Art / Parks

Riverside campus gets a facelift

Robert Graham

Patrons and artists at an opening at The Point’s riverside campus on Nov. 2.

House of Spoof shows off its new space for art

When The Point Community Development Corp. acquired its riverside campus on Lafayette Avenue next door to Hunts Point Riverside Park in 2009, its goal was to create “new opportunities for the arts and environment to connect.”

Rocking the Boat moved from Soundview. Students from The Point’s teen ACTION project planted a small urban farm. In 2010, the campus hosted the citywide Key to the City art project and last year it brought the Love Motel for Insects to Hunts Point.

A small brick building, the only survivor of a fire that destroyed the fur factory that once occupied the site, became a studio and gallery, adopted by the House of Spoof, a collective of young artists who went to work to fix it up.

But there were problems.

The brick building’s roof leaked. The lighting was all wrong. The floors buckled and creaked. Insects got in through holes in the walls. The heating system was antiquated.

Look at it now.

After a seven-day blitz by a platoon of volunteers from a program called “In Good Company,” a coalition of community-minded businesses, the old building, re-christened the Brick House, has a sound roof, a new floor, a new ventilation system, built-in storage cabinets and walls newly-painted a crisp white.

The crew from In Good Company also converted a large shipping container on the property to a gallery for showing art and built a concession stand for refreshments.

The new art spaces made their debut on Nov. 2 with a show organized by the House of Spoof around the theme of El Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday when family and friends gather together to remember loved ones who have passed away.

Founded by Misra Walker, Alberto Iñamagua, Richard Palacios and Ryan Smith, the House of Spoof chose its name to preserve the memory of their friend and fellow artist Glenn “Spoof” Wright, killed in case of mistaken identity at the age of 21. The show included a version of a traditional altar of the dead, created by Walker and dedicated to Wright.

Iñamagua created another altar, in memory of his grandmother, who died recently. On Facebook, Jazzie Washington wrote, “I had an amazing experience Alberto, and my children were so excited about Art. My nephew was so relieved to know he shared the same experience of losing his grandmother as others, and he learned a little more about his Hispanic heritage and culture.”

The show was the culmination of four years of work during which the House of Spoof had worked hard to make the decrepit building functional, pooling their strength to clean it up so they could use it as a studio.

But, said Iñamagua, they knew their efforts could only bring the space so far. Repairing or replacing a leaky roof was beyond them. They needed tools, material and construction knowledge to complete the long list of ideas they had for improvements, Iñamagua said.

Robert Graham

Volunteers from around the country came to help renovate the campus to prepare for the exhibition.

That’s where In Good Company came in. Founded after Hurricane Katrina by the makers of Clif Bar, which produces organic energy bars, In Good Company recruits like-minded companies to contribute manpower and money to help community-based organizations.

In October, in a burst of labor reminiscent of an old-fashioned barn-raising, 21 volunteers from as far away as California joined the House of Spoof’s members and others from The Point to complete the renovation of the riverside campus.

“All this makes an improvement when showing off artwork and bringing artists in and showing them that their work is safe,” said House of Spoof member Walker. “We can really utilize the space the way we want to and have fun with it without having worries or concerns that things are going to be damaged.”

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