facilitator for dreams coming true. If you want to show your artwork for the first time, go there. If you have always wanted to model then you can do that for the Drink & Draw. If you want to see a band play, watch a short film, or even take an art class, I’d always recommend The Living Gallery.This week, every post on Inside/Out is created by participants in the MoMA + MoMA PS1 Cross-Museum Collective, a behind-the-scenes program for teenage alumni of our In the Making studio-art classes. Over the course of the 16-week project, the participating teens work with educators, curators, security staff, conservators, and other Museum staff to gain hands-on experience across a number of fields. In addition, they create collaborative artwork with a range of contemporary artists. More info can be found HERE and HERE. Info on our 2014 free summer art courses for teens is available now.