Join us in Celebrating GO

It’s hard to believe we are here after dozens of artist and voter meetups throughout the summer; an exhilarating open studio weekend that resulted in 147,000 studio visits; nominations and curator studio visits, and a whirlwind installation schedule…our exhibition opens Saturday night!

GO Featured Artist, Yeon Ji Yoo, installs her work in the exhibition.

You may have noticed that we’re opening GO on a Target First Saturday. Given the democratic nature of the project, we thought this would be a fitting way to get the show off to the right start.  For this month’s programming, our education team worked with GO’s Neighborhood Coordinators to pull together an evening full of events showcasing all the great things going on in Brooklyn—from Coney Island to Bushwick!  It’s going to be an exciting night with performances from Underground System Afrobeat, Maya Azucena, AVAN LAVA, L.O.U.D. (League of Unreal Dancing), and Parachute: The Coney Island Performance Festival.  Our GO Featured Artists—Adrian Coleman, Oliver Jeffers, Naomi Safran-Hon, Gabrielle Watson, and Yeon Ji Yoo—will be giving pop-up talks next to their works starting at 8pm (get in line early for free tickets, which will be distributed from the visitor center at 7pm). There’s more, too, so check out the full schedule.  Best of all, Target First Saturday is free!

During the evening, we’ll be hosting a special event for Members who’ve taken part in GO. You’ll find us saying hello to our awesome voters and making sure they get their GO swag.  Also, our friends from NYCHA will be joining us as our educators lead tours through the installation for housing residents.

Sharon and I have been fortunate enough to meet many of you throughout this process and to read and learn from your valuable feedback; we are very proud of what we’ve accomplished together and we hope that we’ll see you again on Saturday night to celebrate GO Brooklyn.

Making Choices to Create an Exhibition

Once we had our group of the ten most nominated artists, Eugenie and I set out on our part of the collaboration. We visited the artists independently without preconceived ideas about the work we would see or the show it would result in. We wanted the art we would encounter in the in the studios to determine the shape of the final exhibition.

In the studio with Naomi Safran-Hon.

The nominations from the community offered a remarkably broad range of artists and practices. We were struck by the different art worlds represented by the nominated artists. Although painting prevailed, we saw work representing a range of media styles, and subjects. We also appreciated that the artists ranged from the self-taught to the academically trained, and that some are full-time artists while others create their art alongside other careers.

Our challenge was to take this array of options and to think about the show as an entity, including its cohesiveness and scale. We wanted to select a group of artists who would represent the range of those nominated, and the artistic spectrum of those working in Brooklyn. Ultimately we strove to present a strong cohesive exhibition that reflected the artistic choices that reflected the democratic process of GO.

As we deliberated and strategized, we recognized that difficult choices needed to be made. We decided to chose a group of artists that represented the breadth of practices we had seen in the studios and a selection of several works by each artist to convey a sense of depth. Given the size of the mezzanine gallery we had at our disposal, this meant that the group of 10 nominees had to be pared down to fewer finalists.

Eugenie and I taking a look at the work of Naomi Safran-Hon during the installation of GO in the Brooklyn Museum mezzanine gallery.

As with all exhibitions initially everything seems possible until the moment for difficult decisions arrives. We hope that everyone who has engaged in this project will come to see the final exhibition. As we install the show this week, we will begin to see the relationship between the individual works by each artist as well as the conversation between the different artistic voices in the gallery. The distinctive space of the mezzanine gallery presents unique opportunities for the installation and exhibition design, including the placement of informational texts and the inclusion of a community component to reflect the open studio weekend and the tremendous activity that led us to this installation.

Creating a Framework to Collaborate with the Public

You have been following us from the 1708 studios to 9,457 nominations to 10 nominees to the 5 featured artists. Let’s take a look at how we got here.

Over the past year and a half, we discussed many ways to approach the exhibition, including whether or not the exhibition was necessary. In the process, we considered various models. For instance, we have already mentioned the inspiration provided by ArtPrize and our interest in modifying their framework to see work within the context of the studio and to require voters to nominate fewer artists. We also looked at the Walker Art Center’s 50/50: Audience and Experts Curate the Paper Collection, an exhibition that invited the public to vote on a selection of images on a kiosk at the museum and online, while their chief curator chose works by artists represented in depth in the museum collection. The resulting selections were hung in two sections, sparking “a range of questions about the dynamics between ‘audience’ and ‘expert,’ or between curatorial practice and so-called ‘mass taste.’” By contrast, the Hammer’s new Mohn Prize awardee was chosen by public vote from the museum’s Made in L.A. biennial exhibition. The experts, a jury of curators, winnowed the pool from the 60 exhibiting artists to 5 before inviting the public to vote. This model shifts the weight of decision making toward the experts. We also considered our own past projects, particularly Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition. While Click!, a great success, has served as a model for many subsequent projects elsewhere, it focused on using the internet as a tool and the photographs, though Brooklyn-themed, were judged online and in isolation.  During GO, we wanted to shift the focus more toward seeing a body of work in the studio with the artist present while creating an awareness of the art-making taking place in various communities throughout Brooklyn.

Installation of GO started on Monday in our Mezzanine gallery on the second floor of the Museum.

Since the main objective of GO was to connect the community with the vast number of artists working in their neighborhoods, the process included meeting and talking to artists face-to-face as well as scores of opportunities to encounter art in the flesh, so to speak. We invited the public into artists’ studios and asked it to nominate artists, creating the shortlist of artists for me and Eugenie Tsai to visit and select for the show, creating a collaboration between members of the community and the museum curators.

As always, practical issues arise. With exhibitions, the issue is always one of available space during the preferred period of time. We wanted the exhibition to follow the open studio weekend as quickly as possible and estimated that the entire process would take about three months, putting the opening in early December. We also felt strongly that unveiling the show on a First Saturday would be in keeping with the community-spirited character of the show. We felt now was the right time with Brooklyn experiencing such a great renaissance and with such widespread enthusiasm for the incredible creativity in the borough.

More to come this week!

Our GO Featured Artists

Since our announcement of our top ten nominated artists in late September, Eugenie Tsai (John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art) and I have visited their studios in Brooklyn. We decided to each individually meet with the artists, and then discuss our responses. As we both anticipated, we had some tough decisions to make, and it took us numerous meetings to sort it out. We had many strong artists from which to chose, but we needed to think about the overall show, its cohesiveness, and its scale. So, without further ado, the GO exhibition will feature:

  • Adrian Coleman, Fort Greene, painting
  • Oliver Jeffers, Boerum Hill, painting, illustration, and drawing
  • Naomi Safran-Hon, Prospect Heights, painting
  • Gabrielle Watson, Crown Heights, painting
  • Yeon Ji Yoo, Red Hook, mixed media sculpture

We will be discussing our choices, challenges with the show, and the installation process more in the next couple of weeks. For now, we have been focused on compiling the checklist and working with our designer, registrar, and editorial staff to plan the exhibition, gather the works, and prepare the written materials to accompany the show.

We hope you’ll continue to join us as we move towards the exhibition, which opens December 1 as a celebration of not only these artists, but all the artists and participants that made GO such a great success.

Does engagement require competition?

Now that we’ve published a lot of our findings about the data we saw over the open studio weekend, we are releasing all of the feedback we received when we asked participants to “Share Your Story.” All of the feedback is now available in the Shared Stories area of the GO website; we’ve tagged stories consistently, so you can easily discover what themes emerged. You can also search by participant type (artist, voter, volunteer) and neighborhood, so it’s possible to see the feedback coming from participants in one area and compare it to experiences in another.

As we reviewed the feedback, Sharon and I were struck by how much participants talked about “discovery”—one of the largest tags in the cloud. This feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and inspiring.  If you take a look, you’ll find participants discovering so much about their communities and neighborhoods and expressing their gratitude for the project.

Voters canvassed their neighborhoods finding familiar faces in places that were not accessible prior to GO; artists reported a greater awareness of others working near them, often in the same building or just down the street. Many participants felt GO facilitated a greater understanding and a coming together that wasn’t present before the project.

In our previous posts, we discussed much of the feedback we’ve seen. The data suggests that while hot spots existed, the traffic during the open studio weekend didn’t necessarily align with people’s assumptions. We discussed the weekend’s hours and participants desire for a multiple weekend event. Plus, we received plenty of feedback about technical problems, our app, our website, and even our printed maps; we’ve talked about this quite a bit.  Despite all these hurdles, you’ll find that almost every story says something along the lines of “We must do this again.”  

The common thread you’ll see running through all of the feedback is that this project made a difference to people, grew communities, and fostered connections that participants had not anticipated—people were deeply engaged through GO. Yet, as much as we heard rave reviews about the discoveries people made over the weekend, we also heard people struggling around the notion of this project as a “competition.” This incredibly rich and interesting feedback about the “competition” combined with participants’ overwhelmingly positive experience over the weekend has led us to wonder, if GO had been an open studio event without an exhibition, would your level of investment—or that of others—have been the same?

Learning Lessons Going Mobile

This is the final post in a three-part series about the use of mobile technology during the GO.

During the open studio weekend we wanted to provide as many mobile options as possible, but simplification could have helped us a great deal. We spread ourselves too thin in a quest for accessibility.

Despite the comment below and similar sentiments shared via other forms of feedback, Sharon and I still believe the high bar is necessary, and we wouldn’t change the requirement of registration and seeing many studios in order to nominate; we also believe that removing the nomination process from the weekend activity allows for needed reflection. However, within this set of requirements, we can and should simplify the means to get there.

As I look at these posts about texting and iPhone use, there are many lessons to be learned. If I had to do this year all over again, we would ditch texting in favor of telling people to write down codes, and we would have eliminated mobile web in favor of more staff time allocated to the iPhone app. Though we ran into unforeseen problems, I think having more time could have only benefited us and the additional time would have meant having more hands on deck when we started to see issues crop up because we would have been supporting fewer options.

As a powerful visualization, take a look at a detail of door signs which were on every artist’s door; this is the area of the sign that tells people how to check in to a studio and I’ve added arrows for emphasis:

We worked countless hours on this signage to try and make all the options as clear as possible, but you can see, there’s just too many choices and this results in too much information that’s not as clear as it could have been. It would have been a lot simpler if we just offered two methods—use our app or write it down. Not only would this have helped focus our tech efforts, it would have helped us better communicate about the choices available and we wouldn’t have been spread too thin in trying to support too many options.

Sometimes, we need to remember the wisdom of Mies: Less is More.

Growing Pains with an iPhone App

This is the second in a series of three posts about the use of mobile technology during the GO open studio weekend. The first looked at basic trends and SMS texting; this post will delve into the iPhone app, and the last will consider general lessons learned.

Few people know that we almost pulled the iPhone app from the store right before open studio weekend. Late Friday afternoon, the app was rendered totally unusable as it crashed at every tap and we wondered if it would be a better user experience to pull the app in favor of using other less crash-prone methods to check in.

As it turns out, for as much testing as we did, the one thing we couldn’t replicate easily was the load on our servers going into the open studio weekend and the app wasn’t handling spikes in server traffic very well. After a very late night we managed to stabilize the situation prior to the open studio weekend, but not before we frustrated a lot of participants.

I wish that was the extent of the problems we faced, but there was more. At first load, the app would check to make sure its list of studios was up-to-date. In the week leading up to the open studio weekend we had about a hundred artists cancel their participation, so the app had a lot of work to do to update. You can imagine what’s next…yup…crash. Once the app crashed on the initial startup, it wouldn’t crash again, but this was on the heels of the Friday night issue and there was plenty of frustration with no easy way to tell users to hang in there.

We went into the weekend knowing there were problems, but that most had been resolved or would be resolved in good time. We had no idea if participants would stick with us or ditch the app in favor of the other platforms we offered, so we held our breath and waited to fight more fires, but I remember seeing this tweet at some point over the weekend and feeling some sense of relief that someone out there was having a good experience.

There were some additional positive experiences around the app that came as part of the “share your story” feedback, but it felt as if these were the exception to the rule. So, I was floored to see this big, blue sea of check-in data in the chart belowdespite all the trouble, this app was used quite a bit. Given this popularity, we are not sure if the app worked mostly as intended or if people used it with continued trouble. Were the people having trouble just louder about it or was their experience indicative of most users?

That said, one more glitch cropped up during the weekend. After a while, the app stopped displaying users’ most recent check-ins. Even though the check-in would register on our side, the app wouldn’t tell the user. Some folks told us they went home to find all their check-ins and figured out this was a display bug, but we know we probably lost others in what I’d deem a user experience problem of the highest order.

In terms of functionality, we heard mostly good feedback, but not all, about features we provided. Participants reported that the mapping feature was solid and being able to follow an itinerary a real win, but the data we saw around the app’s nomination functionality found this feature to be of little use; most people turned to web when casting nominations (web 84%, mobile-web 10%, mobile 5.1%). The nomination functionality was a late day addition because I was absolutely (and incorrectly!) certain that users who started with one platform would expect every step of the process to be included. As it turned out, most users only used mobile when it would be most efficient (open studio weekend), and they turned to web once the need to be mobile had elapsed. Note to self: avoid the feature creep—it’s always better to start with a set of features and then wait and see what people ask for before attempting to develop for every situation.

Tomorrow we’ll talk through all the lessons learned, but in the meantime we are curious about your own experiences with the app. Did your own experience match up with the trends we were seeing with the data and the feedback?

Mobile Use and Texting Pains

This is the first in a three-part series about the use of mobile technology during the GO open studio weekend. Today, we’re going to look at basic trends and talk in depth about the use of texting; later this week we’ll look specifically at the iPhone app and lessons learned.

When we first looked at platform use during the open studio weekend, we were a little surprised at the data; when voters checked in to studios, they used the website almost half the time.

As we started to look at the data over time, we started to understand the trends a bit more. You can see from the chart below, the iphone app dominated during the open studio hours and web traffic started to increase substantially at the end of each weekend day and on Monday, during the check-in grace period. You’ll notice at the exact times we saw a drop off in traffic to studios (6pm), there was a rise in web traffic indicating people headed home to input the artist codes they had collected throughout the day.  

You’ll also notice a big dip in traffic on Sunday around 7-8pm; that’s right around the time the website crashed, so it’s a good thing we had established the following Monday a grace period allowing those writing down codes and anyone who experienced tech difficulties enough time to check-in—as you can see, people really needed it.

When we look at mobile web, the numbers there are pretty much as we’d expect. iPhone users account for 81% of the mobile traffic on our website (true for both and, so when it became apparent we only had resources to develop one app, the iPhone had to be the platform of choice given what we knew about our audience’s device carrying habits. While we didn’t have the resources to provide Droid users with their own platform-specific app, we were able to create a slimmed down mobile website which could be used for checking in to studios and following an itinerary; a 6% usage rate doesn’t seem too out of line with our audience’s overall mobile usage.

Texting usage was another matter entirely. We were stunned at the low use; in our minds, texting was the most accessible check-in method. As it turns out, the statistics seem to indicate the average participant found writing down numbers and entering them on the website (43.7%) way more accessible than texting (9.2%).

For as simple as we thought texting would be, there were many problems with it. Participants reported not understanding how to text to a alpha shortcode and this was especially true for users who had QWERTY keyboards with no corresponding numeric values. So, for instance, if we said “text the artist code to BKLYN” many participants had trouble understanding this meant “text the artist code to 25596.” Other users got hung up when it came time to sync their phones with their web accounts—a needed step in order to match a user’s phone with their online registration.  

What interests me most about all this is when conceptualizing GO, we wanted to ensure there would be an “accessible technology” component; something everyone had access to because we knew that so many people elect not to have a smartphone. Even though participants had universal access to texting, the accessibility became questionable in its complications. In hindsight, the most accessible mobile method had little to do with technology at all—pen and paper proved the method of choice and people seemed more comfortable coming back to their computers to complete their weekend participation.

In the next post, we’re going to delve into the iPhone app and later we’ll talk about overall lessons learned and things we’d do differently next time around.

Only So Many Hours in a Weekend

Of all the feedback we’ve received, issues around GO’s hours really bubbled to the top. A common refrain from voters and artists alike was one weekend was not enough; so many people have suggested we split the event up over multiple weekends. Sharon and I are sympathetic to these concerns; each of us created overwhelmingly large itineraries and spent the weekend seeing as many studios as possible throughout the borough, but for as many studios as we managed to visit, we couldn’t see them all. However, of all the changes we may consider with possible future iterations of the project, the idea of splitting up GO over multiple weekends isn’t one of them. 

When planning GO, we discussed the idea of a multi-weekend event at length and, in the end, decided against it. A multi-weekend event would mean breaking Brooklyn into zones because neighborhood boundaries are too fuzzy to be helpful in this scenario; zoning seemed antithetical to the project. If we did split things up, we worried about issues outside of our control creating greater disparity and unfairness. The bad weather we experienced on Saturday or the issues with MTA service are both great examples of this. It’s one thing if you have bad weather and we all experience it together, but it’s a totally different story if the bad weather falls on weekend your neighborhood has open studios when another neighborhood benefits from perfect conditions. Of course, we could run the project over multiple weekends throughout the entire Borough, but we didn’t think it would be realistic to ask artists to be in their studios for more than two days.

Speaking of artists, we heard time and time again that the open studio weekend hours—11am to 7pm for two consecutive days—was just too much. As we look at what worked and what didn’t, we wanted to dive into the check-in data to see if GO’s hours worked for both artists and voters. David Huerta, one of our web developers, pulled together the data so we could take a look.

As it turns out, there’s a massive drop off at 6pm on both days and it’s pretty clear the day could have ended a bit earlier than we had scheduled it. We also wonder if noon might have made a better start time, but there’s a pretty clear jump start to the day and for families with children, starting early can be key in their participation.

Above it all, one of our aims was the hope we could bring Brooklyn together through the project and we believe having the event occur on one weekend across the entire 73 square miles of the borough—1700 artists opening doors at the same time—was something special and powerful. In hindsight, we might have changed the hours of the open studio weekend, but we wouldn’t have changed the weekend for the world.

The Sweet Spot

With the artist nominations just announced, we wanted this next post to take a critical look at the nomination data and consider the results. Remember this heatmap of check-ins over the weekend?

At first glance, most people looked at this map and assumed the majority of nominees would be coming out of the hottest of hot spots, but the resulting nominations are surprising because they run counter to these assumptions. Compare to the heatmap of nominations:

You can see what’s happened herenominations were dispersed throughout. Even though an artist may have been in a high density building or even a hotspot, the nominations in those areas were dispersed among the many studios open. Was there something in the traffic patterns and the resulting metrics that meant a confluence of events could occurwas there a sweet spot?

Corinne Hoener, one of our web developers, is going to show us a couple of examples:

There were 1708 artists in 758 buildings with open doors for GO. Of those buildings, 188 housed multiple studios. If we look at the data on our top ten artists, six of the ten were in multiple-studio buildings, and five of those six were in buildings with 8-15 studios, such as 925 Bergen and Invisible Dog (both had 15 studios). Naturally, this led us to wonder if 8-15 studios is a “sweet spot” in terms of having enough studios to draw visitors to your building, but not so many that visitors are overwhelmed by choice. If we crunch the numbers, it certainly looks that way.

On average, an artist’s studio saw 30.35 check-ins, but artists in buildings with 8-15 studios had higher than the average with 44.09 check-ins. On either side of this sweet spot, there were fewer check-ins; artists in buildings with fewer than 8 studios had 22.92 check-ins and buildings with more than 15 saw 40.94 check-ins.  Studios in buildings with 8-15 studios also received about two more nominations than average. That might not sound like a lot, but with tight margins like we have, two additional nominations can make all the difference.

Speaking of nominations, it’s important to remember that an individual visitor can check-in to as many studios as they want, say 100 or more, but they can still only nominate up to three artists. So if we’re digging into the numbers behind our top ten artists, we have to consider the number of visitors to their studios. And again, we can see a sweet spot effect for those buildings with 8-15 studios.  Among our top ten artists, studios in buildings with 8-15 studios saw on average 223.25 unique visitors. These buildings had, on average, 12 studios in them, so there is an average visitor-to-studio ratio of 18.6. Contrast this with two mega studio buildings, which had an average of 72 studios in them and an average of 429.5 visitorsnearly double the average visitors that the studios in 8-15 buildings saw. However, since they also had about 6 times the number of studios, that leaves them with an average visitor-to-studio ratio of only 6.0.  There were far fewer visitors relative to the number of studios in these major buildings. And as we pointed out earlier, fewer visitors means fewer potential nominations.

There’s also some interesting data related to intra-neighborhood traffic, the visitors going to see artists in their own neighborhoods.  Across all the neighborhoods, an average of 32.69% of check-ins came from visitors who lived in or near that neighborhood. However, across the nine neighborhoods represented in our top ten, on average 42.07% of check-ins came from people who live in or near those neighborhoods. In fact, seven of those nine neighborhoods had intra-neighborhood percentages that were above average. It’s possible that this factor combined with a sweet spot (or even the high intra-neighborhood traffic alone) can help to boost nominations in a rally effect. Intra-neighborhood stats have now been added to the raw data, so you can take a look.

We should recognize that the artists who are in the top ten are there for a reason. Sweet spot or no, many artists were nearby (some even in the very same building), but it’s the work of these ten that resonated. Also, we didn’t see either sweet spot traffic or the rally effect cause a “sweep,” or dominance of one area or building in the nominations. Even so, as Sharon and I think about possible future iterations of the project, we wonder how can we avoid the sweet spot and continue to level the playing field.

Simply put, in order to lessen the effect of sweet spots, we need a critical mass. With 1,708 artists, we think we’d need at least 17,000 eligible voters going to at least five studios each.  Though we estimate we had 18,000 voters, only 4,929 were eligible to nominate artists; many of our participants were just visiting studios without checking in or nominating.  We both feel that the high bar to become an eligible voter is critical and non-negotiable in future; we would also want to continue encouraging all kinds of participation (voting and non-voting). Given what we saw this year, we think the metrics to get us to statistical significance and wisdom of crowds decision-making would be a tough uphill climb at any point.

As Sharon looked at the results, she found interesting work not only at the top, but also among the middle of our long tail (and beyond), so as we think about future iterations of the project, we find ourselves asking about participation models that could surface even more work for consideration.

The good news is, this first go round has given us an incredibly rich place from which to start. As we consider the future of GO, we can experiment with various ways to move forward using this year as a solid foundation.

Your Ten Nominated Artists

After approximately 147,000 studio visits to 1,708 artists, and then 9,457 nominations, we have our top ten nominated artists.

GO Nominated Artists

In alphabetical order:

  • Aleksander Betko, Cobble Hill, painting and drawing
  • Jonathan Blum, Park Slope, painting and printmaking
  • Adrian Coleman, Fort Greene, painting
  • Oliver Jeffers, Boerum Hill, painting, illustration, and drawing
  • Kerry Law, Greenpoint, painting
  • Prune Nourry, Boerum Hill, photography, video/film/sound, and sculpture
  • Eric Pesso, Ditmas Park, sculpture
  • Naomi Safran-Hon, Prospect Heights, painting
  • Gabrielle Watson, Crown Heights, painting
  • Yeon Ji Yoo, Red Hook, mixed media sculpture

We are pleased to have such a mix of artists represented in this group, including painters, illustrators, sculptors, and installation artists. Painting clearly ruled with seven of the ten artists being self-identified painters. At the same time, we note the absence of design, fashion, and textile arts, and also that photography, video, and performance are represented only in Nourry’s work.

The results were also a bit surprising in terms of the weekend activity, as was hinted at in Shelley’s post on unexpected traffic patterns. Nine neighborhoods are represented, but they are not the neighborhoods that most people were predicting to be the hot spots. Shelley will be delving into these results to show how visitation may have shaped nominations, so stay tuned as we report on this more.

As we have discussed along the way, this project aimed not only to bring artists and their communities closer together, but also to open up the curatorial process. While most of our exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum have the standard model of being curator conceived and organized, we recognize the value in considering other models. Most recently, our Raw/Cooked series features under-the-radar Brooklyn artists nominated by an artist advisory committee and then selected by Eugenie Tsai, our Curator of Contemporary Art. 

With GO, we established a collaborative process where we invited the public to visit studios and then nominate artists before Museum curators would visit the top artists and make the determination of those to be featured in the exhibition, and the work to be included. This will undoubtedly be a difficult task, particularly given the great range of work and the strong support for these artists. Nonetheless, we are committed to creating the best exhibition possible within these parameters, and that will mean making some tough choices.

Over the next month, we will visit these ten artists’ studios and begin highlighting them one by one on our website. By November 15th we will announce the featured artists for the exhibition, which will open on December 1, 2012 during our Target First Saturday evening.

Unexpected Traffic Patterns

We expect to announce the nominated artists tomorrow; we’re running just a little bit behind schedule. In advance of announcement, we wanted to share some of the neighborhood data and think about what happened over the open studio weekend in context and in relation to some the feedback we’ve received.

Throughout GO, participants have expressed concern about the process being unfair. We’ve been asked if we’d weight results or adjust data to create an even playing field, but our answer has always been that we’d let the data stand as is; we simply didn’t know enough about traffic patterns or participation from the outset to create a model that would work for everyone. We felt it was best to let the weekend play out and look carefully at the resulting data to see if we would need to make adjustments in possible future iterations of the project. That said, we expected things to surprise us and they did.

Many participants were concerned that studios in low-density areas (i.e., not typical “artist hubs” like Gowanus and Bushwick) would receive less foot traffic and thus be at a serious disadvantage in an event like GO. If you look at the neighborhoods with the most check-insGowanus (6442), Red Hook (5800), Sunset Park (4751), Bushwick (4128), Greenpoint (3959)
at first the findings seem to align with these concerns. However, if we dig just a little more deeply, we find the data reveals far more nuanced results. 

Gowanus, Red Hook, and Sunset Park had something in common; each had many studios, most within easy walking distance and some buildings with large concentrations of artists (Brooklyn Art Space, Screwball Spaces, and Chashama, respectively). As a result we saw a higher than average rate of check-ins per studio; basically, a visitor could go into one of these neighborhoods and rack up a bunch of check-ins all at once. However, those same areas were below average in terms of the amount of visitors in relation to number of studios open. In other words, even though there were a lot of studios with high numbers of people checking in, the ratio of visitors to open studios was relatively low in comparison to other areas.

Gowanus vs. Boerum Hill traffic

Along the same lines, if we look at Boerum Hill, Prospect Heights, and Ditmas Park, these neighborhoods were not the densest in terms of studios (particularly Ditmas Park), but all had above average visitor-to-studio ratios. Relative to the number of studios, these neighborhoods actually had much higher traffic than the denser neighborhoods of Gowanus, Red Hook, and Sunset Park.

It was interesting to see Bushwick as a bit of an outlier in all of this, especially given the amount of feedback we received assuming this area would have all the visitation. With 241 artists opening their doors, Bushwick had the highest number of open studios of all neighborhoods participating in GO. However, not only did Bushwick receive below average foot traffic (number of visitors relative to the number of studios), but it also received a below average rate of check-ins per studio. This left us wondering about possible reasons; we think several possible factors are at play.

Many artists in Bushwick told us they felt like the requirement for artists in their studios during the weekend hampered visitation. The same people commenting added that those often visiting their studios during open studio events have been fellow artists, and our requirement curtailed typical artist-to-artist visitation patterns. We should acknowledge the incredibly successful Bushwick Open Studios just took place in June and could account for voters going to other neighborhoods where they had not yet had a chance to explore. Our data supports this theory by showing 61.7% of the check-ins logged by voters with Bushwick zip codes were for artist studios outside of the neighborhood, so Bushwick voters were seen casting a wide net in their studio visits. Lastly, we have to remember our data is only based on those who actually checked-in to studios. A common refrain we heard out of Bushwick was participants didn’t feel the need or want to vote, so foot traffic might have been higher, but it was not registered online.

After the nominated artists are announced tomorrow, we will look closer at how these kinds of traffic patterns impacted nomination data, so stay tuned. One thing we do know is almost all of what we’ve seen has run counter to what many had assumed.

Corinne Hoener, our Web Developer, compiled all this data, analyzed it extensively, and co-authored this post. If you’d like to take a deeper look, she’s posted the raw data.

Moving Toward an Exhibition with 9,457 Nominations

As you saw in Shelley’s previous post, we were thrilled about the level of participation over the open studio weekend. At the same time, we remained anxious about how many of the 4,929 eligible voters (those who checked in to more than 5 studios) would continue their engagement into the nomination phase. We anticipated that we would lose some people, but again, as has often happened with GO, we have been pleasantly surprised with the results.

Our nomination period ended on Tuesday night. We received 9,457 nominations over seven days. Of the eligible voters, 78% of them took the next step to recommend artists. While we allowed visitors to select up to three artists, many chose fewer—23% nominated 1 artist; 10% nominated 2 artists; and 67% nominated 3 artists.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this phase, however, has been that many visitors also took the time to leave provide comments and feedback. Using the virtual guest book feature on the website, visitors left a total of 2,289 comments for artists, ranging from short notes such as “great work” to longer, detailed ones about experiences in the artists’ studios. We have also received 361 responses via “Share Your Story.” These have run the gamut from surprises and disappointments to troubles with technology and the MTA, but almost always offering advice if we repeat the project. We will be releasing this feedback in its entirety on the website, but in the meantime, we are highlighting selected stories on the homepage.

So, what happens next?

We will announce the names of the top ten nominated artists on or about September 25. We are looking at the results with a careful eye (and some fancy programming) to ensure that each artist who has been nominated is eligible according to our terms. I will then visit those artists’ studios along with a curatorial colleague and select the work for the exhibition. The featured artists will come from those nominated by the community, but the focus and structure of the show (particularly what themes may emerge from conversations with the artists as well as how many artists will be included) is all up for grabs.  

In the meantime, our web team has also been analyzing the statistics from the weekend to better understand the activity. As a bit of a teaser, we have added a heat map to the homepage, which beautifully visualizes the overall activity over the weekend.

Stay tuned.

Open Studio Weekend Visitation Statistics

As the nomination phase of GO continues this week, now is a good time to review the weekend and share some statistics about weekend visitation rates. Here’s a brief rundown of what happened, and we’ll explain these figures in the paragraphs which follow.

  • Estimated visitors: 18,000
  • Estimated studio visits: 147,000
  • Total participating artists: 1,708
  • Total neighborhoods with participating artists: 44
  • Total registered voters: 10,319
  • Total voters who checked in to at least 1 studio: 6,106
  • Total voters who checked in to at least 5 studios and are therefore eligible to nominate: 4,929
  • Total studio check ins: 48,918
  • Average number of studios visited per participant: 8

Let’s look at what these numbers mean and how we got to the estimated totals. Among artists surveyed informally throughout the weekend by GO staff, only 1/3 of visitors were visibly using mobile devices to check in to studios or were seen writing down artist codes. Based on this, we are taking the total voters who checked in to at least 1 studio (6,106) as a baseline and using this to project an estimated attendance of 18,000. The same holds true for studios visited; 48,924 check-ins would correlate to approximately 147,000 studio visits. These estimates, however, are conservative. As one indicator, many families were visiting studios together, but children under the age of 18 could not register per the voter guidelines; as another, we saw groups of people where only one person was recording visitation. We do know traffic was dispersed throughout the borough, but it seems double tornado warnings and transportation issues in Brooklyn could not keep people from visiting artists during GO.

Based on our own travels and what we are hearing via share your story feedback, it’s clear some artists had more visitation than others, but even these metrics surprised us. Sharon and I were in some of the larger studio buildings in Bushwick around 3:30pm on Saturday and artists reported having only had 7 visitors by that time (we heard things picked up a lot on Sunday). At the end of the day on Sunday, Sharon and I walked into a Gowanus studio, where the artist (with a counter) clocked us as being visitor 297 and 298, while another artist just a few blocks from there reported a weekend total of roughly 125. In lower density areas like Bay Ridge, artists reported between 8-12 visitors; some with fewer. An artist in Prospect Heights estimated roughly 300 for the weekend, and another artist in Crown Heights wrote to say, “more people came through here than I ever expected.”  Large venues like Screwball Spaces in Red Hook counted 1500 for the weekend even with the F/G trains not running and the building being in a relatively isolated area. A smaller studio in a residential area of between Carroll Gardens and Red Hook reported roughly 50 on day one. What’s clear is assumptions about traffic flow were sometimes true and other times false.

Noel Hefele, an artist in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, made a timelapse video of traffic to his studio. Fast forward to day two when the camera is positioned a little better. 24 artists participated in PLG and, as you’ll see, the neighborhood really turned out to support them.

From the feedback we heard during the weekend and comments still coming in, a few things are ringing loud and clear. Many people have reported that visitors to their studios were unlike those for other open studio events; visitors were engaged and focused. Artist feedback indicates a high level of discussion happening in the studio. Most artists said there was a mix of traffic - 30% invited friends, 70% new visitors. This mix changed from neighborhood to neighborhood, but overall we heard artists gained a new audience for their work. Also, it felt like some neighborhoods had residents turn out in force; feedback from Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens indicate the majority of foot traffic came from their own neighborhoods with higher engagement than anyone expected.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions statistics, and in the coming month, the web team will be analyzing a lot of the data, and we’ll be releasing stories and visualizations about weekend patterns. As you see us release data, you’ll find we aim to do it in a respectful way; you will never see a list of artists and/or neighborhoods and how they placed. You will see us focus on data in aggregate and use specific examples to show trends representative of the whole.

We think you’ll be just as surprised by some of the information as we have been, and we look forward to sharing it with you.

GO See Art in Brooklyn This Weekend!

Our borough-wide open studio weekend is finally here! On September 8th and 9th, more than 1800 artists across 46 neighborhoods in Brooklyn will open their studios to share their work with you from 11am to 7pm. We hope you’ll visit them.

Our team—including 2 organizers, 1 project coordinator, 21 neighborhood coordinators, many volunteers, staff across Museum departments, and our registered artists—have spent innumerable hours gearing up for this weekend. Even though Museum staff members are ineligible to nominate artists, we’ll be out in force visiting studios and offering support at our information spots. Shelley and I aim to see as many studios as possible, and we also know that our Director Arnold Lehman, Chief Curator Kevin Stayton, and many members of our curatorial team and other departments will be visiting artists as well.

Brooklyn Museum staff will be out seeing as many studios as possible during the open studio weekend.

While it might be a bit overwhelming with approximately 1800 artists from which to chose your visits, but remember, you only need to visit at least five studios to nominate artists for the exhibition. If you are a voter strategizing how to make the most of the weekend, one tip would be to visit the artists in your own neighborhood and then choose another neighborhood to discover. Consider starting at our main meet point at Borough Hall, which will be open from 11am to 7pm on both days, or pick up a map at one of the 30 info spots throughout Brooklyn (hours vary) or, simply, just start at an artist’s studio when you see a sign on the door. If you want to get started in advance, you can create an itinerary online and/or download our iPhone app.

All of the hard work that has gone into GO has really been about this weekend. The personal exchange between artists and neighbors is what counts here. While we do have a check-in and nomination process as a way to bring all of the excitement and energy of the open studio weekend into the Museum for a group exhibition, this project is first and foremost about art and community. If a visitor goes to studios, but never checks in or nominates artists, we still consider that a great success.

Whether you register in advance or not, the most important thing is to GO.  

Voters, are you ready?

The open studio weekend is coming up!

On September 8 and 9, artists throughout Brooklyn will open their studios from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can watch this video for a quick introduction and then browse artists here.

Here are some things to know:

  • If you want advice about how to approach the open studio weekend, check out the tips for voters.
  • If you register and check in to 5 studios, you can nominate up to 3 artists for an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.
  • Although pre-registration is not required to visit studios, we recommend registering now, so you can create an itinerary, check-in, nominate, and more.
  • Visit an information spot to pick up a printed map. Our main meet point outside of Borough Hall - convenient to all subways – will be open from 11am to 7pm Saturday and Sunday. Or, you can visit any of our information spots, but note that hours vary by location, so read the fine print! 
  • If you have an iPhone, download our GO app to explore an interactive map of GO artists, see photos, get directions, and edit your itinerary. If you have another type of smartphone, you can use our mobile website by visiting the GO website on your phone. 
  • You can check in to studios using the GO iPhone app, text messaging, or entering artists’ codes on the website. Look for instructions and the artist’s code on a poster in the artist’s studio. You just need to submit check ins by Monday, September 10 at 11:59pm EST.
  • Looking for food options or rest stops in neighborhoods? See our series of neighborhood guides.
  • Need help? Visit an information spot where GO staff will be on hand to answer questions. 

Thank you for participating in GO. We hope you have a great weekend!

Artists, are you ready?

As the open studio weekend fast approaches, here are a few reminders:

  • Registered artists must be present in their studios from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both September 8 and 9.
  • Artists cannot sell work during the weekend, but we encourage you to have cards in your studio for visitors can take and to have a sign-up sheet for your mailing list.
  • Artist materials (door sign, maps, posters) can be picked up from the Brooklyn Museum Thurs 11-7 or Fri 11-6.  Look for the GO table in the lobby and send a friend if you can’t make it.
  • Fill out your door poster with your name and artist code. Log in to the GO website to find the code on your dashboard (only visible to you). Be sure to also put the artist number in the gray box in the texting area.  
  • Talk to nearby businesses about hanging your “See Art in Brooklyn,” “Meet Artists,” and “Visit Studios” posters in storefronts. It is incredibly important to get as much street visibility as possible this week.
  • Customize your wayfinding signs, and place them in hallways and on the street near your building to help visitors find your studio. If you are in a building with many artists, work together so these signs represent a clear traffic pattern for visitors.
  • Familiarize yourself with nearby information spots, including locations, days, and hours, so you can send your visitors there for guidance or extra maps. 
  • Take one last look at your list of contacts and reach out to them.  Here’s some sample material if you need it.
  • Review FAQs in our support area, including the open studio tips series, and check GO News and/or Twitter for last-minute announcements.
  • Contact your neighborhood coordinator for last minute issues, but keep in mind these are very busy times and it may take a while for us to respond.

Thank you for participating in GO and we hope you have a great weekend!

Where to GO

Main Meet Point

The plaza outside Borough Hall will be functioning as the main meet point for GO. This location will be open 11am-7pm on both days, and you can buy GO merchandise here. This location is easily accessible to every subway line in the borough, so if you start here you can easily jump to any neighborhood to begin exploring artist studios. Look for our tent right out in front! 

Neighborhood Info Spots

You’ll be able to stop in at any of these information spots (hours vary) to get a map and talk to GO staff about how to get started. Some venues are even providing specials! See the info spot map for locations, hours and specials on offer.

Neighborhood Guides

Our neighborhood coordinators have put together a series of guides in the areas they’ve been working in to help visitors during the open studio weekends. We hope voters find these helpful, though not every neighborhood is represented:

How to add your artist code to your door poster!

Artists! We will be releasing your 5-digit artist code numbers at 10am today; you will get an email from us shortly that contains your code, so please check your inboxes.  If you don’t get that email, you can also find your code on your dashboard by logging into the GO website.

Once you have obtained your number, write the code on your door sign in two places.  Be sure to write the number at the top where it says “artist code,” but also in the smaller gray box with the texting instructions.  Both are circled here in red. We recommend that you use a sharpie or similar marker - you want to make your code as clear and easy to read as possible.

Oh, and don’t forget to fill in your name, too!

GO with Members

After reading the posts about our NYCHA partnership and the walks we are designing as part of that program, some of you have asked if you could attend those tours.  The NYCHA walks are reserved for housing residents; with 1000+ families in each development and a limited touring schedule, we want to ensure residents have access to those walks.

If you are looking for a structured tour, consider becoming a member so you can attend and art walk as part of Members GO. These walks are being designed by our Members for other Members and will be running all weekend in Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Sunset Park, Park Slope, Crown Heights, Ditmas Park, Prospect Heights, Sheepshead Bay, DUMBO, Red Hook, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Space is limited, so we encourage you to join soon if you are not a member already. Current members should look for an email in their inbox with tour information and the sign up sheet.