Launching Greenpoint Hill feels like kismet for Kim Brown. Previously a studio and storage annex for Pentatonic Guitars, the space is now renovated and feels cozy and warm with brick walls painted white and light, wooden shelves. She’d had her eye on the space at 100 Freeman Street for a while and the time has come to open as an art gallery and retail shop.
For the opening, the inventory is very ceramic heavy, which is where Brown’s sensibilities are now, but she’s open to housing other types of sculpture and handmade objects as well. She’s in discussion with wood workers and hoping to get a few furniture pieces.
Brown aims to curate a collection for people who just appreciate art or jewelry or the functional work to use in their everyday lives, rather than collectors.
“I’m really honored to have all the participating artists,” says Brown. “I’m feeling optimistic about the space, thinking it’ll be fun!”
Brown also plans to host events and workshops and is currently exhibiting a a series of gouache paintings by Libby VanderPloeg titled “Ladies Who Lead”. The exhibition opening reception is tonight, Thursday, Oct 20th, 7-10pm.
Featuring portraits of inspirational women paired with quotes, the series is part one of two, and opens tonight, supporting Brown’s mission for Greenpoint Hill, which is to act as a “place where people can buy art, rather than a fixed exhibition space.”
Brown and I agreed: the paintings would make great holiday gifts.
Kim Brown has lived in Greenpoint for eight years. Her two dogs, a seemingly identical pair of affenpinschers, are named Claude and Hugo. Maybe you’ve seen them around town? “I walk the dogs constantly and I always see people on the street, even if I don’t know them well,” Brown says. “Greenpoint has a vibrant community and I like to be a connector.”
The area of Freeman Street from Franklin to the river was known as Greenpoint Pottery Hill in the 1800s. “There were several porcelain and pottery manufactures,” Kim Brown says. “I think the biggest one was where the [Evil & Love] tattoo parlour is now. And I loved the idea of connecting to the history but I didn’t want to be so limited to pottery so we took the pottery out and then I liked the idea of it just being Greenpoint Hill, which just sort of makes it more of a mythical, community space, which I feel like it is becoming.”
Having earned her MFA from Mills College in Oakland, California, Brown initially focused on photography and fire art but in 2003 she earned her law degree and practiced for 10 years as an advertising attorney before starting her own practice, “focusing mostly on helping individual artists and smaller media companies,” she says.
And it was then when she rediscovered sculpture and ceramic making.
“I’ve been pretty into it for the past two and a half years,” she says. “I’ve been kind of 50/50 doing ceramics and law. When I wanted to tip my toe back into it I took a class throwing pots on the wheel for the first time and I just really connected with it and now I really enjoy making things that people use every day.”
Of course Brown is proud of her work but also very excited about the other artists she’s exhibiting, who include, along with exhibiting artist Libby VanderPloeg, Tatiana Arocha, Leah James, Danielle Kroll, Lesh -Handwoven Jewelry, The Lost Camp, Alison Owen, Meg Morton, Monty Mattison, Signe Yberg, and Anabella Zubillaga.
When I asked Kim Brown if she felt there was a reniassance happening in Greenpoint, she nodded, saying, “There is a pretty heavy ceramic thing going on. With all the digital saturation we have, I think something for me that was really enticing about going in and literally getting your hands dirty and getting away from the computer… I have to think that has to be a big part of it for a lot of people who have gotten into it but I can’t speak for them.”