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Critical split: Art panel ditches Manhattan for better borough

for Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn is where the art is!

A prestigious monthly discussion of contemporary art has vacated its home in Manhattan in favor of Brooklyn, the city’s creative center. After a decade at Manhattan’s National Academy of Art and Design, the Review Panel will have its first discussion tonight at its new home in the Brooklyn Public Library’s Dweck Center. The move brings the panel closer to the makers that fuel New York City’s vibrant art scene, said its founder.

“I’m conscious of the fact that much of our audience is made up of artists who live and or work in Brooklyn,” said David Cohen, who is also the editor and publisher of artcritical.com. “It dovetails the desire to be closer to a younger and more creative audience and wanting to be in a public library.”

Brooklyn galleries are getting increased attention from the critical establishment, he said.

“Bushwick and exciting points south in Red Hook and downtown Brooklyn constitute quite a vital scene these days,” said Cohen.

The Review Panel brings together artists and critics to examine current exhibits at galleries and museums around the city. The first panel in Brooklyn will cover the “Flood” exhibit by Charlie Harlan at Pioneer Works in Red Hook; Glenn Ligon’s “We Need to Wake Up Cause That’s What Time it Is” at Luhring Augustine gallery in Bushwick; and two exhibits in Manhattan.

Cohen will discuss the shows with author Siri Hustvedt, artist and critic Alexi Worth, and New York Times art critic Roberta Smith, a group that offers varied strengths and approaches.

“I do love to have one really well-known art person on each panel, and Roberta is the most stalwart of our panelists,” said Cohen. “Siri seemed a natural because I wanted someone with a strong Brooklyn identifica­tion.”

Changing the location also gave Cohen a chance to tinker with the night’s format at bit, in this case adding a novelist to the panel.

“One of the things in rethinking the panel is seeking greater diversity in terms of the demographics of panels,” he said, “but also tapping the expertise of people beyond the art world.”

The Review Panel had a loyal following at its Manhattan location, but Cohen believes the move can attract a new audience without alienating its regular attendees.

“I find Manhattanites are happy to have an excuse to get to Brooklyn,” he said.

The Review Panel at the Brooklyn Public Library [10 Grand Army Plaza at Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights (718) 230–2100, www.bklynlibrary.org]. Feb. 9 at 7 pm. Free.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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