For over five years now, Jason Andrew has been running the non-profit arts organization Norte Maar in and out of his living room at 83 Wyckoff Avenue. "When I found the apartment," he tells me over the phone, "I saw the front room and thought: 'This is my gallery.'" Andrew has been producing four exhibitions mostly by Bushwick artists every year in his living room, though this is just one facet of Norte Maar. The organization "doesn't have one specific place," Andrew explains, "it's based on collaboration between literary, visual and performing arts, and it happens wherever the collaborations are." So while the visual component hangs in Bushwick, as does an after school art program for local kids that Andrew operates in conjunction with community group Bushwick Impact, he's organized performances around the world, and helps to run an upstate art camp for adults every summer with Austin Thomas (founder of the now-legendary scene-sparking DIY gallery Pocket Utopia, about which more later). Big as it is, though, Andrew's living room has certain limitations. "I wanted to show these very large-scale paintings by Deborah Brown," he explains, "but in a space that would do them justice."
So Brown and Andrew signed a lease for a vacant retail space at 16 Wilson Avenue and opened Storefront, a commercial gallery devoted to promoting work by emerging Bushwick artists whose third exhibition (hanging through May 16) features Brown's eerily, unexpectedly beautiful oil paintings of the neighborhood's feral landscapes under spectacular skies. Only five months after opening, Norte Maar's for-profit offspring is already a success. "It's weird," Andrew says, laughing, "for some reason people who weren't willing to buy art that's hanging over my bed will come into the gallery, look around and buy works." Still, the gallery isn't just a showroom; Storefront's Third Thursday reading series features a new local writer every month; and during the typically slow summer months Andrew will foreground the work of emerging curators in a fast-paced series of themed, three-week group exhibitions beginning on Bushwick Open Studios weekend (June 4-6) and continuing through September.