Proteus Gowanus An interdisciplinary gallery and reading room Sat, 19 Sep 2015 22:40:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Big Bargain Proteus Clean Out Sale Tue, 21 Jul 2015 21:34:39 +0000 Sunday, July 26, 12pm-5pm
Come see Proteus Gowanus stripped down to her bare shelves. We’re selling everything CHEAP. Buy a remnant to remember us by: Books, art, crafts, knick-knacks, postcards, accumulations of the years. Also: old paint, electronic equipment, lighting, tools, chairs, and god knows what. Come poke around. Bring lots of cash!


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Lift a Glass to Proteus Gowanus Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:41:33 +0000 Friday, July 10, 7-10pm

Join us for a farewell party and a joyful coming together of our creative community of friends and collaborators. Have a glass of wine, share a memory or two, buy something Protean to take home with you, and listen to music by Lila Ramani, Jesse Brotter and Brian Aronow.

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Slow Fashion from UNDERWEAR to HATS: Making Everything She Wears! Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:45:28 +0000 Saturday, June 27
4:30-6:30 pm
Admission is Free

Some people take do-it-yourself seriously by crafting their own birdhouses, knitting hats or even brewing beer. Brooklyn artist and womens’ wear designer Sarah Kate Beaumont has achieved an entirely different level of self-sufficiency in a significant aspect of her life. Imagine if every item of clothing you wore were unique in the world. For seven years, Beaumont has been designing and making her entire wardrobe, from underwear to hats.  In contrast to Fast Fashion, Beaumont makes her hyper-slow clothes stitch by stitch in her studio: Slow Clothes.  “What started as a way to economize became a lifestyle of self-reliance and self-expression,” says Beaumont.

Beaumont will present a retrospective of this project with examples from her personal wardrobe. She will discuss her process, inspiration and the zeitgeist of maker-ism.

Beaumont draws upon her inventive imagination and historical fashions and more to create an extraordinary range of attire including elegant silk hats, utilitarian accessories and one-of-a-kind garments. Her attire is performance art as well as a display of skilled craftsmanship.

Beaumont currently is producing a series of humorous and informative videos teaching consumers what to look for in sewn goods to determine the quality before they buy, guiding them to shop smarter. Three videos from this Conscientious Consumer series are free and available to view at:

How to Look at Hats:
How to Look at Belts:
How to Look at Bedding:

“Sarah Kate Beaumont…has made all of her own clothes—and beautifully. In her monastic dedication, she’s reminiscent of Joel Salatin …whom Pollan hails as a model of sustainability in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. …It took Beaumont decades to perfect her craft; her example can’t be knocked off.”  Julian Sancton, Bloomberg Businessweek, June 2012

Beaumont taught art in New York City High Schools for six years and offered sewing classes in her studio. Her project is featured in Elizabeth Cline’s book Overdressed: The High Cost of Cheap Fashion and profiled in such publications as The New York Times, Yes! Magazine and Ultimo Segundo (Brazil).


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Proteus Gowanus Closing After 10 Years Tue, 09 Jun 2015 18:40:21 +0000 unnamed

Dear Friends!

It is with a sense of celebration and sadness that we announce that Proteus Gowanus will close its doors on June 28th, 2015 after ten years of creative exploration on our beloved Gowanus Canal.

As our namesake and muse, Proteus the Greek sea god, would say, “It’s time for a change!”

According to the Proteus myth, if you hold tight to the god through all his changing forms he will return to his true shape and tell you what you want to know. We have held on tight for ten years of morphing projects, exhibitions, publications, workshops, events and conversations. And Proteus has shown us more things than we ever imagined.

From the beginning, Proteus Gowanus has been an inclusive place of creative collaboration. For us, and we hope for you too, it has been a joyful experience. You all have been integral to this process, coming in to engage in conversation, exchange ideas and get involved.

We have so many to thank for the range and depth of these experiences over the years:

  • The generous supporters who stepped forward when Sasha founded the gallery in 2005, and those who have joined us throughout our journey to create a unique, interdisciplinary outpost whose warmth and humanity have welcomed thousands.
  • The many artists, writers, scientists, anthropologists, historians and workers in other disciplines who have considered Proteus Gowanus their creative home, enriching our exhibitions and programs with their ideas and work.
  • And all of our community – friends and strangers alike –  whose wisdom and knowledge we have happily depended on to guide us forward.

There is a certain pressure that arises for small, independent projects to balance creative impulse with the inevitable pull towards institutional growth. We hope our decision, made with careful consideration, to freely let go at the height of our creative powers will inspire new small, cultural organizations to step forward.

Over the years, we are proud to have nurtured or spawned eleven arts organizations or projects under the Proteus umbrella, some of which we leave in our wake: Fixers Collective, Hall of Gowanus, Reanimation Library, Museum of Matches, Observatory, Morbid Anatomy Library (now museum), bkbx [Brooklyn box], the Writhing Society, Proteotypes, D’Amico Laboratory Collective, and Arts Gowanus.

Come visit us in the coming weeks for a last good look and conversation. Our current and final exhibition, Gowanus Marketplace, as well as our Projects-in-Residence, will be open through June 28th. We would love to see you!

And please collaborate with us one more time! We plan to document Proteus from its opening in 2005 to today. Share with us any thoughts, memories or images of your Protean experiences and of the ways our creative process stimulated yours.

Though we are closing our doors, Proteus may morph into new forms – perhaps in the cloud as Proteus Cumulus! We will keep you posted.

Lastly, we would like to invite you to join us for a closing party in mid-July (more details to come!)
With our deepest affection and respect,

Tammy and Sasha

proteus struggle

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The Gleaners and I, a documentary Mon, 11 May 2015 19:27:46 +0000 Thursday, May 14, 7pm
$5 donation

The Gleaners and I is a 2000 French documentary film by Agnès Varda, just recently became the first woman and only fourth director to be awarded an honorary Palme d’Or in Cannes. This film follows gleaners, those people who pick at recently reaped fields for the odd potato, leftover turnip. It has previously won awards around the world. In a 2014 Sight and Sound poll, film critics voted The Gleaners and I the eighth best documentary film of all time.

The film is part of a series at Proteus carrying our explorations of Commerce in new directions. Filmmaker and Proteus collaborator Charlotte Lagarde selected the Commerce films.

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Spice Trade Perfumes Workshop Sat, 11 Apr 2015 15:34:31 +0000 Saturday, May 16, 1 – 4pm
Workshop and Materials Fee: $125
To buy ticket, scroll down to Paypal button

As part of our Trade Routes exhibition, Proteus Gowanus is pleased to announce a new Zone A Workshop focusing on the Spice Trade of antiquity. Space is limited so register early. 

No one benefitted more from the Spice Route than the early perfumers. Prior to the opening of the spice trade, perfumers in Europe were using the materials available to them, mostly herbs and some locally growing flowers, to create the fragrances of the day. The explorations of Africa, India, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the West Indies garnered fragrant spices, resins and balsams that created an olfactory palette that would create an industry.

In this workshop we’ll explore the discoveries of the early explorers and learn about resinous frankincense, rich vanilla bean, piquant saffron and voluptuous sandalwood. You’ll gain a basic understanding of the sense of smell, the history of perfume and learn how to blend these precious oils into your own bespoke perfume. The process harkens back to a time several centuries past when these materials became available (long before synthetic scent molecules were invented in laboratories). Each participant will leave with two bottles of perfume.

No prior knowledge of perfume making is required. Students should bring a notebook to class, all other materials will be provided. Email email hidden; JavaScript is required for questions.

Please note there are no refunds for cancellations.

Julianne Zaleta is a professional herbalist, aromatherapist and perfumer. Sole proprietor of her own company, Herbal Alchemy Apothecary, for years she has handcrafted artisanal scents and potions from the purest elements of nature. Julianne has trained with Mandy Aftel, Michael Scholes and Jeanne Rose and is a certified aromatherapist as well as a meditation teacher. Her products are handmade in her studio atelier in Brooklyn. To read what she’s been up to, visit 

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Mobile Vending in the Underground Economy Thu, 26 Mar 2015 01:53:52 +0000 Friday, April 3, 7pm
$5 admission

The Institute for Mobile Research will host a panel discussion with three prolific proponents of game change in the the mobile industry.  Join us as panelists discuss their research and activism in mobile industries ranging from art to commerce to food.

Esther Robinson from ArtHome will discuss ArtBuild Mobile Spaces, a new program she’s spearheading to create affordable mobile artist studios in the vein of the Tiny House movement. Justin Levinson, Makeshift magazine’s Hacker-in-Chief, will speak on his research into mobile entrepreneurship in the New York City underground economy. He will also discuss Makeshift’s international coverage of innovative mobile commerce ventures. Sean Basinski, founder of Urban Justice League’s Street Vendor Project will talk about current legal initiatives being spearheaded by the group to combat the oppression of New York City’s immigrant street vendors. Basinski will provide insight into the daily challenges of all mobile food vendors in New York City.

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Art and Entrepreneurship in Mobile Vending: A Tale of Hair Salons and Trailer Parks on Wheels Thu, 26 Mar 2015 01:41:18 +0000 Friday, March 27, 7pm
$5 admission

The Institute of Mobile Research founder Lauren Cannon will moderate a discussion with two innovators in the mobile art and commerce realms. MIT Media Lab Fellow and artist Kim Holleman will discuss her “Trailer Park” project and other artistic initiatives in a mobile art space. Caroline Destefano, owner of the mobile hair salon Studio in Motion, will talk about the entrepreneurial and creative journey that led her to operate her hair salon on wheels. 

1. Holleman_Trailer Park Print

studioinmotion 1


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Trace: A Civil Rights Journey Tue, 03 Mar 2015 23:18:35 +0000 Friday, March 20, 7pm
$5 admission

A hybrid event combining photography, video, voice, and word, Trace explores the legacy of writer and activist Tom Dent while retracing parts of his 1990 journey visiting lesser-known sites of the Civil Rights struggle, as documented in his book, Southern Journey: Return to the Civil Rights Movement. Dent worked in connection to a larger cultural and economic diaspora, examining the contemporary effects of colonialism while working with and helping to organize black writers and artists. Presented as part of the Trade Routes exhibition at Proteus GowanusTrace follows the networks connecting post-colonial Africa and the Caribbean with New York, the Southern Civil Rights movement and beyond.

trace 2

Writer Eben Wood and photographer Lady Perez spent early January in Dent’s personal archive, housed at Tulane’s Amistad Research Center in New Orleans. From there, they traveled north through rural Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, shadowing Dent’s own southern journey in reverse, ending where Dent began, in Greensboro, North Carolina, site of the first lunch-counter sit-in by A & T students in February 1960. Trace represents a simultaneous horizontal and vertical journey, moving among past and present, here and there across the winter landscapes of New Orleans and the Delta, posing the question of where a writer’s work is located. A kind of neo-noir, half historical inquiry and half detective story, Trace re-imagines the diasporic networks Dent traced in his own writing, connecting local and regional, American and global identities.

Wood and Perez will be joined in discussion by Dr. Rashidah Ismaili, friend and colleague of Dent in the Umbra Workshop. Author of many books, Ismaili has most recently published Autobiography of the Lower East Side (Northampton House, 2014), a novel in stories of the pre-gentrified LES, a time when that neighborhood was “roiling with art and politics and music.” 

Tom Dent
Born in New Orleans in 1932, Dent moved to New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1960s, where he played a founding role in two important groups that focused on the intersection of African-American culture and Black diaspora politics: On Guard for Cultural Freedom and the Umbra Workshop. On Guard became best known for organizing the 1961 protests at the UN following Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba’s murder; Umbra is widely seen as an essential precursor to the Black Arts Movement. Leaving New York for the South as a press officer for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, Dent began working with the activist Free Southern Theater in the Mississippi Delta and rural Louisiana. At the theater’s headquarters in the crumbling Desire Projects of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, he founded the Umbra-inspired writing workshops that became the Congo Square Writers Union. His last book, Southern Journey: Return to the Civil Rights Movement, records Dent’s 1990 road trip to lesser-known sites of the Civil Rights struggle. Dent died of a heart attack in New Orleans in 1998.

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The Past Is the Future: Economic Alternatives from Contemporary Maya Wed, 25 Feb 2015 21:12:00 +0000 Sunday, March 15, 6pm
$5 admission

What is wealth? Can there be a definition that moves beyond the superficiality of cash accumulation? Who is embracing a new definition? Using data collected form ethnographic work conducted in Maya villages in the lowland rainforests of Belize, social anthropologist Kristina Baines presents thoughts on the movement between a traditional reciprocal labor system to a cash economy, and back again. Outlining the details of the Maya reciprocal labor system, which uses a day’s work as currency to trade for a day’s work of another community member, Kristina discusses what it means in terms of health, heritage and future to use a cash-less system.  As part of Proteus’ ongoing exploration of COMMERCE, Kristina questions our understandings of poverty and wealth, the linear perception of “development” and how we put alternatives to capital into “communal” or “fringe” boxes. What lessons can these traditional systems teach us about commerce in our communities when we recast ideas about heritage in the present?

Kristina Baines is a social anthropologist on a mission to uncover ecological connections to health and happiness. She works with Maya communities in the Toledo District, Belize and in the US, and has collaboratively developed environmental and cultural heritage educational materials based on local research ( She hopes, through the use of technology, to promote the wide dissemination of anthropological ideas and their applications ( She is currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Faculty for Academic Technology with the City University of New York at Guttman Community College in New York City.

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