Proteus Gowanus » water An interdisciplinary gallery and reading room Sat, 19 Sep 2015 22:40:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Whole Gritty City Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:06:50 +0000 Thursday, July 10, 7pm

As the finale to our yearlong exploration of Water, Proteus Gowanus celebrates New Orleans, a water-challenged city with a spirit and culture built to survive. Join us Thursday evening for a final viewing of our exhibition, Water Works, featuring New Orleans artists, and for a screening of The Whole Gritty City, a 90-minute documentary that plunges viewers into the world of three New Orleans school marching bands. The film’s producer, director and editor, Richard Barber, will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions at the end.

The film follows kids growing up in America’s most musical city, and one of its most dangerous, as their band directors get them ready to perform in the Mardi Gras parades, and teach them to succeed and to survive.

Navigating the urban minefield through moments of setback, loss, discovery, and triumph, these children and their adult leaders reveal the power and resilience of a culture.


The film features three marching bands in the years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city: the O. Perry Walker and L.E. Rabouin high school bands., and The Roots of Music, a new band for middle school-age children. These young beginners in Roots are put through their paces by the program’s founder Derrick Tabb, drummer for the Grammy Award-winning Rebirth Brass Band.

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Waterlines: a Performance on the Gowanus Sun, 08 Jun 2014 16:16:52 +0000 Saturday, June 28, 4:30pm
Location: Union Street Bridge, Gowanus Canal

Waterlines, by Daniel Rothbart, is a choreography for floating sculptures and two canoes in the Gowanus Canal between the Union and Carroll Street Bridges.  A floating constellation of sculptures in the water will be shifted and reoriented by Daniel Rothbart and Jessica Harris in dialogue with the currents and the ever-changing environmental situations of the historic waterway.

After the performance, you are cordially invited for a glass of wine and to view the final exhibition of the Water year at Proteus Gowanus, down the alley off Nevins Street. The exhibition, Water Works, features work by New Orleans artists.

Rothbart’s glass and aluminum sculptures are informed by growth forms in nature but realized in the vernacular of industry and modern architecture.  This tension emulates the complex relationship between Gowanus Creek and New York City that first resulted in a canal for commerce, later a dangerously polluted waterway and currently a Superfund cleanup site.


During the test float of a sculpture in the canal, a bird came to perch on the work as though it were a real tree.  Similar confusion has proved fatal to a whale and dolphins that have recently made their way from the East River into Gowanus Bay and the canal, succumbing to organic pollutants. Waterlines explores dichotomies of appearance and reality, nature and civilization, creation and destruction, contamination and rehabilitation.

Tableaux flottants viewed from the Union Street Bridge circumscribe the water’s surface but the sculptures were also conceived for perception below the waterline. The performance will be videotaped underwater, from the banks of the canal and the bridge.  A video work edited from this footage will be presented at Rothbart’s forthcoming solo exhibition at the Galerie Depardieu in October 2014 curated by Wolfgang Becker.

Daniel Rothbart is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn. His work explores the relationship between nature, urban postmodern identity and metaphysics. Rothbart holds a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design, an M.F.A. from Columbia University and was awarded a Fulbright grant to Italy. Daniel Rothbart represented the United States at OPEN10 with a floating sculptural installation in Venice. Projects include exhibitions at the Andrea Meislin Gallery, Exit Art and the LAB Gallery in New York and the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill. European exhibitions include the Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna in Rome, the Galerie Depardieu in Nice, the Galleria Il Ponte in Florence and the Cultural Centre of Belgrade in Serbia. Rothbart has participated in numerous international artists’ residencies and was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts grant.

For more information, visit Daniel’s website at

Jessica Harris is a dancer, educator, choreographer and performance artist based in Brooklyn, New York.  As a dancer, she has worked with Shen Wei Dance Arts for more than ten years. Performances with the company include the Lincoln Center Festival, Kennedy Center, Sydney Opera House, Walt Disney Concert Hall, La Fenice in Venice, Het Musiztheater in Amsterdam, Hong Kong Grand Theater, Sadler’s Wells and more.  Ms. Harris joined Shen Wei in choreographing material for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and has taught company master classes throughout the US and Europe, including in Hungary, Spain, and Italy.  As an educator, Ms. Harris has taught numerous classes and workshops in technique, choreography, and somatics, and served a one-year teaching appointment in the Dance Department at Pomona College, where she introduced a course in Site Specific Performance.   In her choreographic work, Ms. Harris experiments with the use of physical limitations and specificity of task as a method for movement generation.  Her work includes concert dance, music videos and musicals.  As a performance artist, Ms. Harris is interested in how to use performance to communicate information.   She has created performances pieces for conferences, events, commercial spaces and for educating children.  Ms. Harris is pursuing a Master’s degree in performance and marketing at the Gallatin School of individualized Study at New York University.


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Océans, the documentary Tue, 20 May 2014 20:01:44 +0000 Thursday, May 29, 7pm

This screening of the gorgeous, award-winning film, Océans, is a follow-up to the fascinating March talk at Proteus with Jesse Ausubel, creator of the Census of Marine Life. Océans is a 2009 French nature documentary directed, produced, co-written, and narrated by Jacques Perrin, with Jacques Cluzaud as co-director. Filmed throughout the globe, the documentary is an ecological drama, part thriller, part meditation on the vanishing wonders of the sub-aquatic world. oceans

Océans features spectacular never-before-seen imagery captured by the latest underwater technologies, offering an unprecedented look beneath the sea. We are screening the French version. What little narration there is will be translated for us by our friend, Eymund Diegel.

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Water Works Opening Reception Tue, 20 May 2014 19:17:00 +0000 Saturday, May 31, 6-8pm

Water Works image

Join us for wine and New Orleans music at the opening reception of Water Works, a group exhibition featuring the work of 16 visual artists from New Orleans along with music critic and occasional DJ John Swenson spinning the history of New Orleans music from Gottschalk to Galactic!

The title of this exhibition is derived from the board game, Monopoly. It invokes the infrastructures and agencies that deliver water to our sinks and tubs while also serving as a metaphor for tears. But Water Works is not another hard-luck Katrina show. We asked this group of New Orleans artists to  consider water in all its complexity and universality. Saucedo further refined the lens to the two topics suggested by the title of the show and the board game it references: namely, infrastructure and emotion.

Curator and Artist: Christopher Saucedo

Artists: Kevin Baer, Gina Phillips, GAS, Laura Gipson, Jessica Goldfinch, Cheryl Hayes, Rachel Jones Deris, Matthew Kirscht, Holger Lang*, Malcolm McClay, Anastasia Pelias, Christopher Saucedo, Dan Tague, Ashley Robbins – Tague, Michel Varisco, Monica Zeringue

*all artists included in this exhibition are working in New Orleans except Holger Lang, from Vienna, Austria.

The evening’s soundtrack will be curated by a special guest DJ, John Swenson, editor at New Orleans premier music magazine OffBeat and for The Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide. Swenson’s latest book, New Atlantis, about New Orleans musicians restoring the city’s unique culture post-Katrina, will be on sale.



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Combined Overflow Roundtable Discussion Wed, 14 May 2014 20:34:12 +0000 Friday, May 23, 7-9pm
Free wine and refreshments

Join us for a roundtable discussion with several artists from our current Water exhibition, Combined Overflow. They will discuss creative collaborations on the Newtown Creek and Gowanus Canal and consider new ideas for how to engage with Superfund Sites, urban waterfronts and environmental pollution in Brooklyn and beyond.

Participants include George Trakas, designer of the Newtown Creek Nature Walk; artist Willis Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance and North Brooklyn Boat Club; engineer Jeff Laut of the Brooklyn Atlantis robot project; photographer Mitch Waxman; media artist Jan Mun; and artist/scientist Jenifer Wightman.

Panel moderators will be the Combined Overflow curators, Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger and Sarah Nelson Wright, creators of The Newtown Creek Armada. Join the discussion and view Combined Overflow before it closes on May 25!




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Create your own Square Foot Stormwater Garden Sun, 11 May 2014 21:08:22 +0000 Saturday, May 31 from 12 PM – 3 PM
$50 registration fee, $40 for GCC members

In conjunction with the exhibition Combined Overflow on view now at Proteus Gowanus, Greenlab Studio is hosting a build-it-yourself workshop at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy Salt Lot on how to construct a square foot stormwater garden module. Come out and learn how to build these gardens and return home with a module of your own!
square foot gardens

As featured in the April 2014 issue of Dwell Magazine, these stormwater garden modules can be installed on any outdoor vertical surface such as a fence, a brick wall, or even a fire escape. In addition to providing valuable green space in any urban environment, they help capture rainwater before it enters our frequently overburdened stormwater system.

$50 registration fee, $40 for GCC members. All tools and materials are provided.
Click here to register

The Salt Lot is at the Dept of Sanitation lot at the end of Second Avenue, at the corner of Fifth St, where it dead ends into the canal.




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A Water Reading Fri, 02 May 2014 19:21:48 +0000 Friday, May 9, 7-8pm

Many of the words we use to describe our experience as readers and writers come from our much earlier experience of water: flow, reflection, transparency, stream of consciousness. We sink into a book, or become immersed in a story. Poets have used rivers, the sea, rain, storms, as a fortune-teller uses a crystal ball: to read the obscure messages that come from both without and within. Novelists have used water imagery to structure narrative: time as a river, or the passage of lives as waves. Come join us as we continue our yearlong exploration of water and listen to the work of Emily Dickinson, J.G.Ballard, Tarjei Vesaas, Stevie Smith and Virginia Woolf, as they contemplate water in its many forms.

Reading organized by Wendy Walker. The readers are Cathy Fuerst, Janice Everett, Tom LaFarge, Henry Wessells and Wendy Walker.

 Nils Johan Olsson Blommér, The Water-Sprite and Ägir’s Daughters
Nils Johan Olsson Blommér, The Water-Sprite and Ägir’s Daughters
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Zeuf, Swell & Heart of the Sea: three films on women who surf Sun, 13 Apr 2014 21:43:25 +0000 Thursday, April 24, 7pm
$5 suggested donation

Join us for an evening with the documentary filmmaker Charlotte Lagarde for a screening of her award-winning trilogy about women surfers. Charlotte’s love of the sea led her to document these women’s lives. The films are Zeuf (4 min), Swell, (23 min) and Heart of the Sea (55 min). A discussion with the filmmaker will follow the screenings.

Zeuf (1994) is a four-minute portrait of Robin “Zeuf” Janizeufski, a 34 year old breast cancer survivor, a surfer and an ICU nurse. Zeuf challenges the ideas that one associates with breast cancer, representing a strong and beautiful image of life. Winner of the Cine Golden Eagle and the Director Award at the Black Maria Film Festival, Zeuf, Lagarde’s first student film at Stanford University, was on Sundance channel and shown in over 30 countries.

Swell (1996) is a portrait of inter-generational community of women surfers in Santa Cruz, CA. Winner of a Gold Apple Award and the Isabella Liddell Art Award, Swell became a cult movie in the women surfing community.

Winner of the PBS Independent Lens Audience Award, Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka’ehukai (2003) is a breathtaking portrait of surf legend Rell “Kapolioka’ehukai” Sunn, founding member of the Women’s Professional Surfing Association and beloved breast cancer activist. With exhilarating water scenes and captivating archival footage of surf culture, Heart of the Sea is an important look at Hawai’i’s integral part of America’s rich cultural heritage, a stirring portrait of a courageous legend.

For more information about the films, check Swell Cinema (

The Filmmaker
Born in France, Charlotte Lagarde has completed over a dozen documentary films since 1991, intimate portraits of people and places. Her love of the ocean led her to document magnificent women surfers in her award-winning short films Zeuf and Swell. Heart of the Sea, her feature-length documentary about the Hawaiian surfing legend, Rell Sunn, was broadcast in over 30 countries and won numerous awards including Best Documentary Award at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and the 2003 PBS Independent Lens Audience Award.

Her producing credits include Deann Borshay Liem’s In The Matter Of Cha Jung Hee (PBS/POV 2010) andGeographies of Kinship (in progress) and Carrie Lozano’s Academy award-winning Reporter Zero, which premiered at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival. Lagarde’s work has aired on PBS series POV and Independent lens, the Sundance Channel, HBO and Canal +, and received funding from ITVS, the NEA, the NEH and the Sundance Institute among others. 

After 25 years in California, Lagarde now lives in Brooklyn, where she is currently working on a follow-up film on her longtime friend Zeuf. This cinematic dialogue between a filmmaker and her early subject reveals a remarkable friendship at its most vulnerable and lucid as Zeuf approaches the premature end of her life. It is an intimate, inspiring portrait of a fiercely intelligent, vibrant, and beloved woman in close dialogue with the ocean, her body, her cancer, even her own death—which she describes as “a very gentle pull.”


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Body-Mind-Water Aquatherapy: A Gnarly Rip & Fly-Fishing Workshop Tue, 08 Apr 2014 23:17:49 +0000 Saturday, April 12, 3-6pm
$5 admission

ThirstLab Workshop #4 presents Body-Mind-Water Aquatherapies, exploring the ability of water  to act as a healing force. The Workshop will serve as a forum to exchange stories as well an opportunity to learn-by-doing a variety of physical skills related to the watersports of surfing and fly-fishing. Participants will gather at Proteus Gowanus at 3pm and then walk together to our friend and neighbor, the Gowanus Showroom, which has kindly donated its large and airy space to us for the remainder of the afternoon.

Hope Ginsburg & Sponge HQ’s felted water adventure gear and designer Barbara Compagnoni’s interactive digital “wii” surf meditation game will set the day’s playful tone. Next, Emmy Award winning filmmakers Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys will discuss their ongoing “Blue Marble” documentary film project on marine biologist Wallace J. Nicholson’s “Blue Mind” work encouraging scientists to study the emotional impact that water has on people of all ages. We’ll also hear from Chris Holub of “Surfer’s Healing”, a nonprofit organization that teaches children with special needs and their families how to catch a wave. And we’ll learn about Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military personnel and veterans by providing fly fishing experiences.

Be prepared to participate! Lena Roca will offer a sample “surf yoga” workshop in the space, leading us through poses and breathing techniques that relate to surfing moves that will help you rip,while PHWFF master fly-fishing anglers will teach us fly-casting motions and how to craft fly-fishing lures. What physical skills and personal tales can we share that will deepen our appreciation of local waters? By the end of the day, workshop participants will report back on the most interesting stories or insights that were “hooked” through this unlikely but lively exchange.


Lexy Lovell + Michael Uys are a husband and wife filmmaking team whose feature documentary, The Good Soldier, follows the journeys of five combat veterans from different generations of American wars as they sign up, go into battle, and eventually change their minds about what it means to be a good soldier. It has won multiple awards including the Emmy Award for Outstanding Long Form Historical Programming and the Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary. Their first feature documentary, Riding the Rails, the story of teenaged hobos during the Great Depression, also garnered 18 major awards, including Best Documentary from both the DGA and the LA Film Critics Association, Outstanding Documentary of the year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and more. In ThirstLab, Lexy and Michael will discuss their current in-process film project that aims to illuminate the “Blue Mind” neuroconservation research of marine biologist Wallace J. Nicholson, and the ocean’s dynamics within people’s psyches and everyday lives.

Tamar Franklin and Andy Roberts are, respectively, the Mid Atlantic Program Coordinator and Lead for New York City’s Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), a nonprofit organization that provides basic fly fishing, fly casting, and fly tying instruction. They also provide field trips designed to help wounded military personnel overcome obstacles associated with their military service-related disabilities. The benefits of these trips range from helping to restore fine motor skills to providing the simple benefit of spending unhurried time alongside rivers, lakes and oceans. While PHWFF teaches fly fishing techniques, perhaps the greatest benefit for many members’ is realizing that the attunement to nature required by this sport can improve the health of mind and body. In ThirstLab, Tamar, Robert and other PHWFF members will share their stories and offer fly tying and fly casting lessons to workshop participants.

Barbara Compagnoni is an East Coast surfer and Long Island based artist who worked over a decade for HBO before returning to graduate school to pursue an MA degree in Design & Technology at Parsons The New School for Design. Her current game design and installation work explores abnormalities in biological rhythms and their effects on mind, body and spirit. By approaching projects in a whimsical manner, her goal is to deepen the understanding of one’s own psyche. “Let Go Or Be Dragged,” featured in ThirstLab, is a digital environment and interactive video game that replicates Barbara’s experience of personal healing gained through surfing: your ability to catch a waves resides in your capacity to breathe calmly and carefully observe the movements of the water.

Chris Holub is a lifelong surfer who provides private instruction to new surfers about wave riding, surf etiquette, Ocean awareness and fun under the moniker Surf Notionless. She also volunteers for Surfers Healing, a foundation/ free summer camp for autistic children that has changed Chris’ life. For the past seven years, Chris and her husband have volunteered at the East Coast Surfers Healing in Long Beach, NY, riding side by side with some of the best surfers in the World to help change the lives of thousands of autistic children.

Lena Roca is a yoga instructor, massage therapist trained at the Swedish Institute of Massage Therapy, and owner/creator of Yoga on the Rocks in Rockaway Beach, NYC, offering classes in Vinyasa (flow) yoga instruction geared towards all levels, with an emphasis on fitness, rehabilitation and alignment. After Hurricane Sandy, she teamed up with Michelle LaDue of Moonflower Acupuncture to establish a wellness clinic offering free massage, acupuncture, and herbal medicine to everyone who needed it, especially for those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. During ThirstLab’s Workshop #4, Lena will be teaching yoga exercises that relate to surfing, and will share ideas about the therapeutic value of both forms of movement, situated in or alongside the ocean.



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Gowanus Drinks: A Workshop/Walking Tour of Thirsty Plants & People Tue, 01 Apr 2014 22:43:57 +0000 THIRSTLAB WORKSHOP #3: Gowanus Drinks: A Workshop/Walking Tour of Thirsty Plants and Thirsty People
Saturday, April 5th, 4-7pm

Gowanus is a literal backwater, a tidal swamp that has been channeled and paved over by political, economic, and environmental forces since the first European colonists arrived. Tracing a meandering path through the region’s history–from its early agricultural roots, to the infamous Whisky Wars and Prohibition Era, to Superfund and today’s hydroponic farms, craft liquor distilleries and DIY brewery shops–this workshop culminates in a two hour walking tour that will investigate the dark and bright sides of the Gowanus. We’ll begin by exploring how water quality relates to agricultural methods and industrial processes, and how these issues may help account for the emergence of small-scale urban farming and alcohol production methods. We will bring together scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and DIY enthusiasts to exchange ideas about how pollution, disease, and economic crisis–as well as new industries, culture, and social life– are fed by the Gowanus canal. Does the proliferation of DIY activities and small-scale local businesses respond to people’s real needs for agency in their daily lives? How have these ventures factored into real estate speculation and quality of life in the area? Explore these questions first-hand through a walking, talking & tasting tour led by artist Jeremy Olson that will include stops at Gotham Greens Hydroponic Farm (located on the top of the neighborhood’s new Whole Foods store), Brooklyn Homebrew, and Breuckelen Distilling Company, the first gin distiller to open in Brooklyn since Prohibition. Put on your walking shoes and join us as we open our minds and wet our whistles.

Workshop Leaders: Jeremy Olson (Artist/Current Collective Member), Aaron Cooper (Artist/Current Collective Member), with Bhawani Venkataraman (Interdisciplinary Scientist, Eugene Lang College The New School), Cleo Woelfle-Erskine (Hydrologist & Co-Founder of Greywater Guerrillas) and July Cole (Poet and Co-editor, Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground), Viraj Puri (Co-Founder & CEO, Gotham Greens),Alex Wenner (Brooklyn Homebrew), Brad Estabrooke (Founder, Breuckelen Distilling Company)


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