Proteus Gowanus » commerce An interdisciplinary gallery and reading room Sat, 19 Sep 2015 22:40:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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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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In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee: a documentary Wed, 25 Feb 2015 21:00:58 +0000 Thursday, March 12, 7pm
$5 admission

In conjunction with the Trade Routes exhibition, this documentary film explores a troubling side of the international adoption trade involving a Korean child. Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for this Korean adoptee who came to the US in 1966. Told to keep her true identity a secret from her new American family, this eight-year-old girl quickly forgot she was ever anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? This documentary is the search to find the answers about this troubling aspect of the international adoption trade. It follows acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem as she returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America.

Trailer and more info:

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Opening Reception for Trade Routes Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:46:47 +0000 Saturday, February 28, 6-8pm

Please join us for wine and conversation at the opening reception for Trade Routes, the third exhibition of our COMMERCE year. Trade Routes focuses on the infrastructures and pathways of commerce, from the winds and tides that were the first determinants of inter-cultural trade to the technological breakthroughs that fuel global trade today. Sociologist-artist team David Schleifer and Tracy Gilman explore Navajo trading rug styles using weather-resistant electric cables. The works of Shari Mendelson and Venetia Dale address the impact of product innovation, specifically the invention of plastic, on the movement of objects and commodities from their countries of origin to their point of consumption.

shari mendelson femaledogvesselFemale Dog Vessel by Shari Mendelson

The slow but massive efficacy of international shipping is presented in Charlotte Lagarde’s video and collage. Paul Lloyd Sargent and Tony Stanzione show us the river-borne perspective of industrial flotsam. And in her two-month residency at Proteus throughout the Trade Routes exhibition, mobile vending activist Lauren Cannon will present her Institute for Mobile Vending, including weekly onsite collaborative design workshops and presentations by activists and designers on the vending industry.

The exhibition will also include depression-era WPA images of American workers on plates by Claire Leighton, an atlas of the trans-atlantic slave trade andCameron Becarrio‘s streaming video of global weather conditions forecast by supercomputers and updated every three hours. These various works, along with accompanying public programming including lectures and film screenings, will highlight not only the movement and mapping of trade routes, but also the resulting changes in styles, uses and meanings of commodities and their materials as they criss-cross the globe.

Trade Routes was curated by Tammy Pittman and Susie Silbert.


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Labor of Love: True Stories by Real People Wed, 14 Jan 2015 02:36:45 +0000 Thursday, February 12, 7pm
$5 admission
We each have experience with the Labors of Love. So you will relate as some of New York City’s finest storytellers tell stories of how Love with a capital L has been Work with a capital W. They will explore the relationship we have with relationships. They will ask what we are willing to do and why we are willing to do it for love. Are we seeking wholeness through another? Are we simply following a narrative we’ve been told before? Do we have desires that are too nuanced to put into words? The Labor of Love storytellers will ask all these questions through a series of true personal stories. The Storytellers are Caitlin Brodnick, Kate Greathead, Nisse Greenberg, Eli Reiter and Aaron Wolfe.

Kate Greathead is a storyteller and writer who is confused about her relationship to talking about herself. She is a four time Moth Slam Champion whose work has been featured on the Moth radiohour and the New York Times.

Aaron Wolfe is a storyteller and filmmaker who likes international sports and marxism. His short film Record/Play has won all kinds of awards and was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival as well as a Vimeo Staff Pick. He’s also a Moth GrandSlam Champion and he runs a show called First Time Long Time about stories in sports.

Eli Reiter is a writer, journalist, storyteller, and aspiring listener. He is a multiple Moth Slam Champion who produces the show Long Story Long. He tweets a lot @411eli and his writing can be found at
Caitlin Brodnick is a comedian and storyteller who is just trying to finish this book. She is the creator of the docu-series Screw You Cancer and has had her storytelling featured on The Moth Podcast and her writing featured in Glamour. She is also the producer of Shut Up! – an all female storytelling show.
Nisse Greenberg, organizer of this evening, is attempting to be more vulnerable. He is the creator of Bad Feelings, Drawn Out Storytelling, and VHS Presents. The Future of Storytelling said his “commitment to the storytelling craft is infectious” which makes him sound like a virus on the right side of the law!


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