The Invisible Dog Not Inaudible: Boerum Hill Neighbors Say Bergen Street Gallery Too Noisy

11/08/2011 8:57 AM |

The mid-century jazz-accompanied photo projection at The Invisible Dog that sent neighbors over the edge.
  • The mid-century jazz-accompanied photo projection at The Invisible Dog that sent neighbors over the edge.

Isn’t it nice living in a safe, beautiful neighborhood full of bars, restaurants and cafes that still has a vibrant art scene? Apparently not, or so one concludes from the consortium of Boerum Hill residents coming down on local gallery, performance venue, studio building and event space The Invisible Dog for bringing a little too much life to the neighborhood.

Anger towards the two-year-old gallery has been brewing for a while, the Carroll Gardens Patch suggests, pinpointing an event on September 16 and 17 that not only launched the art space’s third season but doubled as a closing event for the Brooklyn Book Festival.

The event, Chaos Manor, was created by Christopher McElroen and Sam Stephenson and based on the latter’s book about W. Eugene Smith‘s so-called “jazz loft” project on Fifth Avenue between 1957-1965. The event involved projections of hundreds of Smith’s photographs in every window of the former factory facing onto Bergen Street, and a live jazz band playing as it rode up and down in the building’s freight elevator. Bergen Street and the sidewalk facing the art center were crowded with spectators, including many local parents with their young children.

But black and white photography and jazz music apparently still offend some people. As the Patch puts it:

Residents, including some parents of young children, compared the event to a rave with loud music emanating from the building into the wee hours of night and people dancing and yelling on Bergen Street. [...] Though neighbors had complained amongst themselves before, Chaos Manor banded them together in their calls for a community meeting with [building owner Frank] DeFalco and the gallery directors.

Invisible Dog director Lucien Zayan responded: “We strive not to bother our neighbors and to be a good neighbor. We’re very involved with our neighborhood and support local artists here.” He said that only when the space is rented out for wedding receptions is loud music played, and that none accompanies the opening receptions that take place once or twice per month for new exhibitions at the gallery.

Leave it to an elected official to provide the voice of reason:

Councilmember Stephen Levin, who represents Boerum Hill, said the noise problems on Bergen Street aren’t unique to the neighborhood—rather, they’re found throughout the city, especially in flourishing artist communities.

(Photo: Simon Courchel/The Invisible Dog)