Sean Alday speaks with Peter Hopkins of the Bogart Salon.
Peter Hopkins is the gallery director of the Bogart Salon. A concept and content driven art space which gives home to exhibitions, lectures, life drawing events, and panel discussions. I caught him mid-thought one afternoon while construction was giving new life to the decrepit parking lot behind the building.
PH: It was ’86 or ’87, from Tompkins Square all the way across the bridge. The highest crime rates were in that time period, late 80’s maybe into the early 90’s. But I never felt that there was this specific moment, or that it was clear that something had happened. Bedford was always going on, and you sensed it on Berry… But I don’t know, maybe it was as late as 2005 when those towers were built on the water that it seemed as though it had been ratified.
I think that that was when Bushwick started on a trajectory. When Williamsburg was ratified, you felt it: “Time is up”.
That’s when any scene loses its allure: When the early adapters feel that there’s no longer any part for them.
Every square inch is now a restaurant or a boutique or monetized in some way.
It seems to me that there isn’t the density here. In Williamsburg, towards the river, there was always something happening. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Streets, it’s every square block, literally every one, is… Something. It used to be like a main street, now it’s a big box.
My thoughts regarding Bushwick are that when the next 2-3 big galleries come, from Chelsea most likely, and define where the edges are, then that area will be the box. I sense that it’s Jefferson, Flushing. I guess it’s a block away from here towards Roberta’s, and Johnson on the other side of this building.
56B: What do you think that portends for those who are outside the box? Ridgewood, Dekalb to Halsey, the J Line?
PH: I think that Ridgewood is next up.
As for Bushwick, it’s the million-dollar question. It’s difficult to say it, because by saying it, it’s almost the same as predicting it. I don’t want this, but I’ll predict it:
There will be people who adapt, and there will be people who won’t.
I saw it in Williamsburg. In theory, I should have adapted, but I really didn’t. I didn’t do what I should have done when there was time to do so. Then I looked up and this thing we now know as Williamsburg was built. It was too late.
I don’t want to make that mistake again. If you’re older or have done this a few times, then you sense that there is a moment when things are happening and people can still buy in. After that moment, it’s outside your reach. It’s about real estate brokers then.
There’s a rapidly dissolving moment when early adapters can still get in at a decent price. It won’t be long though.
My sense is that if Williamsburg had this protracted moment, where people realized that the moment was happening and there was still time to buy in, say ’98 to ’06. Bushwick’s run is four years in and we’re getting close to the end if we aren’t already there. It really started happening in ’08 with that year’s Bushwick Open Studios and a few other events around that time.
I think people assume that it’s only the beginning because the content is only arriving. But the ownership has already been decided. People own the buildings. They aren’t just waiting to flip them.
It’s like the art world adage, by the time you know something, it’s too late. Once something becomes part of the public consciousness, it’s been percolating for three years.
If you were talking real estate, the time to have been here would have been ’08-’10. 2012 is probably a matter of the edges, there may be some things floating around, but the blocks have been decided. So I think that what you’ll see for a while, will be the people who own, will develop.
56B: What do you think will go up?
PH: I don’t know [laughs]. I know what I want, and what I want to have happen. I’ll do my best to be a culture creator in this environment. I don’t want to be forced to adapt to what other people are doing. I’m trying to be proactive out here.
There’s the sense that a lot of people feel about this place, that this influx is pushing out the older inhabitants. My response has been largely “Don’t get mad at me for doing what I’m doing. Come do what you think should be done. Then let’s see if we can’t help each other.”
It’s the opposite of a zero-sum game. The difference is that we will never do the same things. Nor should we. I know the 27 year-olds who should do this, and I’ve talked to them directly.
The issue, that a lot of people deal with, in this, is that it will become their whole lives. It’s not a three-year project. You will wake up thirty years from now and have been doing this thing for thirty years. But the time is now.